Solidarity pp 281-289 | Cite as

National, Supranational, and International Solidarity

  • Ulrich K. Preuss
Part of the Philosophical Studies in Contemporary Culture book series (PSCC, volume 5)


According to Webster’s Dictionary, “solidarity” denotes the “unity (as of a group or class) that produces or is based on a community of interests, objectives, and standards”. Our mundane talk about solidarity is more specific (and perhaps premature) in that it suggests that the “community of interests, objectives and standards” is the source of particular moral obligations which we regard as “obligations of solidarity”. Although it is, of course, logically impossible to derive normative judgments from empirical statements, it is equally clear that we accept moral duties that are not necessarily grounded in a Kantian a priori knowledge of our reason, but rather in experience and empirical facts. We accept as self-evident, for instance, that the members of a group of persons who engage in a dangerous undertaking — say, in an expedition into the Arctic wasteland — have more exacting moral obligations towards each other than to their fellow human beings. Therefore, it is not surprising that the concept of solidarity encompasses both empirical-descriptive and normative connotations: it includes both the empirical reality of a community of interests, objectives, and standards, as well as the assertion of mutual moral obligations which can be more or less cogently deduced from this community. The underlying assumption suggests that community creates duties of solidarity, i.e., particular moral duties among the members of that community: obviously the members of a family have particular and more rigid moral duties to each other than to fellow human beings to whom they are not tied by family bonds. (Whether these bonds are bonds of blood or bonds of particular social closeness is a question of deep ideological division which I leave aside here.)


Member State Moral Obligation Political Community Moral Duty National Parliament 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ulrich K. Preuss
    • 1
  1. 1.Free University of BerlinGermany

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