Outstanding moral reflection Gary Gutting for today. Be sure to read the whole thing (On another day I would reflect that the universality of morality can be found in both testaments of the Bible, not just in Socrates.), but here is the nub of his argument.
It may seem, then, that we must either accept modern universalist ethics and reject patriotism as a basic moral virtue or accept patriotism along with MacIntyre’s traditional localist morality. But perhaps, at least in the American context, there is a way of avoiding the dilemma.
For what is the animating ideal of American patriotism if not the freedom of all persons, not just its own citizens? This is apparent in our Declaration, which bases its case for independence on the principle that governments exist to “secure the rights” of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” to which all persons are equally entitled. This principle is the avowed purpose of all our actions as a nation, and we may read our history as the story of our successes and failures in carrying out this principle. America, then, is the paradox of a local historical project that aims at universal liberation. Through this project, we have a way of combining traditional patriotism with universal morality.