Between Creativity and Norm-Making: Tensions in the Early Modern Era


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Availability In Stock. With Free Saver Delivery. Facebook Twitter Pinterest Share. Description The time of the transition from the Middle Ages to the onset of early modernity c. It brought what on first sight appear to be contradictory developments. Human creativity and freedom became much more important; yet, at the same time, the foundations were laid for systems that allowed control to be exercised over virtually every aspect of human social life.

How can we put these two phenomena together? Can one rationally explain the extremes of ethno-national conflict? Authors like Russell Hardin propose to do so in terms of a general view of when hostile behavior is rational: most typically, if an individual has no reason to trust someone, it is reasonable for that individual to take precautions against the other.

If both sides take precautions, however, each will tend to see the other as increasingly inimical. It then becomes rational to start treating the other as an enemy. Mere suspicion can thus lead by small, individually rational steps to a situation of conflict. Such negative development is often presented as a variant of the Prisoner's Dilemma; see the entry on prisoner's dilemma.

It is relatively easy to spot the circumstances in which this general pattern applies to national solidarities and conflicts see also Wimmer It has enabled the application of conceptual tools from game-theoretic and economic analyses of cooperative and non-cooperative behavior to the explanation of ethno-nationalism. It is worth mentioning, however, that the individualist rational-choice approach, centered upon personal rationality, has serious competitors. A tradition in social psychology, initiated by Henri Tajfel , shows that individuals may identify with a randomly selected group even when membership in the group brings no tangible rewards.

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Does rationality of any kind underlie this tendency to identification? They propose a non-personal, evolutionary sort of rationality: individuals who develop a sentiment of identification and sense of belonging end up better off in the evolutionary race; hence we have inherited such propensities. Initially, sentiments were reserved for kin, supporting the spreading of one's own genes. But cultural evolution has taken over the mechanisms of identification that initially developed within biological evolution. As a result, we project the sentiment originally reserved for kinship onto our cultural group.

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More detailed explanations from socio-biological perspectives differ greatly among themselves and constitute a wide and rather promising research program see an overview in Goetze There is a growing literature connecting these issues with cognitive science, from Searle-White to Hogan and Yack One cannot choose to belong.

Why is national belonging taken to be involuntary? It is often attributed to the involuntary nature of linguistic belonging: a child does not decide which language will become her or his mother tongue, and one's mother tongue is often regarded as the most important depository of concepts, knowledge, social and cultural significance.

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All these are embedded in the language, and do not exist without it. Early socialization is seen as socialization into a specific culture, and very often that culture is just assumed to be a national one.


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The resulting belonging is then to a large extent non-voluntary. There are exceptions to this basically non-voluntaristic view: for instance, theoretical nationalists who accept voluntary changes of nationality. We pointed out at the very beginning of the entry that nationalism focuses upon 1 the attitude that the members of a nation have when they care about their national identity, and 2 the actions that the members of a nation take when seeking to achieve or sustain some form of political sovereignty.

The politically central point is 2 : the actions enjoined by the nationalist. To these we now turn, beginning with sovereignty and territory, the usual foci of a national struggle for independence. They raise an important issue:. The classical answer is that a state is required. A more liberal answer is that some form of political autonomy suffices.


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Once this has been discussed, we can turn to the related normative issues:. Consider first the classical nationalist answer to 2a. Developments of this line of thought often state or imply specific answers to 2b , and 2c , i. However, classical nationalism is not only concerned with the creation of a state but also with its maintenance and strengthening. Nationalism is sometimes used to promote claims for the expansion of a state even at the cost of wars and for isolationist policies.

Expansion is often justified by appeal to the unfinished business of bringing literally all members of the nation under one state and sometimes by territorial and resource interests. As for maintenance of sovereignty by peaceful and merely ideological means, political nationalism is closely tied to cultural nationalism. The latter insists upon the preservation and transmission of a given culture, or more accurately, of recognizably ethno-national traits of the culture in its pure form, dedicating artistic creation, education and research to this goal. Of course, the ethno-national traits to be preserved can be actual or invented, partly or fully so.

Its force trumps other interests and even other rights a trump which is often needed in order to carry out the national independence struggle. In consequence, classical nationalism has something to say about the ranking of attitudes as well: in response to 1e , caring for one's nation is given the status of a fundamental duty for each of its members, and in answer to 1f , the scope is taken as unlimited. In summary, for future reference:. Classical nationalists are usually vigilant about the kind of culture they protect and promote and about the kind of attitude people have to their nation-state.

This watchful attitude carries some potential dangers: many elements of a given culture that are universalist or simply not recognizably national may fall prey to such nationalist enthusiasms. Classical nationalism in everyday life puts various additional demands on individuals, from buying more expensive home-produced goods in preference to cheaper imported ones to procreating as many future members of the nation as one can manage. See Yuval-Davies , and Yack Besides classical nationalism and its more radical extremist cousins , various moderate views are also nowadays classified as nationalist.

Indeed, the philosophical discussion has shifted to these moderate or even ultra-moderate forms, and most philosophers who describe themselves as nationalists propose very moderate nationalist programs. Let me characterize these briefly:. Nationalism in a wider sense is any complex of attitudes, claims and directives for action ascribing a fundamental political, moral and cultural value to nation and nationality and deriving obligations for individual members of the nation, and for any involved third parties, individual or collective from this ascribed value.

Nationalisms in this wider sense can vary somewhat in their conceptions of the nation which are often left implicit in their discourse , in the grounds for and degree of its value, and in the scope of their prescribed obligations. The term can also be applied to other cases not covered by classical nationalism, for instance to the hypothetical pre-state political forms that an ethnic identity might take. The variations of nationalism most relevant for philosophy are those that influence the moral standing of claims and of recommended nationalist practices.

The central theoretical nationalist evaluative claims can be charted on the map of possible positions within political theory in the following useful but somewhat simplified and schematic way. Nationalist claims featuring the nation as central to political action must answer two crucial general questions. First, is there one kind of large social group smaller than the whole of mankind that is of special moral importance? The nationalist answer is that there is just one, namely, the nation.

When an ultimate choice is to be made, the nation has priority. This answer is implied by rather standard definitions of nationalism offered by Berlin, discussed in Section 1. Are they based on voluntary or involuntary membership in the group? The typical contemporary nationalist thinker opts for the latter, while admitting that voluntary endorsement of one's national identity is a morally important achievement. On the philosophical map, pro-nationalist normative tastes fit nicely with the communitarian stance in general: most pro-nationalist philosophers are communitarians who choose the nation as the preferred community in contrast to those of their fellow communitarians who prefer more far-ranging communities, such as those defined by global religious traditions.

However, some writers who describe themselves as liberal nationalists, prominently including Will Kymlicka , , , reject communitarian underpinning. Before proceeding to moral claims, let me briefly sketch the issues and viewpoints connected to territory and territorial rights that are essential for nationalist political programs. I am adapting the excellent taxonomy of A. Kollers , Ch. Why is territory important for ethno-national groups, and what are the extent and grounds of territorial rights?


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Its primary importance resides in sovereignty and all the associated possibilities for internal control and external exclusion. What about the grounds for the demand for territorial rights?

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Nationalist and pro-nationalist views mostly rely on the attachment that members of a nation have to national territory and to the formative value of territory for a nation to justify territorial claims see Miller and Meissels , with some refinements discussed below. These attachment views stand in stark contrast to more pragmatic views about territorial rights as means for conflict resolution e. Another quite popular alternative is the family of individualistic views grounding territorial rights in rights and interests of individuals, for instance in their human rights Buchanan , pre-political Lockean property rights Simmons , individual resource rights Steiner , or political association rights Wellman Some of the authors mentioned are cosmopolitan critics of nationalism, most prominently Buchanan and Pogge.

We now pass to the normative dimension of nationalism. We shall first describe the very heart of the nationalist program, i. These claims can be seen as answers to the normative subset of our initial questions about 1 pro-national attitudes and 2 actions. We will see that these claims recommend various courses of action: centrally, those meant to secure and sustain a political organization — preferably a state — for the given ethno-cultural national community thereby making more specific the answers to our normative questions 1e , 1f , 2b , and 2c.

Finally, we shall discuss various lines of pro-nationalist thought that have been put forward in defense of these claims.

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To begin, let us return to the claims concerning the furthering of the national state and culture. These are proposed by the nationalist as norms of conduct. The philosophically most important variations concern three aspects of such normative claims:.

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The strongest claim is typical of classical nationalism; its typical norms are both moral and, once the nation-state is in place, legally enforceable obligations for all parties concerned, including for the individual members of the ethno-nation. The force of the nationalist claim is here being weighed against the force of other claims, including those of individual or group interests or rights.

Variations in comparative strength of nationalist claims take place on a continuum between two extremes. At one rather unpalatable extreme, nation-focused claims take precedence over any other claims, including over human rights. Further towards the center is the classical nationalism that gives nation-centered claims precedence over individual interests and many needs including pragmatic collective utility , but not necessarily over general human rights.

See, for example, McIntyre , Oldenquist On the opposite end, which is mild, humane and liberal, the central nationalist claims are accorded prima facie status only see Tamir , Gans , and most recently Miller's book, which looks for a compromise. What is their scope? One approach claims that they are valid for every ethno-nation and thereby universal. To put it more officially.

The most difficult and indeed chauvinistic sub-case of particularism, i. Classical nationalism comes in both particularistic and universalistic varieties.

go here Although the three dimensions of variation — internal strength, comparative strength, and scope — are logically independent, they are psychologically and politically intertwined.

Between Creativity and Norm-Making: Tensions in the Early Modern Era Between Creativity and Norm-Making: Tensions in the Early Modern Era
Between Creativity and Norm-Making: Tensions in the Early Modern Era Between Creativity and Norm-Making: Tensions in the Early Modern Era
Between Creativity and Norm-Making: Tensions in the Early Modern Era Between Creativity and Norm-Making: Tensions in the Early Modern Era
Between Creativity and Norm-Making: Tensions in the Early Modern Era Between Creativity and Norm-Making: Tensions in the Early Modern Era
Between Creativity and Norm-Making: Tensions in the Early Modern Era Between Creativity and Norm-Making: Tensions in the Early Modern Era
Between Creativity and Norm-Making: Tensions in the Early Modern Era Between Creativity and Norm-Making: Tensions in the Early Modern Era
Between Creativity and Norm-Making: Tensions in the Early Modern Era Between Creativity and Norm-Making: Tensions in the Early Modern Era

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