On Nationality

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Clarendon Press, Oct 5, 1995 - Social Science - 220 pages
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Nationalism is a dominating force in contemporary politics, but political philosophers have been markedly reluctant to discuss, let alone endorse, nationalist ideas. In this book David Miller defends the principle of nationality. He argues that national identities are valid sources of personal identity; that we are justified in recognizing special obligations to our co-nationals; that nations have good grounds for wanting to be politically self-determining; but that recognizing the claims of nationality does not entail suppressing other sources of personal identity, such as ethnicity. Finally, he considers the claim that national identities are dissolving in the late twentieth century. This timely and provocative book offers the most compelling defence to date of nationality from a radical perspective. Series description Oxford Political Theory presents the best new work in contemporary political theory. It is intended to be broad in scope, including original contributions to political philosophy, and also work in applied political theory. The series will contain works of outstanding quality with no restriction as to approach or subject matter.
 

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This is a very clear and useful account of some of the issues, both philosophical and political, around the concept of nationality. Given the current debates about the UK 'renegotiating' its membership of the EU, the prospect of Scotland deciding about independence and the ever present debate about multiculturalism, this is a highly relevant book.
Miller makes use of some thought experiments as well as drawing on real events to illustrate some of the limited attempts by politicians and theorists to tackle key issues.
Such difficult and controversial arguments include;
If national sovereignty is an essential aspect of a nation, when if ever should another nation intervene?
Should charity begin at home?
Which decisions can be legitimately left to supranational bodies and which should be left to each nation?
Does supporting national identity inevitable mean oppressing minorities?
Should some aspects of an individual's identity (e.g. sexuality, religious affiliation, ethnicity) be kept for the private sphere?
Why is it not helpful to allow the children of minority families to be educated away from mainstream educational provision?
What are the myths about a nation's identity and how do these help to bind citizens together?
There is an emphasis on how a national identity is a shared, manufactured product and therefore will change to accommodate new political realities. If the reader is expecting some kind of conservative homage to nationalism they may be disappointed by this subtle analysis.
 

Contents

INTRODUCTION
1
NATIONAL IDENTITY
17
THE ETHICS OF NATIONALITY
49
NATIONAL SELFDETERMINATION
81
NATIONALITY AND CULTURAL PLURALISM
119
NATIONALITY IN DECLINE?
155
CONCLUSION
183
Bibliography
197
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