Meeting 20: Philosophy of Loyalty

  • Nov 17, 2013 · 2:00 PM
  • 47 East 88th Street

PhD candidate Henry Shevlin will facilitate this meeting.

Issue to consider: if loyalty is a defining aspect of good character and a good life (as most people hold), then what are its limits?

Optional readings and audiocasts


The SEP (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) entry on "Loyalty." 


"The Myth of Universal Love" is a 4-page opinion piece from The Stone, a New York Times series that "features the writing of contemporary philosophers and other thinkers on issues both timely and timeless."  This piece deals with the ethics of loyalty and the question of how far we can or should expand our "circle of care" to people beyond our immediate friends and family.  Should we allow love, loyalty, gratitude and empathy to bias our moral actions and preferences towards our family and friends?  Or should we be impartial and fair, treating all people the same? 


The Philosophy Talk radio show has an episode on "Loyalty."  It's a 50-minute audio program on the nature of, and ethics of, Loyalty.  You can subscribe (free) at their website for all upcoming episodes, or you can stream or download this (or any) episode to your computer or iPod/mp3 player for a mere $1.99.  This week, the two hosts, Stanford philosophers John Perry and Ken Taylor, interview and debate with Philosophy Professor Troy Jollimore, author of a book on the philosophy of loyalty. 

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  • William C.

    As usual it was an excellent Meetup. I enjoyed the thought provoking conversation. Henry was an good moderator-facilitator and Justine was an excellent host.

    November 20, 2013

  • Randall

    Thought thia was at noon. Can't make the (new?) time.

    November 17, 2013

  • Yan

    Could someone confirm with me about the meeting time? Is it 1-3pm or 2-4pm? I got different notices from the Meet-up. Thanks! Look forward to seeing you all.

    November 16, 2013

  • William C.

    Evey person, has some degree of those qualities. I am fairly certain that I am not the most, wise,courageous,temperant, or just person on the planet. So if in the unlikely case there is a family member who is more wise, courageous, temperant, and just than you, should that family member be loyal to you? Or if in the more likely case the opposite is true, should you be loyal to them?

    November 9, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I am only loyal to a state or human being that posses; wisdom, courage, temperance and justice.

    November 8, 2013

  • William C.

    So, If a person changes their religion, they are disloyal to their religion , but they may be loyal to themselves!

    November 8, 2013

  • Yan

    If a person changes their political party, they are disloyal to their party, but they may be loyal to themselves.

    November 8, 2013

  • William C.

    If a person changes their political party or votes for someone from another political party, that could certainly be seen as being disloyal. An apostic, heretic, or even an unorthodox religious adherent can be considered to be disloyal.

    November 8, 2013

  • William C.

    Each individual person does have feeling or idea of loyality. Wether to a person, country, group or cause. So it does have a degree of subjectivity. It is BOTH a subjective experience AND an experience that it shared. It is generally accepted that when two people are in love that they are devoted to the wellbeing of each other. Usually(but not always) this implies faithfulness. Their is a trust they well remain devoted to the wellfare, both physically, and psychologically of each other. When this trust is broken, when one person does something, wether speech or action, that endangers the physical or psychological welfare of another this will be considered disloyal.

    November 7, 2013

  • Yan

    Before we go further with the discussion, I am curious about what is definition of "loyalty". Are we talking about it politically, physically, or spiritually? In Wikipedia, it says "Loyalty is faithfulness or a devotion to a person, country, group, or cause." So here comes about another question: is devotion a subjective experience? Or is it a shared understanding that needed to be agreed upon among the group or defined by the cause?

    November 6, 2013

  • William C.

    Just as loyalty to a political-idealogy can be "misuguided" so can loyalty to a religious-thelology be "misguided". I think that this is more probable when poitical-idealogy is combined with religious-theology.

    I also think that "misguided" loyalty can also be a problem with close personal relationships. People have been known to act unethically out of loyalty to close personal friends, and family.

    November 6, 2013

  • Tim C.

    Interesting readings. I think we are aware loyalty can be "misguided". The Manson Family is a good example of that. Nazism as the readings point out. Isn't loyalty a key part of any of our close personal relationships though?

    November 3, 2013

  • Jake S

    I'd like to attend the upcoming meetup on Nov 17th but not sure about coming to others afterwards. Possibly a one-off member.

    November 1, 2013

  • Merle R.

    The discussion of "loyalty" should be a very exciting and thought provoking one. I don't think I've ever considered that there might be/should be boundaries with regard to loyalties. We really have to wait until 11/17/13 for this meeting??!!

    September 29, 2013

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