Patriotism is most fervently displayed in times of war and impending war. Even during times of peace, patriotism is often expressed in commemorations of war and in ceremonies involving the military. Is patriotism warlike? Does patriotism lust for violence? Or is there an achievable form of patriotism grounded in respect for humanity in general, and aimed at achieving peace? This talk traces a series of philosophical arguments about the connection between patriotism and war, asking along the way what values and beliefs characterise patriotism, how patriotism is cultivated and used, and how patriotism is manifested in Australia. The great danger of patriotism, I suggest, is not so much its inherent connection with violence as its tendency to suppress reason – and hence its tendency to suppress a crucial form of protection against ill-considered and unjustified war.
Simon Keller is a Professor of Philosophy at Victoria University, Wellington. He has previously held appointments at Boston University and University of Melbourne. Much of his work is focused on the ethical and political significance of special relationships. He is the author of The Limits of Loyalty, which won the American Philosophical Association Book Prize in 2009, and Partiality. His most recent book, co-authored with John Kleinig and Igor Primoratz, is The Ethics of Patriotism: A Debate.