Liberal Nationalism - Defending the Very Idea

ISSEI, 2000

10 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2011

Date Written: 2000


Alleged tensions between liberalism and nationalism have recently received sustained attention . Several authors have explored or defended moderate views . Yet liberal theories are considered unable to account for political allegiance - the duty to comply with the just laws and institutions of one's own state. I assume that political allegiance is central to the very idea of nationalism. If it is incompatible with "cosmopolitan" universalist liberalism, the critics are right.

The article seeks to respond from a liberal contractualist position similar to that of Rawls, Barry, Dworkin or Scanlon (Rawls 1971, 1971, Barry 1995, Dworkin 1978, Scanlon 1998). This is the main content of section 2. This is not to say that liberal contractualism endorses nationalism understood as a principle of political order, that political and cultural/ethnic boundaries should coincide . In order to bring this out, section 3 of the article includes some considerations concerning the grounds for recognising national groups' claims to some measures of political autonomy. By way of introduction, first a brief sketch of some elements of Liberal Contractualism.

Keywords: liberal contractualism, liberal nationalism, political theory

Suggested Citation

Follesdal, Andreas, Liberal Nationalism - Defending the Very Idea (2000). ISSEI, 2000. Available at SSRN:

Andreas Follesdal (Contact Author)

Pluricourts ( email )

P.O. Box 6706
St. Olavs plass 5
0130 Oslo

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