Do people have special responsibilities towards their fellow nationals?
Do people have special responsibilities towards their fellow nationals?
This paper argues that, people have obligation toward their fellow nationals more than toward foreigners. To present this argument, firstly, I argue that there are two reasons for the question that why do we have responsibility toward our country men. One is because a nationality has common territory, identity, and history, so they have “legal and moral duties” toward each other. The other reason is the “special relationship” that a social group has, motivates them to accept, and feel special “duties” and “rights” toward each other. Then, I will present two replies for the two objections by liberal egalitarians that “we have same obligation toward our fellow nationals and foreigners,” and Universalists objection that our own nationality do not own more than foreigners, and we should help anyone in need. Finally, the paper will be concluded by some remarks.
The first reasons is that, when a group of people, or a nationality live in the same territory and they share same identity, history, and national identity, so they have legal and moral duties toward each other. In other words, Goodin calls that group of people as “a mutual benefited society.” Moreover, he adds, “We have a duty- morally and perhaps legally- to provide minimum level of basic necessities for compatriots” (Goodin, 670). This indicates that we may treat citizens of our country better than non citizens for some “reasonable” grounds, which are for the common benefit of our nationals. By “mutual benefited society” he means a society that people have positive and negative duties toward each other. Positive duty means that everyone is better off as a result of performing those duties. Negative duty is that, along with those duties harm is always permissible, but the condition is that some positive good comes out of it (Goodin, 675). To support the statement that people of a nation have legal and moral duties toward each other, I would like to present two examples that Goodin gave. The first example is that we can conscript fellow citizens for service in our army forces, even if they live abroad. We cannot so conscript foreign nationals, even if they live within our territory. The second example is that we can tax our fellow citizens, even if they live abroad. We cannot so tax foreigners living out of our territory on income earned abroad (Goodin, 668).These examples justifies that we have responsibility toward our fellow nationals, because they have a right on us and we have a duty toward them. Thus, people of a nation have legal and moral duties toward each other because there is a two way affairs, or a special relationship among them.
The second reason is that a “special relationship” within a social group has an effect on their moral duties toward each other (Goodin, 671). Living within a group creates special relationship, attachment, commitment, and that motivates them to accept special “duties” and “rights” toward each other. Additionally, Robert E. Goodin says, “We may legitimately impose burdens upon those standing in special relationship to us that we may not impose upon those in no special relation to us, merely because we have special rights against them, and they have special duties toward us” (Goodin, 674). This shows that people are interested in having special relationship and they also accept to the rights and duties that come along with that relationship. In favor of my argument, I present the classic example by Goodin, he wrote that suppose two people are trapped in fire one is your mother the other is a public benefactor. You can only rescue one, the other will die. Who will u rescue? (Goodin, 665). The answer is “my” mother, this pronoun “my” illustrates the relationship, and along with it the responsibility that I have toward my relationship (mother). Hence, a special relationship motivates us to consent to special responsibilities toward our fellow nationals.
Conversely, there are two critics against the argument that we have more responsibility toward our fellow nationals than foreigners. One is the egalitarian liberalist argument, which states that, “our obligation of justice toward our fellow nationals is the same as our obligation of justice toward foreigners” (Fabre, 96). This, Perhaps, designates that individuals are worthy of equal concerns and respects, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, and social membership(Fabre, 97). The Universalist critic is that, “universalist theories require everyone to treat all human beings equal” (Caney, 124). This passage points to the Universalist case for nationality that a societies have citizens in different level of abilities, therefore; it is better that redistribution be in favor of needy. This means that Universalists are concerned with the problem that if every nation is in charge of their own nation, the result might be that the poor will get poorer and the rich will get richer (Millar, 652, 661). Therefore, we can assume from a Universalist perspective, that they do not support nationality.
In response to the first critic that we have same obligation toward our fellow nationals and foreigners, I would like to refer to the example of Goodin that we rescue our own mother from the fire rather than the stranger. If we suppose that every individual is in charge of one other individual in case of need, then it is more realistic that first, we would help those who we owe. Likewise, there are philosophers who disagree that obligation to foreigners are the same as to our obligation to fellow nationals, like Fabre says, “we have obligation of justice towards both foreigners and fellow nationals, but we owe more to the latter that do to former” (Fabre, 103). This claim indicates that we do not have the same obligation toward national fellows and others. A statistical example which shows, it is more realistic that we have obligation toward our fellow nation more than foreigners, is Americas’ donation for Asian Tsunami and Katrina. In 2004 Asian Tsunami 2220.000 people was killed and U.S donated $1.54 billion. Furthermore, in Hurricane Katrina 1.600 person was killed, and U.S donated $6.5 billion (Oberman). This example shows it is more realistic that people behave more responsible toward their fellow nationals than toward foreigners.
With regard to the Universalist argument that, we are required to treat everyone equally, it could be counter argued that in real world “special relationship” matters, because people are motivated to have action toward each other first, then foreigners. Additionally, enclosed with special relationship, everyone is most probably to be better off by the course of time. As Goodin says, “Intuitively, we suppose that one count of those social relations between us, we owe all of those people special treatment of some sort or another: special “kindness,” “services,” or sacrifices;” we believe that we ought to try to give them certain kind of benefit” (Goodin, 666). This means that morally our intention is to benefit others, and we start it from the needy person near to us, or in a special relationship to us. However, this that it creates inequality among the nations, because some nations are poor and some are rich. However, considering The Law of People according to Rawls, “in equalities are not always unjust, and that when they are, it is because of their unjust effects on the basic structure of the society of the peoples, and on the relations among those people and on relations among their members” (Rawls, 113). In this case inequality is not unjust because, the intention is good, the rich nation would help its own people first, and they will be a better off nation, then they will help others, so the worst off nation will be better off as well. Thus, the motivation that people have as a result of their “special relationship,” encourages them to have action for the betterment of their nations.
In conclusion, People have responsibility toward their fellow nationals more than toward foreigners, because a nation lives in a “mutual benefited society,” they share same identity and history, and they have “special relationship that motivates them to accept legal and moral duties toward each other. The response to the Universalist theory of equal treatment, and egalitarian theory of we have the same obligation toward our fellow nationals and foreigners, would be that people in a society have “especial relationship,” and they tend to act according to the motivation that they get from that relationship which is more realistic as well. Likewise, people attribute non- instrumental values to a relationship this is also a reason that people feel more responsibility to those who they own. Consequently, we can suggest that duties, responsibilities and rights that we have, or accept to have toward our fellow nationals, secures the expectation and loyalty of them toward us, so calculating our benefits and security we decide how to act toward our countrymen and foreigners.
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