History

Josiah Royce (November 20, 1855 – September 14, 1916) was an American advocate of absolute idealism[1] . He earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and was awarded a doctorate in philosophy from John Hopkins University[2] . In 1882, Royce became a professor of philosophy at Harvard University, where he became close friends with the American pragmatist
William James.

Royce has authored work in metaphysic s and epistemology , ethics and practical philosophy, religious philosophy, and logic[3] . His most famous literary works include The Religious Aspect of Philosophy (1885), The World and the Individual (1899-1901), The Philosophy of Loyalty (1908), and The Problem of Christianity (1913)[4] . Josiah Royce's main influences were William James and Charles Sanders Pierce [5]


The Philosophy of Loyalty

Royce wrote The Philosophy of Loyalty (1908) "to help you to revise some of your moral standards, but to help you to give to this revision some definitive form and tendency, some image and hint of finality"
[6] .

In The Philosophy of Loyalty, "Royce sets out to build an ethical system around the notion of loyalty "[7] . His ethical philosophy is rooted in his analysis of the conditions necessary for an individual's life to be meaningful. According to Royce, human fulfillment depends on loyalty, which he defined as "the willing and practical devotion of a person to a cause"[8] .

The "ethics of loyalty" posits that loyalty should be the foundational concept of ethical theory[9] . Royce's absolute idealist philosophy proposes that our loyalties are what determines good moral thinking[10] , as "the moral value of actions is a matter of whether they are loyal, and whether they tend to fulfill the community's intended aim[11] " (Communitarianism). Royce states that our "ethical obligation is to the moral order and takes the form of loyalty to the great community of all individuals"[12] .

Royce's philosophy can be considered a form of existentialism.
In order to experience "true" loyalty, we must be loyal to the ideals that promote the formation and expansion of communities of loyalty[13] . We experience what Royce calls "predatory" loyalty when loyalty "is directed exclusively to a particular group and is expressed in the destruction of the conditions for other's loyal actions, of those other persons, and even one's own community and cause"[14] . Being loyal to Hitler's Nazi regime is an example of predatory loyalty. True loyalty is found in the moral actions which uphold and promote loyalty to the greater good of society.


Criticisms

Primary criticisms with Royce’s philosophy of loyalty “is that it does not discriminate between loyalties, it does not tell us how to be loyal, or to what we should be loyal to”[15] . Royce's narrow definition of "true loyalty," is intended to rule out loyalty to morally evil causes and the communities that serve them, however, our tendency to have egocentric loyalties conflicts with the progression of Royce's philosophy.

Consider for-profit organizations, who must have egocentric loyalties to key stakeholders to ensure their organizations remain operational. Whether these loyalties promote the greater good of society is subject to personal judgment.

Here in lies the main problem with Royce’s philosophy of loyalty. Being loyal will not always constitute being ethical to certain people/communities, and without clear guidelines for determining our loyalties, true loyalty is unlikely to ever exist.

  1. ^ Parker, Kelly A., "Josiah Royce", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2008/entries/royce/
  2. ^ Borchert, D. M. (2006). Encyclopedia of philosophy (2nd ed.). Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA.
  3. ^ Parker, Kelly A., "Josiah Royce", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL =http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2008/entries/royce/
  4. ^ Parker, Kelly A., "Josiah Royce", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2008/entries/royce/
  5. ^ Parker, Kelly A., "Josiah Royce", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2008/entries/royce/
  6. ^ Royce, J. (1971). The philosophy of loyalty. New York: Hafner Pub. Co.
  7. ^ Keller, S. (2007). Royce and communitarianism University of Illinois Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=hlh&AN=26635155&loginpage=Login.asp&site=ehost-live&scope=site
  8. ^ Josiah royce. (1994). Ethics (Ready Reference Series), Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lfh&AN=MOL0210000190&loginpage=Login.asp&site=ehost-live&scope=site
  9. ^ Keller, S. (2007). The limits of loyalty. Cambridge, U.K. ; New York: Cambridge University Press.
  10. ^ Keller, S. (2007). The limits of loyalty. Cambridge, U.K. ; New York: Cambridge University Press.
  11. ^ .Keller, S. (2007). The limits of loyalty. Cambridge, U.K. ; New York: Cambridge University Press.
  12. ^ Royce, josiah. (2009). Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition, , 1-1. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lfh&AN=39029290&loginpage=Login.asp&site=ehost-live&scope=site
  13. ^ Parker, Kelly A., "Josiah Royce", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2008/entries/royce/
  14. ^ To be loyal or not to be loyal. (2007). Retrieved 10/22, 2009, from http://www.filipinowriter.com/to-be-loyal-or-not-to-be-loyal
  15. ^ Keller, S. (2007). Royce and communitarianism University of Illinois Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=hlh&AN=26635155&loginpage=Login.asp&site=ehost-live&scope=site