We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Do we owe more to fellow nationals? The particular and universal ethics in Bosanquet’s general will and Miller’s public culture.

Dimova-Cookson, Maria (2014) 'Do we owe more to fellow nationals? The particular and universal ethics in Bosanquet’s general will and Miller’s public culture.', in Ethical citizenship : British idealism and the politics of recognition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 200-223. Palgrave studies in ethics and public policy.


There are significant similarities between Bosanquet’s ethical function of the state and Miller’s defence of nations as communities that generate duties. Bosanquet’s references to the state are predominantly to the nation state (1917a: p. 295), and Miller argues that there are good reasons for states and nations to coincide. More to the point, there are essential similarities in the reasons why these two thinkers believe in the ethical significance of the nation state. Many of their arguments in defence of the state or the nation, respectively, are based on the particularist nature of communities in principle and the nation state in particular. The state, for Bosanquet, has ethical significance because it embodies the general will and the latter can exist only in specific communities with shared experiences and established traditions. The general will is anchored in specific communities, institutions and practices and the state is ‘the largest body which possesses the unity of experience necessary for constituting a general will’ (Bosanquet, 1917a: p. 272). Miller’s commitment to particularist ethics is explicit. Particularism, for him, works on the assumption ‘that memberships and attachments in general have ethical significance’ (Miller, 1995: p. 65). National membership, however, supersedes in ethical significance other memberships for two reasons: existence of public culture and national self-determination.

Item Type:Book chapter
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:Dimova-Cookson, Maria, Do We Owe More to Fellow Nationals? The Particular and Universal Ethics of Bosanquet's General Will and Miller's Public Culture, 2014, Palgrave Macmillan reproduced with permission of Palgrave Macmillan. This extract is taken from the author's original manuscript and has not been edited. The definitive, published, version of record is available here:
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:24 April 2017
Date of first online publication:01 January 2014
Date first made open access:No date available

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar