Nationalism and Democracy Mills influence on John Rawls The by csgirla


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									Nationalism and Democracy: Mill’s influence on John Rawls

The paper aims at understanding the influence of Mill’s conception of the nation on John
Rawls’s later work. Rawls regularly mentions Mill’s “principle of sympathy” in his argument
that stability has structural, not simply moral or political sources, and that sovereignty has to
be re-interpreted along these lines. The paper would like to explore the three following
consequences of this view.

First, it would aim to shed some light on the nature of political groups. Peoples are more
than collections of individuals. In common with individuals, peoples are autonomous, but in
contrast with them, they have structural features that allow them to be fairly self-standing over
time, even if they are not sovereign, as in the case of national identities surviving the absence
of a state.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, such a comparison may provide an answer to the
question of the nature of democratic shared values and of liberal nationalism. As Yael Tamir
writes, “contrary to widespread perceptions, national communities might in some respects, be
more open and pluralistic than communities in which social bonds rely on a set of shared
values.” (1993: 90)

Thirdly, Mill’s conception of political stability provides Rawls with a strong argument in the
discussion of cosmopolitanism as the main view among liberal political theorists. Rawls’s
holistic conception of justice claims that the actors on the world scene are not individuals, as
liberals claim, but first of all, peoples or nations possessing a moral status that international
law must respect.

Catherine Audard

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