, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 691-706
Date: 04 Nov 2011

Solidarity and Social Moral Rules

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Abstract

The value of solidarity, which is exemplified in noble groups like the Civil Rights Movement along with more mundane teams, families and marriages, is distinctive in part because people are in solidarity over, for or with regard to something, such as common sympathies, interests, values, etc. I use this special feature of solidarity to resolve a longstanding puzzle about enacted social moral rules, which is, aren’t these things just heuristics, rules of thumb or means of coordination that we ‘fetishize’ or ‘worship’ if we stubbornly insist on sticking to them when we can do more good by breaking them? I argue that when we are in a certain kind of solidarity with others, united by social moral rules that we have established among ourselves, the rules we have developed and maintain are a constitutive part of our solidary relationships with one another; and it is part of being in this sort of solidarity with our comrades that we are presumptively required to follow the social moral rules that join us together. Those in the Polish Revolution, for example, were bound by informally enforced rules about publicity, free speech and the use of violence, so following their own rules became a way of standing in a valuable sort of solidarity with one another. I explain why we can have non-instrumental reasons to follow the social moral rules that exist in our own society, improve our rules and even sometimes to break the otherwise good rules that help to unite us.