LOYALTY by George P. Fletcher


An Essay on the Morality of Relationships
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 A long and dense essay that defends the virtue of commitment. The conservative-leaning Supreme Court recently let stand its earlier ruling that burning the American flag was an act of free speech, protected under the First Amendment. Here, liberal-leaning Fletcher (Law/Columbia University; A Crime of Self-Defense, 1988) questions that high-court position. He also questions divorce, job- hopping, and whether a surrogate mother should be forced to give up the baby if she changes her mind. All of Fletcher's arguments arise in defense of reinstating loyalty--to family, to country, to religion--as a primary virtue in our moral lives. Both personal fulfillment and the ``greater good,'' Fletcher says, should make room for the commitments demanded by marriage, patriotism, and a higher power. But Fletcher drags loyalty--and readers--through such a maze of positives and negatives, of on-the-one-hands vs. on-the- other-hands, that it's hard to follow--or to care about--his discussion. But he does offer some interesting insights--e.g., about how the ``trade-up'' goals of the marketplace mentality have affected personal relationships--plus, not so interesting, an odd fixation on the Pledge of Allegiance. Provocative, but so abstruse as to turn off all but the most persevering readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-19-507026-7
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1992


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