Is it moral to prefer your family members or the members of your nation over others, or is this an immoral prejudice? Does God demand blind obedience, or is there another attitude of loyalty which God demands? How is loyalty different from obedience? Does loyalty to family, nation and God prevent us from conducting honest investigation into moral questions, or does loyalty assist us in this inquiry into moral truths?
In this course we will discuss the role of loyalty to family, nation, tradition and God and consider whether loyalty is opposed to truth. We will ask what assumptions make us suspicious of loyalty, and why loyalty is not discussed more in our schools and universities. We will also consider what conception of truth renders loyalty problematic, and what conception of truth makes loyalty a necessity. We will explore these ideas by reading excerpts from Tanach, Plato’s Republic, Berkovits’ God, Man and History, and Hazony’s Conservatism: A Rediscovery, among other Jewish and non-Jewish philosophical sources.
Dr. Avital Levi
Tel Aviv University
Avital H. Levi received her PhD in philosophy from the University of Arizona. Her dissertation proposed an original theory of moral obligation in the sentimentalist tradition of David Hume. Her research centers on the intersection between ethics and epistemology, and she is currently writing a book on the role of loyalty in the ethical and political theory of the Hebrew Bible. Dr. Levi is a postdoctoral fellow at the Safra Center for Ethics at Tel Aviv University. She holds a BA in philosophy from Princeton University and an MA in philosophy from Ben Gurion University, and she studied Torah at Migdal Oz, Nishmat, and Herzog College. She lives in Jerusalem with her husband Eliyahu and their three children.