It is disconcerting to open a book subtitled An Essay on the Morality of Relationships and find that the two case studies that most interest the author are reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools and the criminalization of flag burning. Although George Fletcher begins to make his case for giving moral priority to loyalties by referring to the impulse to save one's mother from a burning house (p. 12), he is more concerned with the ties that bind individuals to groups than with the ethics of relationships between individuals. The loyalties to which Fletcher would give "moral importance" (p. ix) are those among people who share a common culture (p. xi). Yet, as is apparent in his opening reference to the imperiled mother, Fletcher wishes to ground those more far-reaching loyalties in the feelings inspired by family intimacy. The organization of the book assumes that the emotions felt in these two quite different contexts are analogous. In drawing out that analogy, Fletcher assumes that his own rather idiosyncratic views about family and state are widely shared. This results in a very confusing book, one that often leaves its conclusions obscure because it proceeds by assertion and assumption more than argument.
Whitman, Christina B. "Whose Loyalties?" Review of Loyalty: An Essay on the Morality of Relationships, by G. P. Fletcher. Mich. L. Rev. 91 (1993): 1266-77.