National Identity: What is it that determines ones national identity?

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Tristan Lorenz Ingwersen
4. term, Applied Philosophy, Master (Master Programme)
In this thesis I try to answer the problem statement: “What is it that determines ones national identity?” In order to do this I will create a new and original theory of national Identity, which I will be calling the “descent theory”.
It states that what determines national identity is the criterion of descent. This implies that nations are the kind of groups, which we are born in to. Thus or national identity is a quality we acquire at conception.
I will be advancing 3 main arguments to defend this theory, and argue that it should be accepted above other alternative theories because it is less problematic and more plausible.
During this process of argumentation, I will analyze many possible alternative theories, and scrutinize them in an effort to show that they are implausible.
Amongst these theoretical stances will be Nihilism (about nations/nation-nihilism), Primordialism, Subjectivism, Relativism, Social constructionism and an offshoot from my own theory of national identity which I have decided to call Cultural Copying Theory. Of, these social constructionism will get the most thorough coverage, since it is the most formidable one of all the theoretical positions.
I will attempt to discredit these other possible theoretical stances on national identity by showing that they are problematic or implausible. I will do this by showing where they are internally inconsistent, incoherent or have implications which are problematic, implausible or for some other reason unacceptable.
I will then subject my own theory to that same level of scrutiny, after having laid out my other arguments for it. Apart, from this first argument, which I will be calling the exclusionary argument, I have two argument more, which I will be calling the two positive arguments, since they give reasons for why we should accept the descent theory, which are not based just on other theory being unsatisfactory.
The three biggest points of criticism which I will level at my own theory, are the questions of how my theory deals with people of mixed descent, how it explains how nations come into being and how it deals with the topic of adoptions.
I will solve these criticisms by arguing, that most peoples national identities are in fact mixed, that nations come into existence gradually, which means that we therefore cannot point out the moment in time were they begin and that adoption does not change a person’s national identity which they received at conception.
After this I will conclude that my theory is plausible, and that the answer to my problem statement which follows from the theory, is in fact that our national identity is something we have passed down to us from our parents.
Publication date2 Jun 2020
Number of pages78
ID: 333460201