The Problem With Loyalty

Click to play audio podcast

May 19, 2011


Interview with Eric Felten, author of the book Loyalty: The Vexing Virtue




Mike Carruthers:
Loyalty is an admirable trait however loyalty can get tricky when it conflicts with other loyalties.


Eric Felten:
The loyalty that I have to my family might be at odds with the loyalty I have to a friend. The loyalty I have to a friend might be at odds to the loyalty I have to my community or country.

Eric Felten

Eric Felten, author of the book Loyalty...


There’s an old joke that a friend will help you move a piano, a good friend will help you move a body - and I think that often the clash or loyalties in trying to negotiate that is a lot of what drives us crazy in life.


Eric likens loyalty to the net under a tight rope walker.


And even if you don’t fall off the tight rope knowing that there is a net there to catch you is empowering it emboldens you to give it a try knowing that if you fall you’ll be caught.


An example of how problematic loyalty can be is when David Kaczynski realized his brother Ted was the Unabomber.


He does go ahead and call the FBI and turn his brother in and yet he does so anonymously. He originally made that phone call anonymously I think because even though he knew it was the right thing to turn in his brother he still recognized that there was something unseemly about turning in your own brother. And I think that’s a measure of how tricky loyalty can be. 


To hear the complete unedited interview, click here



  • Length: 1:45 minutes (1.6 MB)
  • Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 128Kbps (CBR)
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