Loyalty – A suspect virtue and its limits: Two public discussions on 27th April 2023

Loyalty – A suspect virtue and its limits

Two public discussions sponsored by the Issachar Fund, Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation and the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies

April 27th, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies and Think Corner Stage


Loyalty can be seen as a cluster of highly charged attitudes and feelings considered both admirable and dangerous. For the Roman orator, Cicero, loyalty (fides) was a central virtue, ‘nothing is more noble, more venerable than loyalty’. But even if we see loyalty as a virtue, it is a morally problematic virtue testing personal, familial, religious, community and political bonds. It can focus on persons rather than principles leading to unethical choices and behavior. At the same time, there is generally agreement that disloyalty, the betrayal of loyalty – the failure to be trustworthy or dependable – is a vice.


Morning Panel

Loyalty: Its Power and Vulnerability

Time: 9:45 – 12:15 

Venue: Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (Fabianinkatu 24 A, 3rd floor)

Bringing together a diverse group of international scholars, the morning panel will explore biblical, philosophical and sociological narratives on loyalty. The panel will present their research on how loyalty tests the nature of any allegiance and why it remains a contested virtue. This will be followed by an open discussion and Q&A.


9:45 – 10:15


10:15 – 12:15

Panel discussion


Mona Siddiqui, Jane and Aatos Erkko Professor, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. Recipient of Issachar Fund award on Loyalty. 


Dr Nathanael Vette, Issachar Fund Postdoctoral Researcher, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh

Disloyal Texts: The New Testament among Jews and Christians.


Dr Joshua Forstenzer, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Sheffield

Josiah Royce's 'loyalty to loyalty' and its limits.


Dr Tom Cardwell, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Arts, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies

’It’s who you are’: Heavy metal ‘battle jackets’ and subcultural loyalty


Dr Lilian O’Brien, University Researcher, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies

Loyalty and the open mind


Evening Panel

Religion, Politics and Competing Loyalties: Reflections on the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Time: 17:30 – 19:00 

Venue: Think Corner Stage (Yliopistonkatu 4) 

(Live stream at https://www.helsinki.fi/fi/tiedekulma/katso-ja-kuuntele)

A nation’s sense of self is often organised around political and religious loyalties but in any conflict, new alliances emerge, threatening the world order and heightening religious tensions; politics and religion become inseparable. To discuss these issues, Professor Mona Siddiqui, will be joined by Tuomas Forsberg and Father Heikki Huttunen in a public discussion.


Tuomas Forsberg is the Director of the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. He is on a leave of absence from Tampere University, where he is Professor of International Relations. His most recent research projects have dealt with psychological theories of foreign policy, Russia’s cultural statecraft and the war in Ukraine. 

Very Reverend Protopresbyter Heikki Huttunen is the parish priest of the Holy Trinity Church of the Orthodox Church of Finland in Helsinki. Father Heikki is especially well known for his work on interreligious and intercultural dialogue, having served in several international and ecumenical capacities. These include, for example, his role as the General Secretary of the Ecumenical Council of Finland, the General Secretary of the Conference of European Churches, and Member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches. Currently he serves as the chairperson of the National Forum for Cooperation of Religions in Finland (CORE Forum/USKOT-foorumi), the umbrella organisation for 6 world religions represented in Finland.

Mona Siddiqui, OBE, is Professor of Islamic and Interreligious Studies and Assistant Principal at the University of Edinburgh. Her research lies in the field of Islamic law and ethics and Christian-Muslim relations. Her monographs include Human Struggle: Christian and Muslim Perspectives, and The Good Muslim: Reflections on Classical Islamic Law and Theology. Her current international projects explore Gratitude and Loyalty in Christian and Islamic thought. She is well known internationally as a public intellectual and BBC broadcaster. She is a Fellow of the Royal society of Edinburgh, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and honorary member and first speaker of the Royal Scottish Academy.

This event is supported by