Neutrality without pluralism

European Journal of Political Theory 20 (2) (2018)
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Friends and foes of liberal neutrality assume that neutrality presupposes pluralism. On this view, the state should be neutral among the many permissible conceptions of the individual good that citizens affirm. I argue that neutrality need not be construed as a response to pluralism. I focus on the case of specifically religious neutrality and argue that it can be an appropriate political response to what I call “the fact of religious hegemony,” which is a social scenario in which a particular religion is unanimously recognized as dominant. Religious neutrality, in this kind of context, requires the state to avoid all religious words and symbols that can be taken as an expression of endorsement or criticism of religion. I take this conception of religious neutrality from both political history and current political practice and discourse. Neutrality was originally conceived of as a proper political response in contexts of religious hegemony both in France and in Mexico. Today, and despite the growth of religious pluralism, this conception continues to be a live political posture in the places where it first originated. I call it “neutrality as independence from religion” and argue that it differs from liberal neutrality in crucial respects.



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Faviola Rivera Castro
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico

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References found in this work

Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Philosophy 63 (243):119-122.
Contemporary Political Philosophy. An Introduction.Will Kymlicka - 1993 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 55 (1):180-181.

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