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On Liberalism and Neutrality

[journal article]

Placani, Adriana

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Abstract This essay assesses the legitimacy of liberal political theory relative to one of the major theoretical features that it advances – neutrality. The paper considers the latter in light of accommodations, restrictions, and protections for minority groups. The main purpose of this project is to illustrate both how and why liberal political theory is compromised by its focus on neutrality. I counter the deeply liberal conception of the individual, which is understood as an autonomous individual characterized by personal freedom. Personal freedom involves moral self-determination, based on an individual’s right to pursue his or her well-being. Neutrality is sometimes offered by liberal political theorists as a means of resolving the deep conflicts in pluralist societies by various groups. An important part of this work will constitute in a review and assessment of John Rawls’s formulation of neutrality in most depth. I will argue that as it is envisaged by liberal political theory, neutrality necessitates reconsideration because of its virtual absence of provisions for minority groups. My research is aimed at revealing that in order for liberal political theory to succeed in its claims of universality and fundamental rights, it must properly address the position of minority groups within society.
Keywords liberalism; neutrality; the public; Rawls, J.; political theory; morality; law; pluralism; minority; social recognition; minority rights
Classification Basic Research, General Concepts and History of Political Science; Philosophy, Ethics, Religion
Document language English
Publication Year 2009
Page/Pages p. 153-165
Journal Studia Politica : Romanian Political Science Review, 9 (2009) 1
ISSN 1582-4551
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works