Skip to main content

Toleration and Neutrality

  • 262 Accesses

Abstract

In liberal thinking, a neutral state is one that takes no position on the ends its citizens should pursue in their lives. It establishes the ground rules within which they are to live but refrains from steering them either toward or away from any conception of the good life. The idea that toleration requires the state to remain neutral on differences of religion is widely accepted. Recent liberal thinking has sought to generalize that idea: a society should not use political power of any sort either to favor or disfavor a particular conception of the good life, be it religious or nonreligious. The idea of the neutral state is therefore an attempt to realize political toleration in a thorough-going fashion. This chapter locates neutralist thinking in the work of contemporary liberal philosophers, particularly that of John Rawls. It examines how the ideas of toleration and neutrality are related and how the toleration secured by a neutral state differs from that exhibited by the pre-democratic regimes of earlier ages. It explains different ways in which state neutrality can be understood and how different understandings of neutrality bear on issues of distributive justice and public policy. It then turns to the question of how state neutrality might be justified. Finally, it considers how extensive the liberal state’s neutrality might be and whether there can be a rapprochement between neutralism and its opposite, perfectionism (the belief that the state should be guided by a conception of the good).

Keywords

  • Comprehensive doctrine
  • Conception of the good
  • Justice
  • Liberalism
  • Neutralism
  • Neutrality
  • Perfectionism
  • Political neutrality
  • Rawls
  • State neutrality
  • Toleration

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-42121-2_7
  • Chapter length: 25 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   549.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-42121-2
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Hardcover Book
USD   599.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

References

  • Ackerman B (1980) Social justice in the liberal state. Yale University Press, New Haven

    Google Scholar 

  • Arneson R (1989) Equality and equal opportunity for welfare. Philos Stud 56:77–93

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Arneson R (1990a) Neutrality and utility. Can J Philos 20:215–240

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Arneson R (1990b) Liberalism, distributive subjectivism and equal opportunity for welfare. Philos Public Aff 19:158–194

    Google Scholar 

  • Balint P (2017) Respecting toleration. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Barry B (1995) Justice as impartiality. Clarendon Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Barry B (2001) Culture and equality. Polity, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Benbaji H, Heyd D (2001) The charitable perspective: forgiveness and toleration as supererogatory. Can J Philos 31:567–586

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Bird C (1996) Mutual respect and neutral justification. Ethics 107:62–96

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Bou-Habib P (2006) A theory of religious accommodation. J Appl Philos 23:109–126

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Caney S (1995) Anti-perfectionism and Rawlsian liberalism. Polit Stud 43:248–264

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Caney S (1998) Impartiality and liberal neutrality. In: Kelly P (ed) Impartiality, neutrality and justice: re-reading Brian Barry’s justice as impartiality. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh

    Google Scholar 

  • Chan J (2000) Legitimacy, unanimity and perfectionism. Philos Public Aff 29:5–42

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Churchill RP (2003) Neutrality and the virtue of toleration. In: Castiglione D, McKinnon C (eds) Toleration, neutrality and democracy. Kluwer, Dordrecht

    Google Scholar 

  • Clarke S (1999) Contractarianism, liberal neutrality and epistemology. Polit Stud 47:627–642

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Clayton M (2004) A puzzle about ethics, justice, and the sacred. In: Burley J (ed) Dworkin and his critics. Blackwell, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Cohen GA (1989) On the currency of egalitarian justice. Ethics 99:904–944

    Google Scholar 

  • Cohen GA (2004) Expensive tastes ride again. In: Burley J (ed) Dworkin and his critics. Blackwell, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Cohen AJ (2015) Contemporary liberalism and toleration. In: Wall S (ed) The Cambridge companion to liberalism. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Cordelli C (2017) Neutrality of what? Crit Rev Int Soc Pol Phil 20:36–48

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Dworkin R (1986) A matter of principle. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Dworkin R (2000) Sovereign virtue: the theory and practice of equality. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA

    Google Scholar 

  • Dworkin R (2004) Ronald Dworkin replies. In: Burley J (ed) Dworkin and his critics. Blackwell, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Gray J (2000) Two faces of liberalism. Polity, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Heyd D (2008) Is toleration a political virtue? In: Williams MS, Waldron J (eds) Toleration and its limits. New York University Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Horton J (1996) Toleration as a virtue. In: Heyd D (ed) Toleration: an elusive virtue. Princeton University Press, Princeton

    Google Scholar 

  • Hurka T (1993) Perfectionism. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Jones P (2018) Essays on toleration. ECPR Press/Rowman & Littlefield, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Jones P (2020) Essays on culture, religion and rights. ECPR Press/Rowman & Littlefield, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Kelly P (ed) (2002) Multiculturalism reconsidered. Polity, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Klosko G (2003) Reasonable rejection and neutrality of justification. In: Steven W, Klosko G (eds) Perfectionism and neutrality: essays in liberal political theory. Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham

    Google Scholar 

  • Laborde C (2017) Liberalism’s religion. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Laborde C (2018) The evanescence of neutrality. Political Theory 46:99–105

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Larmore C (1987) Patterns of moral complexity. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Larmore C (1996) The morals of modernity. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Lecce SA (2003) Contractualism and neutrality: a defence. Polit Stud 51:524–541

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Leiter B (2012) Why tolerate religion? Princeton University Press, Princeton

    Google Scholar 

  • Lippert-Rasmussen K (2017) Dispositional neutrality and minority rights. Crit Rev Int Soc Pol Phil 20:49–62

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Locke J (1968) A letter on toleration (ed: Klibansky R). Clarendon Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • MacIntyre A (1988) Whose justice? Which rationality? Duckworth, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Macleod CM (1997) Liberal neutrality or liberal tolerance? Law Philos 16:529–559

    Google Scholar 

  • Meckled-Garcia S (2003) Toleration and neutrality: incompatible ideals? In: Castiglione D, McKinnon C (eds) Toleration, neutrality and democracy. Kluwer, Dordrecht

    Google Scholar 

  • Montefiore A (1975) Neutrality and impartiality. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Nagel T (1991) Equality and partiality. Oxford University Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Newey G (1999) Virtue, reason and toleration. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh

    Google Scholar 

  • Nozick R (1974) Anarchy, state and utopia. Blackwell, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Patten A (2014) Equal recognition: the moral foundations of minority rights. Princeton University Press, Princeton

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Quong J (2011) Liberalism without perfection. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Rawls J (1971) A theory of justice. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Rawls J (1993) Political liberalism. Columbia University Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Rawls J (2001) Justice as fairness: a restatement. Belknap Press, Cambridge, MA

    Google Scholar 

  • Raz J (1986) The morality of freedom. Clarendon Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Sandel M (1998) Liberalism and the limits of justice. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Scanlon TM (1986) Equality of resources and equality of welfare: a forced marriage? Ethics 97:111–118

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Scanlon TM (2006) Justice, responsibility, and the demands of equality. In: Sypnowich C (ed) The egalitarian conscience: essays in honour of G. A. Cohen. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Sher G (1997) Beyond neutrality. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Vallier K, Weber M (eds) (2018) Religious exemptions. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Wall S (1998) Liberalism, perfectionism and restraint. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Wall S (2001) Neutrality and responsibility. J Philos 98:389–410

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Wall S (2010) Neutralism for perfectionists: the case of restricted state neutrality. Ethics 120:232–256

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Peter Jones .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Section Editor information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this entry

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this entry

Jones, P. (2022). Toleration and Neutrality. In: Sardoč, M. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Toleration. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42121-2_7

Download citation