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Essay in liberal neutrality perfectionism theory
Those who reject the principle of state neutrality entrust the statewith the task of promoting the good. This can give rise to the worrythat a perfectionist account of politics is insufficiently sensitive tothe harm of coercion and to the value of liberty. If the state need notbe neutral among rival understandings of the good, then is the door notopen for the coercive imposition of state policies designed to promotethe good? In fact, many versions of perfectionism drawn from thehistory of political thought have paid little heed to the value ofindividual liberty. It is an important matter, then, to what extentperfectionist politics can be reconciled with a proper regard forindividual liberty.
It is often said that if free speech means anything it means freedom for the thought we hate. This core idea is generally referred to as “viewpoint neutrality” and is consistent with the liberal intuition that governments should remain neutral with regard to conceptions of the good life. None of the traditional defenses of free speech seem to secure viewpoint neutrality, however. Instead, each justification leaves room to censor some viewpoints. Ironically my defense of viewpoint neutrality does not come from the liberal assumption that governments should remain neutral about the good life. I defend a version of the virtue argument for free speech that is explicitly perfectionist—-government does not have to remain neutral when promoting good lives for its citizens. Free speech is not just a means to promote virtue but is part and parcel of intellectual virtue—-a decidedly perfectionist value.
Neutrality theory Essay perfectionism liberal in
This book explores, within a liberal framework, the nature, significance, and justification of political freedom or liberty. Against recent liberal positions, it is argued that political morality is neither rights‐based, nor equality‐based. What underlies rights, and the value of freedom, is a concern with autonomy. Autonomy requires, among other things, that individuals have an array of valuable options to choose from. The realm of values is marked by pluralism, incommensurability, and a dependence on social forms. Individualism is rejected and the importance of collective goods is given due emphasis. Though it is often assumed that liberal states must be committed to neutrality about valuable options, it is contended here that a concern with autonomy is perfectly consistent with perfectionism. The book also contains an extensive discussion of the connection between freedom and political authority.
Second, we will discuss recent accounts of personal autonomy, especially ‘hierarchical’ analyses (Frankfurt/Dworkin) and their critics (Thalberg/Watson/Wolf/Bratman/Velleman) as well as philosophical accounts of the failure of personal autonomy in terms of addiction (Elster/Wallace). Third, we will explore social and political autonomy, including worries about autonomy and the social constitution of selves (Meyers/Friedman), the relationship between autonomy and authenticity (Oshana/Taylor), and the relationship between liberal neutrality, perfectionism, and autonomy (Christman/Hurka/Raz).
Perfectionism and Neutrality: Essays in Liberal Theory, ..
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