Every society needs cohesion to survive. However, we are likely to have different views on how to implement and manage this cohesion. In this context, the state has a primary role regarding this task as it is often seen as the only alternative to anarchy. The question then arises as to the basis on which the state will govern, decide, and choose to lead its citizens. This thought over the state's role embodies the long-lasting debate between the liberal and the communitarian theory. On the one hand, liberalism places a great emphasis on individual liberty and rights. On the other hand, the communitarians focus on the values of community and the social properties of people. From then on, we could bring up the notion of state neutrality. Indeed, neutrality in the philosophical understanding means that the state does not influence or promote a certain way of life or a certain approach of the good life. Neutralist liberalism then asserts that the state should be neutral, as its actions should not favor anyone in the society. Charles Taylor, a political philosopher, who is engaged in political issues in Canada, stands against this view, though.
[...] To him, a society that works well cannot rest solely on individual freedom and a fair redistribution of resources. Taylor supports instead what Kymlicka calls a “social thesis”: the citizens' capacities only be developed and exercised in a certain kind of society, with a certain kind of social and cultural surrounding.” Hence Taylor “replaces the primacy of the individual with the primacy of community.”. In his opinion, a social bond is necessary to avoid a potential society outburst or disappearance. [...]
[...] Mason, “Autonomy, Liberalism and State Neutrality”, article from the Philosophical Quarterly, Vol N p1 Internet Resources - Caroline Dick, “Kymlicka's cultural theory of Group-Differentiated Rights”, University of Western Ontario: http://www.cpsa-acsp.ca/papers- 2006/Dick.pdf - Michael Heyns, “Patriotism and Social Structure”, Potchefstroom university: http://www.wcp2003.org/Michael_Heyns.doc. - Edward Sankowski, “Liberalism, Communitarianism, and Moral Education”, University of Oklahoma: http://www.ed.uiuc.edu/EPS/PES- Yearbook/1999/sankowski.asp Charles Taylor, "Atomism," in Communitarianism and Individualism, ed. Shlomo Avineri and Avner de-Shalit, Oxford: Oxford University Press pp. 29-50 Andrew D. Mason, “Autonomy, Liberalism and State Neutrality”, article from the Philosophical Quarterly, Vol N p1. [...]
[...] Neutral liberalism is an angelic view, unconnected to the real world in which democracies function.” Thus, Taylor's criticism against neutral liberalism inevitably leads us to the issue of the protection of minorities, or cultures. It clearly appears for Taylor that it is the state's role to protect them from disappearing, and that in this perspective it cannot be neutral. Telford shows that this conservatism is evident in Taylor's work: new communitarian conception of the good life, is now one of settled traditions and established identities.” Plus, according to Taylor, the unequal treatment of some communities is justified when there is an initial inequality. [...]
[...] Philosophy Now Series Editor: John Sand - Charles Taylor, Philosophical Arguments, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press - Will Kymlicka, Liberalism, Community and Culture, Oxford: Oxford University Press - Ronald Dworkin, “Liberalism” in Sandel's, Liberalism and its Critics, New York: New York University Press - Charles Taylor, The Dynamics of Democratic Exclusion, Journal of Democracy, October 1998 - Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self: the Making of the Modern Identity, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press - Joseph Raz, The Morality of Freedom, Oxford: Oxford University Press - Charles Taylor, in Communitarianism and Individualism, ed. [...]
[...] elements, in order to form a broader social group. As Taylor says, “Atomism affirms the self sufficiency of the man alone or, if you prefer, of the individual.” Indeed, atomists consider that individuals are able to exist outside the society or a political context. Thus, we can question the liberal conception of the state and its connection with neutrality. For Andrew D. Mason, idea that respect for persons requires the state to be neutral between different conceptions of the good life is an important component of contemporary liberal theory.” He even adds that this view attractive at least partly because it resonates with the thought that the state should be impartial in relation to its citizens.” From then on, we can wonder whether the state has to be neutral. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee