What is Neutrality

General Subserie Research Paper No. 2011-02

Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2011-20

26 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2011 Last revised: 27 Aug 2014

Roland Pierik

University of Amsterdam

Wibren van der Burg

Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam; Queen Mary University of London, School of Law

Date Written: August 26, 2011

Abstract

This paper reinvestigates the question of liberal neutrality. We contend that current liberal discussions have been dominated – if not hijacked – by one particular interpretation of what neutrality could imply; namely, exclusive neutrality, aiming to exclude religious and cultural expressions from the public sphere. We will argue that this is merely one among several relevant interpretations. To substantiate our claim, we will firstly elaborate upon inclusive neutrality by formulating two supplementary
interpretations: proportional neutrality and compensatory neutrality. Secondly, we will argue that inclusive proportional neutrality is the most appropriate interpretation in many contexts. Our elaboration highlights that some political disputes should not be seen in terms of the antithesis between liberal neutrality and illiberal alternatives but, instead, as a clash between various valid but incompatible interpretations of what liberal neutrality may imply.

Keywords: state neutrality, Laïcité, Rawls, multiculturalism, inclusive neutrality exclusive neutrality

JEL Classification: K19

Suggested Citation

Pierik, Roland and van der Burg, Wibren, What is Neutrality (August 26, 2011). General Subserie Research Paper No. 2011-02 ; Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2011-20. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1917392 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1917392

Roland Pierik (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Oudemanhuispoort 4-6
Amsterdam, 1012 CN
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.rolandpierik.nl/theory

Wibren Van der Burg

Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam ( email )

Section Sociology, Theory and Methodology
PO Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.wibrenvanderburg.nl

Queen Mary University of London, School of Law ( email )

Mile End Road
London, E1 4NS
United Kingdom

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