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The Educational Autonomy of Perfectionist Religious Groups in a Liberal State

1 Journal of Law, Religion & State 16 (2012)

Chicago-Kent College of Law Research Paper

29 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2012 Last revised: 12 Dec 2012

Mark D. Rosen

Chicago-Kent College of Law - Illinois Institute of Technology

Date Written: December 6, 2012

Abstract

This Article draws upon, but reworks, John Rawls’ framework from Political Liberalism to determine the degree of educational autonomy that illiberal perfectionist religious groups ought to enjoy in a liberal state. I start by arguing that Rawls mistakenly concludes that political liberalism flatly cannot accommodate Perfectionists, and that his misstep is attributable to two errors: (1) Rawls utilizes an overly restrictive “political conception of the person” in determining who participates in the original position, and (2) Rawls overlooks the possibility of a “federalist” basic political structure that can afford significant political autonomy to different groups within a single country. With these insights, I argue that some, though not all, religious Perfectionists are consistent with a stable liberal polity, and explain why foundational Rawlsian premises require that Perfectionists be accommodated to the extent possible.

My ultimate conclusions are that liberal polities ought to grant significant autonomy to those illiberal groups that satisfy specified conditions, and that the autonomy of such “eligible” illiberal groups is subject to two further constraints, which I call “well-orderedness” and “opt-out.” The autonomy to which eligible Perfections are entitled includes the authority to educate their children in a way that provides a fair opportunity for the groups to perpetuate themselves. The constraint of well-orderedness, however, permits the State to impose educational requirements that facilitate peace and political stability. Accommodating eligible illiberal groups, subject to these constraints, is an instantiation of liberal commitments, not a compromise of liberal values.

Keywords: Rawls, Political Liberalism, political conception of the person, federalism, perfectionism, education, exit, Kymlicka, Sen, Waldron

JEL Classification: K30, K39

Suggested Citation

Rosen, Mark D., The Educational Autonomy of Perfectionist Religious Groups in a Liberal State (December 6, 2012). 1 Journal of Law, Religion & State 16 (2012); Chicago-Kent College of Law Research Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2186229

Mark D. Rosen (Contact Author)

Chicago-Kent College of Law - Illinois Institute of Technology ( email )

565 W. Adams St.
Chicago, IL 60661-3691
United States
312-906-5132 (Phone)

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