What is Neutrality?

20 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2014

See all articles by Roland Pierik

Roland Pierik

University of Amsterdam

Wibren van der Burg

Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Date Written: December 2014


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 first elaborate upon inclusive neutrality by formulating two supplementary interpretations: proportional neutrality and compensatory neutrality. Second, we will argue that inclusive proportional neutrality is the most appropriate interpretation in many contexts. Our discussion highlights the fact 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.

Suggested Citation

Pierik, Roland and van der Burg, Wibren, What is Neutrality? (December 2014). Ratio Juris, Vol. 27, Issue 4, pp. 496-515, 2014, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2531503 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/raju.12057

Roland Pierik (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Oudemanhuispoort 4-6
Amsterdam, 1012 CN

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

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

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