Understanding Religion, Governing Religion: A Realist Perspective

C. Laborde & A. Bardon, eds, Religion in Liberal Political Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

13 Pages Posted: 18 May 2016

Date Written: May 16, 2016

Abstract

Cécile Laborde has argued that the freedom we think of as ‘freedom of religion’ should be understood as a bundle of separate and relatively independent freedoms. I criticise that approach by pointing out that it is insufficiently sensitive to facts about the sorts of entities that liberal states are. I argue that states have good reasons to mould phenomena such as religion into easily governable monoliths. If this is a problem from the normative point of view, it is not due to descriptively inadequate accounts of religion, but a problem with a lack of realism about the sort of institutions states are. My conclusion is a three-way disjunction: either one must reckon with liberal states’ historically determined limitations in the management of changing social phenomena, or one should direct one’s frustration at the marriage of liberalism and the state, or the very existence of states is normatively problematic.

Keywords: freedom of religion, political realism, state simplifications, religion and politics, religion and liberalism, disaggregation approach

Suggested Citation

Rossi, Enzo, Understanding Religion, Governing Religion: A Realist Perspective (May 16, 2016). C. Laborde & A. Bardon, eds, Religion in Liberal Political Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2780679

Enzo Rossi (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Department of Political Science
Oudezijds Achterburgwal 237
Amsterdam, 1012 DL
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://uva.academia.edu/EnzoRossi

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