The first shoots of what we now understand as liberal political philosophy appeared in Renaissance and Reformation Europe, finding early expression in the English philosophers Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, and coming to full flower two to three centuries later in the writings of Immanuel Kant, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Benjamin Constant, Wilhelm von Humboldt and John Stuart Mill.1 Then followed a period of decline, in which liberal theorising was eclipsed, to some extent, by the vigorous growth of Marxism, Fascism, and various forms of anti-colonialism in the first three-quarters of the twentieth century. But, as is now frequently remarked upon, liberalism was revived with the publication, in 1971, of John Rawls’s A theory of justice,2 in response to which an avalanche of scholarship was produced.3

A theory of justice took itself to be building on the “social contract” tradition, an important stream within European liberalism which represented political morality as constructed (in different ways by different theorists) by an agreement between free and equal citizens.4 The book directed much of its fire against the ethical tradition that was, until a generation ago, held to be the most promising philosophical basis for liberal politics: utilitarianism, the doctrine of the greatest happiness for the greatest number. “Intuitionism,” by which Rawls meant the adherence to a set of unstructured ethical principles, and what he called “the principle of perfection,” were also sharply criticised, but at considerably less length.5 At least partially as a result of the book’s influence, utilitarianism has faded as an intellectual force, but, ironically, the principle of perfection, now usually referred to as “perfectionism,” has found more defenders as a result of Rawls’s challenge.

Perfectionism endorses the claim that the state may legitimately promote (primarily by means of legislation, it is envisaged) certain human virtues or “excellences” or, to use the phrases most commonly used in the contemporary debate, “conceptions of the good,” by which is meant, roughly, the moral, philosophical, or religious views held by citizens.6 To this Rawls did not explicitly oppose a doctrine of “state neutrality.” In fact the term “neutrality” does not rate a mention in the index of A theory of justice, and Political liberalism 7, his second major work, merely includes a brief discussion of the term in which it is described as “unfortunate,” on the grounds that ‘some of its connotations are highly misleading,’ and that ‘others suggest altogether impracticable principles.’8 His opposition to perfectionism, however, and his adherence to the doctrine which has subsequently come to be called “liberal neutrality” was unmistakable.9


Liberal neutrality, or “the principle of state neutrality,” as I will refer to it, is the doctrine that the state may not take sides between the conflicting conceptions of the good life adhered to by citizens. Briefly put, it follows from the fact that, in A theory of justice, parties to a fair contract for the purpose of designing the social order must come to an agreement in ignorance of their race, sex, positions in society, as well as their conceptions of the good. The principles of justice which emerge from contracting parties so situated – two principles which, taken together, Rawls names justice as fairness – can therefore endorse no claims to greater entitlements on the basis of superior race, sex, social position or conception of the good. As a result they are neutral between these potential sources of bias, as is any legislation which conforms to them.

A theory of justice was followed shortly afterwards by another landmark in the history of liberal political theory: the publication of Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, state and utopia, in which the author explicitly argued that a legitimate ‘state or government…must be neutral…between its citizens.’10 Four years later Ronald Dworkin, who has subsequently come to be regarded as the second great figure in post-war liberal philosophy (after Rawls) published an essay entitled simply ‘Liberalism,’11 in which he argued that ‘political decisions must be, so far as is possible, independent of any particular conception of the good life, or of what gives value to life.’12 This is a theme to which Dworkin has repeatedly returned,13 and in taking an interest in which he has been far from alone.14

In fact Dworkin has not merely defended the doctrine of state neutrality. He has also described it, at one point, as ‘a fundamental, almost defining, tenet of liberalism,’15 and in this he was echoed by Bruce Ackerman, who remarks in Social justice in the liberal state that “constrained conversation” – his version of the neutrality principle – is ‘the organising principle of liberal thought,’ and that the liberal tradition is ‘best understood as…an effort to define and justify broad constraints on power talk.’16 Similarly, Charles Larmore, whose 1987 book Patterns of moral complexity 17 influenced Rawls’s later writings, has claimed that ‘the fundamental liberal principle is that the state should remain neutral toward disputed and controversial ideals of the good life’18 and that ‘the distinctive liberal notion is that of the neutrality of the state’19 and even Joseph Raz, an avowed enemy of anti-perfectionism, comments that ‘when anti-perfectionist principles are used to provide the foundation of a political theory they can be regarded as attempts to capture the core sense of the liberal ethos.’20


Clearly, if neutrality is the distinctive liberal notion, then we might associate perfectionism with illiberal politics. And history gives us good reason to do so. But, of course, the fact that all anti-liberals have also been perfectionists does not imply that all perfectionists are anti-liberals. And, as one might expect, claims by prominent theorists about the alleged centrality of the principle of state neutrality to the liberal project provoked liberals who did not reject perfectionism to show their hands.

Briefly put, liberal perfectionists argue that liberalism is not a doctrine of limited government, but rather, as Raz puts it, ‘a doctrine about political morality which revolves around the importance of personal liberty.’21 Thomas Hurka, who offers what is perhaps the most detailed contemporary defence of a perfectionist ethic,22 argues that perfectionism can value liberty by making the free choice of one’s form of life itself an objective good. Liberty, or personal autonomy, is understood by such liberals as a virtue or excellence which the state is obliged to promote. And this obligation cannot be understood as the principle of neutrality.

The first book-length liberal perfectionist response to liberal neutralism was Vinit Haksar’s Equality, liberty, and perfectionism, which appeared in 1979. As he indicates in the introduction to the book, Haksar sets out to refute the Rawlsian position ‘that perfectionism can and should be bypassed as a political principle,’23 devoting two chapters to detailed exegesis and criticism of the positions advanced in A theory of justice. Haksar’s book did not receive the publicity it deserved, and liberal perfectionism had to wait for the publication, in 1986, of Raz’s The morality of freedom before it was able to take centre stage. A theory of justice also looms large in Raz’s book, being described in it as ‘[t]he most serious attempt to specify and defend a doctrine…of… neutrality,’24 and as such is the principal focus of critical attention for Raz. Even the work of more recent liberal perfectionists, such as Hurka’s Perfectionism (1993),George Sher’s Beyond neutrality (1997), and Steven Wall’s Liberalism, perfectionism, and restraint (1998),all written more than twenty years after A theory of justice, devote considerable space and effort to responding to the anti-perfectionism articulated and developed by Rawls, ensuring that assessing the competing attractions of neutralism and perfectionism has become one of the central concerns of contemporary liberals.


Perfectionism is the idea that the state may take sides in the conflict between the various moral, philosophical and religious ideals held by citizens, promoting some and discouraging others. This should not be understood as being equivalent to the idea that the state should take sides in the inevitable conflicts of interests between citizens (unless one holds the implausible view that citizens’ identities are exhausted by their ideals). Nor should it be understood as the idea that state neutrality between the various ideals is always illegitimate, as there are many cases in which there are good reasons for it which have nothing to do with a general principle of neutrality; if, for example, there is nothing to choose between two ideals (and there is no imperative that one be chosen), or also, perhaps, where taking sides would be the cause of major strife and remaining neutral would not have comparably undesirable consequences.

What remains unclear, however, is whether saying that the state should promote ideals of the good means that it should do so whenever it can, and also whether it should do so to the greatest extent possible. These are similar issues, in that they both go to the question of how stringent the perfectionist requirement that the state promote the good is. It seems obvious, at least prima facie, that if the state is capable of promoting the good, then there is no excuse for it not doing so. But even perfectionists might accept that the state has certain obligations which forbid it from promoting the good under certain circumstances. A perfectionist might accept, for example, that citizens have a right to autonomy. The state’s obligation to recognise this right would obviously place obstacles in the way of its promoting the good. And the greater the number and/or stringency of such obligations recognised by the perfectionist, the greater the likelihood that the politics he or she advocates comes to resemble that of the neutralist. There is nothing incoherent, however, in a perfectionism which recognises even a great number of important right-based constraints on the state’s promotion of the good. To remain perfectionist one must merely deny that the state may never promote the good.

So contemporary perfectionists think the state should take sides between ideals. How do they make their case? Firstly, as we have already noted, a great deal of effort is expended in attempting to debunk the case for state neutrality. Raz, for example, devotes two chapters of The morality of freedom 25 to this, Sher no less than four of his Beyond neutrality,26 and a similar pattern is noticeable in the writings of Haksar27 and Wall.28


There is good reason for proceeding this way. This is because it is uncontroversial that one ought to pursue that which is good. And it is therefore also uncontroversial that the state should promote the good, unless, of course, there are weightier reasons not to. Now the principle of state neutrality purports to offer precisely such reasons. It is, as Raz says, a principle of restraint. It ‘den[ies] the government’s right to pursue certain valuable goals, or require[s] it to maintain undisturbed a certain state of affairs, even though it could, if it were to try, improve it.’29 So the dispute between perfectionists and neutralists turns on whether or not there are reasons (and, if so, what they are) for the state to refrain from pursuing the good when it can. Neutralists claim that there are always such reasons (although the exact reasons offered differ from one writer to another). Showing that these alleged reasons do not hold, as arguments such as those of Raz and Sher attempt to do, leaves the way clear for an acceptance of the standard perfectionist view of the state: that it has a duty to improve the lives of citizens, or, to put it another way, a duty to promote the good.

We must note that these attacks on neutrality do not mean the abandonment of liberalism, and that they most emphatically do not mean abandoning a commitment to the value of personal autonomy. In fact, as we shall see in chapter three, Raz argues that state neutrality between ideals of the good runs the risk of diminishing the autonomy of citizens. It makes it more difficult for citizens to lead good lives, in that many of the valuable forms of life which citizens might choose cannot be pursued as individuals, and require state support for their continued existence. The demise of these forms of life would result in a restricted palette of opportunities, leaving many citizens without sufficient valuable options for them to be able to make genuinely autonomous choices. Succinctly put, neutrality undermines autonomy. And, if this is indeed so, liberals have another reason for adopting the perfectionist view of politics.

Having acquired some sense of what it means for a state to take sides between ideals, I now turn to its opposite, neutrality, and make a few clarificatory remarks about what neutralists expect from the state.


The concept of neutrality is frequently associated with (and sometimes confused with) related concepts such as justice, fairness, and impartiality, although it is not to be equated with these. It presupposes, as Jeremy Waldron points out, a contest or conflict of some kind, and is predicated of the actions of parties not directly involved in the conflict.30 Furthermore, the idea is “most at home” in the context of international relations, particularly during times of war.31 So, for example, we would say that Sweden was neutral during the Second World War, on the grounds that no military units acting on behalf of the Swedish nation intervened in order to influence the outcome of the war.32

More precisely, taking a stance of neutrality is, following Alan Montefiore, ‘to do one’s best to help or to hinder the various parties concerned in an equal degree.’33 This, according to Raz, is the ‘primary sense of neutrality.’34 Raz goes on to say that one is neutral in the primary sense ‘only if one can affect the fortunes of the parties and if one helps or hinders them to an equal degree and one does so because one believes that there are reasons for so acting which essentially depend on the fact that the action has an equal effect on the fortunes of the parties.’35

Following Raz, then, we should say that being neutral in this sense requires, firstly, at least the possibility of affecting the outcome of the conflict: one might, if one so chose, be able to help or hinder one of the parties. A party which can have no influence on the outcome, whatever it does, is not neutral in the primary sense. And secondly, neutrality in Raz’s primary sense is not accidental. It is the outcome of a decision grounded in reasons for refraining from helping or hindering the parties unequally.36


We should note therefore that there are not always reasons for being neutral, simply because neutrality is not always (or even prima facie) desirable. It might signify indifference to that which ought to arouse partisan passions, and it can be the occasion of regret.37 Even neutrality in times of war is not necessarily to be approved of: while many may think that Sweden’s wartime neutrality was understandable, few found it admirable. So the advocate of neutrality must explain not only the context in which neutrality is to be endorsed, but also the reasons for which it is to be endorsed.

If we are to understand what reasons might be put forward in support of a policy of neutrality, we must move away from the idea of neutrality in general, and narrow our focus. This dissertation is concerned with state neutrality between conceptions of the good, which, following Raz, we will understand as the refusal on the part of the state to use its power to privilege or discriminate against any citizen on the basis of their adherence to a particular conception of the good life. It is neutrality in this context that I will now turn to focus on.

It is widely held that the populations of contemporary constitutional democracies are uniquely diverse. More specifically, the claim is that citizens of contemporary constitutional democracies adhere to a great variety of moral, philosophical, and religious views, and that this was not usually the case in these territories in earlier times.38


Rawls offers a typical historical narrative in his introduction to Political liberalism, where he says, in the course of outlining the trajectory of liberalism and its precursors over the past three or four centuries, that the Reformation ‘fragmented the religious unity of the Middle Ages and led to religious pluralism, with all its consequences for later centuries. This in turn fostered pluralisms of other kinds, which were a permanent feature of culture by the end of the eighteenth century.’39

Furthermore, many liberals have held that contemporary social heterogeneity calls forth the idea of state neutrality. Larmore, for example, contends that ‘[i]n modern times we have come to recognise a multiplicity of ways in which a fulfilled life can be lived, without any perceptible hierarchy among them. And we have also been forced to acknowledge that even where we do believe that we have discerned the superiority of some ways of life to others, reasonable people may often not share our view.’40 He goes on to say that ‘pluralism and disagreement about the good life…make political neutrality reasonable’41 and mounts a defence, which we will examine in chapter two, of state neutrality which he takes to be the most appropriate response to the pluralism we encounter in modern constitutional democracies.

There are of course dissenters from the view that past societies were largely homogenous.42 There is reason to think that many past societies, including those which later developed into liberal societies, exhibited as great an ethnic and religious diversity as contemporary democracies (if not greater). And there is also reason to think that, at least in some cases, past societies managed such diversity without either requiring neutrality of their states or dissolving in ethnic and religious bloodshed.


But there is little doubt that contemporary constitutional democracies are very morally, philosophically, and religiously diverse. And there is also little doubt that the history of political philosophy in the West reveals an increasing concern with impartiality, and an increasing opposition to what we now understand as discrimination, whether accompanied by an increase in social heterogeneity or not.

It might be most accurate to understand this development as a concern with stability. The insistence on a state religion, especially where adherents of competing religions are of roughly equal strength, has often seemed to be a catalyst for instability and civil strife: the bloody wars of the seventeenth century in what is now Germany were a particularly ugly example. So there are good pragmatic reasons for responding to diversity with impartiality, and this was well understood by early modern writers such as Locke,43 who proposed “toleration” as a means of damping potential religious conflict and winning the co-operation of a diverse populace. And once the idea of toleration gained momentum in Europe, it seemed there was no stopping it. By the eighteenth century the public position of European monarchs such as Frederick the Great of Prussia was that citizens were free to adhere to whatever “metaphysical fictions” they wished to44 and by the end of the nineteenth, dissent from the Christian tradition was no longer an impediment to advancement in Europe. The sectarian character of European states faded into ever more insipid forms of civil religion.

It is of course also the case that twentieth-century European history did not evince much in the way of stability, despite religious toleration. This does not prove, of course, that things would not have been even worse had religious toleration not become an accepted principle. But it ought to lead us to note that a concern with stability is not the only possible motivation for requiring states to hold back from supporting (or being supported by) partisan conceptions of the good life. And if we look at the development of opposition to discrimination in the political philosophy of the West, we see that it is as much grounded in an ideal of equal treatment as it is in a pragmatic concern with avoiding strife.


This ideal emphasised the necessity of treating the social standing or religion of a citizen, and, with time, his or her race, gender, or sexual orientation, as irrelevant in the distribution of the burdens and privileges of living in a democratic society. And, as we see in the later work of Rawls,45 it also emphasised the moral unacceptability of requiring some citizens, but not others, to live by principles they did not share and had no part in formulating.

Again, we must be careful. A thorough historical study of the rise of the ideal of equal treatment (which this dissertation does not attempt to be) would undoubtedly find traces, or precursors, of it in many pre-modern eras (not to mention in non-Western cultures). One has merely to think of the golden rule of Jesus Christ in order to summon a similar norm of great antiquity and long-lasting influence. But the loosening of the bonds of aristocratic and clerical power in the early modern period in Europe did see the ideal of equal treatment clearly and forcefully articulated, notably by Kant and Rousseau, and also by the signatories of the Declaration of the Rights of Man. And the principle of state neutrality appears to many to fall naturally into this tradition. It appeals to our sense that a state which treats its citizens differentially, as, it seems, it must do, if it advances certain conceptions of the good life and not others, is perpetrating precisely the kind of injustice which our culture has come to abhor, regardless of whether or not those against whom it discriminates are able to destabilise the society.

In what follows we will look at both pragmatic arguments for state neutrality, as well as appeals to the ideal of equal treatment, and assess their appropriateness as responses to what we might call “the circumstances of diversity”. It will be my contention that, while understandable, the demand that the state be neutral is misguided. In order to establish this, I examine, in chapter one, the various formulations the principle of state neutrality has taken, in chapter two, the main arguments for the principle, and, in chapter three, I examine, in particular, Joseph Raz’s liberal case for the acceptability of perfectionist legislation, even in the circumstances of diversity. I conclude that, given the failure of the arguments for the principle of state neutrality, a modified version of Raz’s perfectionism is the most acceptable liberal political morality.



Fußnoten und Endnoten

1  The classic texts in this story include Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1982), John Locke’s Two treatises of government as well as his Letter concerning toleration, published together by Yale University Press in 2003, Immanuel Kant’s Groundwork of the metaphysics of morals (tr HJ Paton) (New York: Harper, 1964), The m etaphysics of morals (tr Mary Gregor) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996) and “Perpetual peace: A philosophical sketch,” in Immanuel Kant, Political writings (tr HB Nisbet) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s The social contract and other later political writings (tr Victor Gourevitch) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), Wilhelm von Humboldt’s On the limits of state action (tr JW Burrow) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1969) and John Stuart Mill’s On liberty (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1956). Benjamin Constant’s writings are usefully collected in the volume of his Political writings (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), which forms part of the Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought series, and John Gray’s Liberalism (2ed) (Buckingham: Open University Press, 1995) opens with a useful history of the development of liberal political philosophy.

2  John Rawls, A theory of justice (Revised edition) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999). First edition published in 1971.

3  The volume of writing on Rawls is discussed in the introductions to the volumes Reading Rawls, edited by Norman Daniels (Oxford: Blackwell, 1975) and The Cambridge Companion to Rawls, edited by Samuel Freeman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

4  Rawls famously states on page xviii of the preface to A theory of justice (Revised edition) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999) that he has attempted ‘to generalise and carry to a higher order of abstraction the traditional theory of the social contract as represented by Locke, Rousseau, and Kant.’ Later on in the same passage he comments that ‘[t]he theory that results is highly Kantian in nature,’ disclaiming any originality for his views, which he describes as ‘classical and well known.’

5  On page 46 of the revised edition of A theory of justice (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), Rawls remarks that ‘no constructive alternative theory [to utilitarianism] has been advanced which has the comparable virtues of clarity and system…Intuitionism is not constructive, perfectionism is unacceptable.’ Later on – in section 50 of A theory of justice – Rawls devotes a little more attention to refuting perfectionism, but at nothing like the length at which he attacks utilitarianism.

6  I examine exactly what these conceptions of the good life might be in greater detail in the introductory section of chapter one.

7  (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993)

8  Political liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), p. 191.

9  This is made explicit in §50 of A theory of justice (Revised edition) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 285-92.

10  Robert Nozick, Anarchy, state, and utopia (New York: Basic Books, 1974), p. 33.

11  Ronald Dworkin, “Liberalism,” in A matter of principle (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1985), pp. 181-204.

12  Ronald Dworkin, “Liberalism,” in A matter of principle (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1985), p. 191.

13  See also his “Foundations of liberal equality” in Stephen Darwall, (ed) Equal freedom: Selected Tanner Lectures on human values (Ann Arbor: Michigan University Press, 1995), pp. 190-306, where he writes, on page 191, that It is a fundamental, almost defining, tenet of liberalism that the government of a political community should be tolerant of the different and often antagonistic convictions its citizens have about the right way to live: that it should be neutral, for example, between citizens who insist that a good life is necessarily a religious one and other citizens who fear religion as the only dangerous superstition.

14  See Bruce Ackerman, who says that ‘[a] power structure is illegitimate if it can be justified only through a conversation in which some person (or group) must assert that he is (or they are) the privileged moral authority.’ Social justice in the liberal state (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980), pp. 10-1.

15  Ronald Dworkin “Foundations of liberal equality” in Stephen Darwall, (ed) Equal freedom (Ann Arbor:, University of Michigan Press, 1995), p.191.

16  Bruce Ackerman, Social justice in the liberal state (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980), p.10.

17  (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987).

18  Patterns of moral complexity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), p. ix

19  Patterns of moral complexity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), p. 42

20  Joseph Raz, The morality of freedom (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), p. 108

21  Joseph Raz, The morality of freedom (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), p.17.

22  As opposed to a perfectionist liberal politics, the defence of which has been undertaken in the most detail by Raz, as we shall see. Furthermore, it is fair to say that Sher has offered a detailed defence of a perfectionist ethic which is in many ways as impressive as that of Hurka. I will come to discuss Sher as well in what follows.

23  Vinit Haksar, Equality, liberty, and perfectionism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979), p. 1.

24  Joseph Raz, The morality of freedom (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), p. 117. On page 122 Raz distinguishes between comprehensive neutrality which, as he puts it, ‘consists in helping or hindering the parties in equal degree in all matters relevant to the conflict between them’ and narrow neutrality, which he takes to consist in ‘helping or hindering them to an equal degree in those activities and regarding those resources that they would wish neither to engage in nor to acquire but for the conflict.’

25  (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986)

26  (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997)

27  Vinit Haksar, Equality, liberty, and perfectionism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979)

28  Steven Wall Liberalism, perfectionism, and restraint (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998)

29  Joseph Raz, The morality of freedom (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), p. 110

30  Jeremy Waldron, “Legislation and moral neutrality,” in Robert Goodin and Andrew Reeve, (eds) Liberal Neutrality (London: Routledge, 1989), pp. 61-83 at p. 44.

31  Jeremy Waldron, “Legislation and moral neutrality,” in Robert Goodin and Andrew Reeve, (eds) Liberal Neutrality (London: Routledge, 1989), pp. 61-83 at p. 66.

32  Swedes certainly volunteered for combat in their personal capacities, on both sides of the conflict, and were therefore absorbed into both Allied and Axis military units. It is conceivable, in conflict situations, that voluntary participation could reach a level (and partisanship) sufficient for it to be no longer plausible to assert that the country of which such volunteers are citizens is neutral. The participation of Swedes in World War II does not appear to have reached this level, however.

33  Alan Montefiore in the book he edited, Neutrality and impartiality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975), p. 5.

34  Joseph Raz, The morality of freedom (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), p. 113.

35  Joseph Raz, The morality of freedom (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), p. 113.

36  Raz notes that there is a further, secondary, sense, in which may one be neutral without intending so to be. See The morality of freedom (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), p. 113.

37  See Thomas Hardy’s poem ‘Neutral tones’ in Paul Keegan (ed) The New Penguin Book of English Verse (London: Penguin, 2000), p. 823.

38  What we are to say in this regard about contemporary societies which are not, strictly speaking, constitutional democracies in the style of West, is a tricky question. Some appear to be relatively homogenous: China would be such an example, at least if we think of ethnic homogeneity. Others appear to be rather diverse (although powerful ethnic or religious factions within them have generally not adopted anything like the principle of state neutrality in the face of diversity).

39  John Rawls, Political liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), p. xxiv.

40  Charles Larmore, Patterns of moral complexity, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), p. 43.

41  Charles Larmore, Patterns of moral complexity, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), pp. 50-1.

42  See, for example, Derek Phillips’s Looking backward  (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), for an account of the diversity of past societies often taken to have been examples of social unity.

43  See his “A letter concerning toleration” in T wo treatise s of government and A letter concerning toleration (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), which had great influence on the American founding fathers.

44  In Frederick’s case this does not seem to have been because of any aversion to violent conflict, however.

45  Especially Political liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993).

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