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Croatian Journal of Philosophy

Volume 10, Issue 2, 2010

Noriaki Iwasa
Pages 147-155

The Impossibility of Political Neutrality

For some contemporary liberal philosophers, a huge concern is liberal neutrality, which is the idea that the state should be neutral among competing conceptions of the moral good pursued by the people. In The Morality of Freedom, Joseph Raz argues that we can neither achieve nor even approximate such neutrality. He shows that neutrality and fairness are different ideas. His notion of neutrality is stricter than John Rawls’s and Ronald Dworkin’s. Raz shows that both helping and not helping can be neutral or non-neutral, thus neutrality is chimerical. Wojciech Sadurski’s appeal to rational expectations does not necessarily tell us which action is neutral. Distinguishing between comprehensive and narrow neutrality, Raz also claims that only the former is a proper response to conflicts. Sadurski criticizes it, claiming that conflicts are comprehensive in a sense which does not deny the adequacy of the narrow neutrality. In reality, however, it is almost impossible to achieve even the narrow neutrality. A theory is presented to explain why political neutrality is almost impossible to achieve. Philosophically, there is no neutral ground for neutral politics.

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