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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 27, Issue 1, 2017

Values and Ideals. Theory and Practice: Part II

Michal Sládeček
Pages 123-134

Can Justice Be Really Ethically Neutral?
Barry on Impartiality and Perfectionism

In the first part of the article author discusses some objections to Brian Barry’s interpretation of justice as impartiality, in particular those regarding freestanding position of principles of justice. In the second part author offers his own critique of Barry’s conception, according to which Barry does not distinguished two senses of impartiality adequately, conflating impartiality as non-discrimination and equal opportunity with impartiality as neutrality between conceptions of the good. Impartiality as the equal treatment of persons regardless of their characteristics or belonging to groups is compatible with neutrality in the sense of equal respect and acknowledgement of the right of persons to form and pursue their own conceptions of the good. However, it is also compatible with non-neutrality as the unequal treatment of conceptions of the good, insofar as some of them are unreasonable, that is, only reasonable conceptions are considered as relevant in public deliberation.