Journal of Moral Philosophy 1 (3):293-309 (2004)

Authors
Elizabeth Brake
Rice University
Abstract
the issue of liberal neutrality, a topic suggested by the work of Catharine MacKinnon. I discuss two kinds of neutrality: neutrality at the level of justifying liberalism itself, and state neutrality in political decision-making. Both kinds are contentious within liberal theory. Rawls’s argument for justice as fairness has been criticized for non-neutrality at the justificatory level, a problem noted by Rawls himself in Political Liberalism . I will defend a qualified account of neutrality at the justificatory level, taking an epistemic approach to argue for the exclusion of certain doctrines from the justificatory process. I then argue that the justification process I describe offers a justificatory stance supportive of the feminist rejection of state-sponsored gender hierarchy. Further, I argue that liberal neutrality at the level of political decision-making will have surprising implications for gender equality. Once the extent of the state’s involvement in the apparently private spheres of family and civil society is recognized, and the disproportionate influence of a sexist conception of the good on those structures—and concomitant promotion of that ideal—is seen, state neutrality implies substantive change. While—as Susan Moller Okin avowed—Rawls himself may have remained ambiguous on how to address gender inequality, his theory implies that the state must seek to create substantive, not merely formal, equality. I suggest that those substantive changes will not conflict with liberal neutrality but instead be required by it.
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DOI 10.1177/174046810400100305
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References found in this work BETA

The Ethics of Belief.William Clifford - 1879 - In Brian Davies (ed.), Philosophy of Religion: A Guide and Anthology. Oxford University Press.
Non-Contractual Society: A Feminist View.Virginia Held - 1987 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 17 (sup1):111-137.
Monogamy: A Critique.John McMurtry - 1972 - The Monist 56 (4):587-599.

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Citations of this work BETA

Liberal Feminism.Amy Baehr - 2013 - In Edward Zalta (ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. pp. 150-166.
Vereinbarkeit zwischen Erwerbsarbeit und Familienleben: Eine Frage der Gerechtigkeit.Sabine Hohl - 2015 - Zeitschrift Für Praktische Philosophie 2 (2):311-338.

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