Disaggregating a Paradox? Faith, Justice and Liberalism’s Religion

Biblioteca Della Libertà 56 (232):53-82 (2021)
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Abstract

Being robustly committed to state neutrality which does not permit the promotion of liberal-perfectionist ideals and denying that there is anything normatively relevant or ‘special’ about religion leaves liberal-egalitarians embroiled in a paradox. If religion is not special, how and why do liberal states afford it differential treatment (in comparison with non-religious analogues like secular doctrines or deeply-held beliefs of individual conscience)? This paper explores liberal-egalitarian strategies for resolving this paradox with predominant reference to the disaggregation strategy advanced by Cécile Laborde. After discussing the novelty and advantages of disaggregation relative to other liberal-egalitarian strategies, the paper distinguishes between the coverage and the basis in justification of differential treatment to argue that disaggregation does not ultimately succeed in solving the latter. Despite this, reflecting on the clarifications achieved through disaggregation and the deeper issues of justification and justice emerging therefrom, the paper concludes by proposing the need to consider a lateral solution to the paradox and speculating on what this might look like.

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Kim Leontiev
University College London

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