Political neutrality and the argument from personal autonomy
Bifulco, Robert, Jr
Master of Arts
One argument for political neutrality appeals to the value of autonomy. I consider three objections to this argument. First, it appears that this argument is self-defeating in drawing from a controversial conception of the good life. If we distinguish between theoretical and practical levels of political reasoning, however, the initial appearance of paradox disappears. Second, it is unclear whether autonomy plays an essential enough role in the good life to justify making it the goal of the state. Via, an expliction of Joseph Raz's work, I develop a sense in which it is plausible to say that autonomy is essential to the good life in some societies, and that the governments of such societies should pursue the conditions of autonomy. Third, it is unclear whether political neutrality is the best means of securing autonomy. I suggest a reason for believing that it is that draws on a connection between neutrality and the type of culture conducive to personal autonomy.
Philosophy; Political science