New paper by Richard Arneson on political liberalism and religion:
"Political Liberalism, Religious Liberty, and Religious Establishment"
[Forthcoming in Hanoch Dagan, Shahar Lifshitz, & Yedidia Z. Stern (eds.) - "The Role of Religion in Human Rights Discourse"].
What stance toward religion does a just state maintain? This essay outlines and defends an answer to this question that is associated with the slogan calling for the separation of church and state. The defense consists of knocking down bad defenses and merely gesturing toward a better one. But even if this hint of a defense can be successfully developed, it will only go so far. Toward the end of the essay, an objection is raised that is not susceptible to decisive refutation and that can be properly engaged only by case by case adjudication seeking best policies for current actual circumstances. The issue in play here arises from the consideration that, despite the fact that it would be morally desirable to achieve a certain goal, it does not follow that any attempted movement toward achieving that goal would be morally desirable in any and all circumstances.
Richard Arneson is Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego.