Constitutionalizing Social Values
RJLipkin at aol.com
RJLipkin at aol.com
Thu Feb 26 13:46:16 PST 2004
Michael writes: '"secularist liberalism can and does (whether in the mainstream of liberalism or at its extreme) function in a rights stripping manner that is intolerant of all religious and comprehensive views other than its own"'
I think Michael and I are at cross purposes. In a micro-sense of liberalism, permitting vouchers or prayer in school, liberalism might be charaacterized as reducing rights of some, but only if these rights are compatible with tolerance. More importantly, my remark, which I can't see as contested (though I might, of course, be wrong) insists that the best statement of liberalism is more tolerant of such alternative religious and secular views as Communism, Facism, Talibanism, Saudi Arabian Islam, and a host of other secular and religious views which do not even tolerate the privatization of religious and other comprehensive views. Now Michael might legitmately argue that the privatization of relgious and secular views is a dimunition in freedom or rights. Maybe so. But most liberalism at least permit such privatization. Many other religious and secular views do not even go this far.
In summary, on a micro-level of analysis,liberalism can be viewed as stripping away particular rights. However, on a macro-level of analysis, standing back and comparing comprehensive views holistically, I find it diffcult to see how it can be denied that liberalism, at least under the best statement of liberalism, permits more comprehensive moral environments than non-liberal views. Liberalism is committed to tolerance, however often liberals might fail to live up to their creed. But to say liberalism is tolerant only of its own views is the antithesis of any moderately coherent liberal perspective.
Robert Justin Lipkin
Professor of Law
Widener University School of Law
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