Citizenship Beyond Liberal Neutrality

Title: Citizenship Beyond Liberal Neutrality
Authors: Curry, Paul F.
Date: 2013
Abstract: The liberal tradition has borne great fruits since the dawn of the modern era by emphasizing the value of equality and personal liberty, and by developing a theory of rights. Despite its incredible success, many authors have been pointing to fissures in the liberal structure, including practical and theoretical problems with state neutrality, with the state’s stance vis-à-vis different cultures, and with liberalism’s purported radical individualism. It is my belief that the gains of liberalism can be reconciled within a new theory that better answers to such critiques. Citizenship Beyond Liberal Neutrality begins with an analysis of contemporary debate between liberalism and its critics. This leads to a discussion of the state’s relationship toward cultural identities, and to a discussion of the meaning of citizenship within a liberal-democratic state. What we need, I argue, is a civic identity that is both capable of judging cultural practices, and capacious enough for a citizenry characterized by reasonable pluralism. This common identity, moreover, provides a locus for attachment that is often found wanting in contemporary liberal theory. I draw on relevant insights from virtue theories, constitutional patriotism, and an ‘analogical’ understanding of public reason to inform a new, liberal-like conception of citizenship. In order to exemplify this conception, and to bolster the case for it, I consider how such a philosophy could play out with respect to two public policy areas that are central to citizenship, namely education and immigration. Distilled to its simplest, I argue for a theory of citizenship that admits a conception of the good, that can promote virtue while respecting autonomy, and that can provide a basis for civic unity.
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