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Religion in Liberal Political Philosophy$
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Cécile Laborde and Aurélia Bardon

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198794394

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198794394.001.0001

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Understanding Religion, Governing Religion

Understanding Religion, Governing Religion

A Realist Perspective

(p.55) 4 Understanding Religion, Governing Religion
Religion in Liberal Political Philosophy

Enzo Rossi

Oxford University Press

Cécile Laborde has argued that the freedom we think of as ‘freedom of religion’ should be understood as a bundle of separate and relatively independent freedoms. This chapter criticizes that approach by pointing out that it is insufficiently sensitive to facts about the sorts of entities that liberal states are. It argues that states have good reasons to mould phenomena such as religion into easily governable monoliths. If this is a problem from the normative point of view, it is not due to descriptively inadequate accounts of religion, but a problem with a lack of realism about the sort of institutions states are. The chapter’s conclusion is a three-way disjunction: either one must reckon with liberal states’ historically determined limitations in the management of changing social phenomena, or one should direct one’s frustration at the marriage of liberalism and the state, or the very existence of states is normatively problematic.

Keywords:   religious freedom, religion, political realism, disaggregation approach, state simplifications

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