Modern liberal theories share the idea that the state and its laws should remain neutral with respect to the varying conceptions of the good life held by individuals. This article discusses the way in which this notion of neutrality is defined and justified. Rawls's theory of justice is shown to be a prime example of such a theory. Questions are raised, however, if Rawls's theory has adequately formulated the conditions that would make it possible for each citizen to fulfill his own conception of the good. After arguing that Dworkin's solution to this problem is also problematic, it is argued that Sen's solution to the question of what conditions create neutrality shows the way ahead.

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Social Justice Research
Department of Public Administration

Lehning, P. (1990). Liberalism and capabilities: Theories of justice and the neutral state. Social Justice Research, 4(3), 187–213. doi:10.1007/BF01048397