More than thirty years ago, one of the most influential liberal proponents of the neutral state specifically identified state-supported culture as inimical to this neutrality. In A Theory of Justice, John Rawls recognized that “there are standards in the arts and sciences for appraising creative efforts” and that “[c]omparisons of intrinsic value can obviously be made.” But support of the intrinsically best was not the work of Rawls’ liberal state (the scheme he called “justice as fairness”):

While justice as fairness allows that in a well-ordered society the values of excellence are recognized, the human perfections are to be pursued within the limits of the principle of free association. Persons join together to further their cultural and artistic interests in the same way that they form religious communities. They do not use the coercive apparatus of the state to win for themselves a greater liberty or larger distributive shares on the grounds that their activities are of more intrinsic value. Perfectionism is denied as a political principle. Thus the social resources necessary to support associations dedicated to advancing the arts and sciences and culture generally are to be won as a fair return for services rendered, or from such voluntary contributions as citizens wish to make.1

State-sponsored culture is equivalent to state-sponsored religion and should thus be proscribed by neutral liberalism.


Experiential Pedagogy Perfectionist State Civic Virtue Didactic Pedagogy Artistic Interest 
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© Daniel S. Malachuk 2005

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  • Daniel S. Malachuk

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