«In this chapter, I give an outline of the four approaches to citizenship: liberalism, communitarianism, neo-republicanism and liberal nationalism. ...»
4. POLITICAL PHILOSOPHICAL THEORIES ON CITIZENSHIP
In this chapter, I give an outline of the four approaches to citizenship:
liberalism, communitarianism, neo-republicanism and liberal nationalism.
These approaches have dominated contemporary debates in political philosophy
and are of central importance to my research. Only the main elements of the
philosophical theories will be dealt with. It is beyond the scope of this book to discuss the various permutations of the theories. As we will see, the four traditions encompass different approaches towards the notion of citizenship and prioritise different elements of the Big Five model of citizenship. As such, these theories also propose different interpretations of the relation between religion and citizenship.
4.1 The Liberal Focus on Law-abidingness and Tolerance My overview of the liberal interpretation of citizenship concentrates on John Rawls’s political theory and its implications for the public role of religion. I have decided to focus on Rawls’s interpretation of liberalism for several reasons. First of all, two of Rawls’s publications have marked the onset of debates that are central to this study. A Theory of Justice (1971) is generally perceived as the starting point of contemporary political philosophy, which has inspired a revival of debates over the notion of citizenship. Political Liberalism (1993) is the publication in which Rawls opened the political philosophical debates on the acceptance of religious expressions in the public domain to a large audience. With this book, Rawls became one of the first philosophers to connect the debate on citizenship to the debate on the public role of religion.
These two milestones make Rawls the key figure for researching the relation between religion and citizenship in contemporary political philosophy.
Secondly, although I am aware that Rawls presents a specific kind of social liberalism, not shared by all liberals,13 I do take him as a paradigmatic exponent of the liberal tradition, because, in the words of Mulhall and Swift, ‘Rawls’s theory contains both of the two components which standardly go together as the liberal package’ (1996, xvi). These components are the focus on freedom of the individual and the accompanying emphasis on civic liberties on the one hand, 13 Thomas Nagel, for instance, has pointed out that Rawls ‘has defended a distinctive, strongly egalitarian view that is at odds with many others in the liberal camp, although he sees it as following the basic ideas of liberalism to their logical conclusion’. (Nagel 2003, 63)
!30 PART ONE: PHILOSOPHICAL AND POLITICAL THINKING ON CITIZENSHIPand the focus on equality of opportunities for all citizens on the other. In the following paragraphs, I sketch a short overview of how Rawls presents his liberalism and how his liberalism relates to the Big Five model of citizenship.
In A Theory of Justice,Rawls presents his theory as an alternative to utilitarianism, which until then, dominated the Anglo-Saxon tradition of political thought (Kymlicka 2002, 10/53). Rawls refuses to accept the utilitarian consequence that individual rights sometimes have to be sacrificed for the maximisation of a collective social goal. Instead, he proposes to develop a general conception of justice, which would ensure freedom for and equality of all citizens. In order to do so, he builds on theories of the social contract as presented by Locke, Rousseau and Kant.
According to Rawls, a general conception of justice would reflect the guiding principles of a community, if people had to decide which principles should govern their community. The question is then, which principles are these? According to Rawls, the choice for these guiding principles cannot be made in our current position, because these choices would depend too much on individual and social circumstances. In order to construct a fair and stable society, all citizens have to embrace the general conception of justice, while differences between people should have a minimal impact. Therefore, Rawls develops the construction of a so-called original position, in which people stand
behind a ‘veil of ignorance’:
No one knows his place in society, his class position or social status, nor does any one know his fortune in the distribution of natural assets and abilities, his intelligence, strength, and the like. I shall even assume that the parties do not know their conceptions of the good or their special psychological propensities. The principles of justice are chosen behind a veil of ignorance. This ensures that no one is advantaged or disadvantaged in the choice of principles by the outcome of natural chance or the contingency of social circumstances. (Rawls 1971, 12) When placed in this position, people would choose for a general conception of justice that Rawls formulates as such: ‘All social primary goods — liberty and opportunity, income and wealth, and the bases of self-respect — are to be distributed equally unless an unequal distribution of any or all of these goods is to the advantage of the least favoured’ (Rawls 1971, 303).14 These primary goods are the goods that are important for everyone, regardless of their position or conception of the good. They reflect the needs of people qua citizens (Mulhall and Swift 1996, 206; Rawls 2005, 189 n. 20). The term ‘justice as 14This general principle of justice is further specified in two principles of justice that Rawls formulates as follows: ‘First: each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others. Second: social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both (a) reasonably expected to be to everyone's advantage, and (b) attached to positions and offices open to all’. (Rawls 1971, 61)
4. POLITICAL PHILOSOPHICAL THEORIES ON CITIZENSHIP !31fairness’ comes from this thought experiment: the principles of justice are fair because these are the principles chosen by people in the original position.
In Rawls’s theory, there is a priority of the right over the good, which assumes that conceptions of the good (that is, certain moral or religious beliefs) may be pursued only if they are compatible with the freestanding conception of justice. The priority of the right over the good is one of the cornerstones of liberal political theory and has been embraced by many liberal thinkers. As Dworkin wrote, ‘justice must be independent of any idea of human excellence or of the good life’ (1979, 48). This ideal of justice does not only concern individual citizens, but is also accompanied by an anti-perfectionist interpretation of the state. This anti-perfectionism proposes that the state should be neutral towards different conceptions of the good, because a neutral state best treats individuals as free and equal and as reasonable and rational (Caney 1995, 253). A neutral liberal state thus offers a framework in which citizens can pursue their own conceptions of the good (Kymlicka 1992, 34; Jones 1989, 9).
With this framework of liberal theory in mind, we now focus on the liberal interpretation of citizenship.
4.1.1 Liberal Elements of Citizenship As we have seen, freedom and equality are the key values in liberalism. John
Stuart Mill highlighted individual freedom and equality in his work, On Liberty:
The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental and spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.
(Mill 1859, ch. 1) Mill suggests that, in order to ensure freedom for all citizens, neither the state nor other citizens or specific communities within society are allowed to force their conceptions of the good upon individual citizens.
Based on this emphasis on individual freedom and equality, liberal theorists have argued for the importance of tolerance. Tolerance is an automatic consequence of a focus on freedom and equality. As the state needs to be neutral towards the comprehensive doctrines and accompanying conceptions of the good of its citizens, the state should tolerate different world views. The fact that tolerance is seen as a consequence rather than as a value in itself, is characteristic for liberalism and its focus on neutrality. While the task of being tolerant towards the conceptions of the good of individual citizens seems to be
!32 PART ONE: PHILOSOPHICAL AND POLITICAL THINKING ON CITIZENSHIPdirected mainly to the state in Rawlsian liberalism,15 Mill’s quotation makes clear that tolerance also applies to individual citizens and communities within society. Tolerance can thus be seen as an essential element of citizenship in the liberal tradition.
The second key element of citizenship that liberalism distinguishes is the element of law-abidingness. Just like tolerance, law-abidingness can also be regarded as an ‘instrumental’ liberal virtue, as Galston points out (1988, 1281– 1282). He argues that virtues can either be conceived as ends in themselves, or as means to achieve or maintain other virtues or Liberalism values. In liberalism, lawabidingness serves as a means to preserve the liberal society and liberal Social Engagement Political Engagement ideals; in order to ensure Law-Abdidingness freedom and equality, Tolerance citizens have basic rights, Shared Identity but also the obligation to abide by the law. The relation between the state and citizens is regarded as Figure 4.1 The liberal dimensions of citizenship a contract in which both sides have rights and obligations (Bauböck 2006; Janoski 1998). Since liberals value the individual freedom of citizens to live their lives according to their own principles of what a worthwhile life should be, liberals do not expect citizens to embrace the other dimensions of the Big Five model, as Figure 4.1 shows. These dimensions would form too much of an obligation and would deprive citizens of their individual freedom.
4.1.2 The Fact of Pluralism and the Issue of Religious Expressions The liberal focus on freedom for and equality of all citizens, and the instrumental virtues of tolerance and law-abidingness all suggest that liberalism and different religious doctrines can exist peacefully together. However, it turns out that Rawls’s liberalism is not as positive towards religion as it would seem at first.
In the years after the publication of A Theory of Justice, Rawls’s liberalism was heavily criticised from different angles. One of these criticisms made him aware that the conception of justice that he proposed could be interpreted as part 15 I am aware of the fact that in English – in contrast to the Dutch language — the distinction between ‘tolerance’ as a form of behaviour, and ‘toleration’ as a legal act of the government can be made (Habermas 2004, 5). Both elements are important in liberalism, but because this work concerns the normative aspect of citizenship, I will (mainly) focus on tolerance as a virtue of individual citizens.
4. POLITICAL PHILOSOPHICAL THEORIES ON CITIZENSHIP !33of a comprehensive liberalism, which ‘cover[ed] not only the political domain but also the domain of human conduct generally’ (Nussbaum 2011, 5). This was not his purpose. Rawls had intended to formulate a freestanding conception of justice (Rawls 1985, 223). Rawls was aware of the fact that modern Western democracies are ‘marked by irreducible and irreconcilable diversity of comprehensive (religious, philosophical, moral) doctrines’ (Schuster 2010, 13), and that equally reasonable citizens can thus have very different conceptions of the good (Landesman 2010, 177). Therefore, Rawls wanted his conception of justice to be independent of any specific comprehensive doctrine, so that it ‘may at least be supported by what we may call an “overlapping consensus”, that is, by a consensus that includes all the opposing philosophical and religious doctrines likely to persist and to gain adherents in a more or less just constitutional democracy’ (Rawls 1985, 225–226; Rawls 2005, IV §3). He thus reconfigured his liberalism in order to give recognition to ‘the fact of pluralism’.
In Political Liberalism (1993, exp. ed. 2005), Rawls argues that one can hold a liberal conception of people as citizens, in which people are seen as free and equal individuals, without subscribing to a comprehensive liberal doctrine. He calls this ‘political liberalism’. In political liberalism, autonomy and individuality do not have to be seen as philosophical or moral ideals, in the way Kant and Mill used to treat them (Mulhall and Swift 1996, 174–175; Caney 1995, 249). Rather, Rawls’s political liberalism formulates justice as fairness as a ‘political conception’ that can articulate the aims of a democratic constitution
and the limits it should respect:
The aim of justice as fairness as a political conception is practical, and not metaphysical or epistemological. That is, it presents itself not as a conception of justice that is true, but one that can serve as a basis of informed and willing political agreement between citizens viewed as free and equal persons. This agreement when securely founded in public political and social attitudes sustains the goods of all persons and associations within a just democratic regime. To secure this agreement we try, so far as we can, to avoid disputed philosophical, as well as disputed moral and religious questions. We do this not because these questions are unimportant or regarded with indifference, but because we think them too important and recognise that there is no way to resolve them politically.
(Rawls 1985, 230) The development in Rawls’s thinking makes his theory especially interesting for this study: he takes plurality in world views as a given for contemporary, constitutional democracies. As such, he tries to search for principles of justice that can serve as a basis for a well-ordered society that all opposing doctrines can support, and which ensure the key principles of liberalism: freedom and equality (Rawls 2005, 35).