26Minorities and group rights

Michael M Karayanni and Roberto Gargarella

26.1 Liberalism, neutrality and the constitution

For many decades, it was assumed that liberal constitutions had to be neutral in relation to different ways of life and conceptions of the good, so as to be equally respectful of them all. Philosophers referred to this idea of neutrality as ‘the priority of the right over the good’ (Rawls 1971, 1988). John Rawls, for example, maintained this view of neutrality, which he extended to the constitution. For him, the constitution had to limit itself to the establishment of a fair procedure through which rival parties would seek approval from the people. It had to set up ‘a form of fair rivalry for political office and authority’ ...

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