Nick Martin, "Reconciling Liberal Neutrality and the Institution of Charity"

This paper seeks to reconcile the prima facie conflict between the institution of charity and the doctrine of liberal neutrality. To do so, I address two important questions: why should the state advantage goods deemed ‘charitable’ in the first place? And what conceptions of the good should it advantage? I first demonstrate that neutrality of effect cannot adequately answer the first question. Neutrality of justification would appear to fare better on the first question as it concerns the reasons for state decisions. I dismiss versions from Barry and Rawls as unworkable and too restrictive respectively. Instead, I propose the value of ‘general altruism’ as neutral grounds for advantaging charitable associations. To address which conceptions of the good should be advantaged I turn to neutrality of treatment, and outline why all conceptions of the good have the opportunity to obtain charitable status, subject to certain constraints on how charities paradigmatically operate. 

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