Prophylactic Neutrality, Oppression, and the Reverse Pascal's Wager

Ethical Perspectives 19 (3):527-535 (2012)
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Abstract
In Beyond Neutrality, George Sher criticises the idea that state neutrality between competing conceptions of the good helps protect society from oppression. While he is correct that some governments are non-neutral without being oppressive, I argue that those governments may be neutral at the core of their foundations. The possibility of non-neutrality leading to oppression is further explored; some conceptions of the good would favour oppression while others would not. While it is possible that a non-neutral state may avoid oppression, it is argued that the risks are so great that it is better to bet on government being neutral, thereby minimizing the possibility of oppression.
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