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San Diego Law Review

Library of Congress Authority File

http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n79122466

Document Type

Law and Religion

Abstract

Liberalism is the view that the state should not, except on mutually justifiable grounds, coerce a society’s citizens to adopt, support, or follow some particular comprehensive conception of the good. So understood, a liberal state, by definition, permits each citizen a zone of freedom delimited by her own understanding of the ingredients of a happy life. Liberalism, as a normative theory governing state–citizen (and, indirectly, citizen–citizen) relations, is opposed by various forms of totalitarianism, including theocracy and communism. A theocratic state is one that imposes a particular religious form of life on its citizens, and thereby restricts their freedom to act in ways that the state considers heretical. A communist state is one that imposes a particular economic form of life on its citizens, and thereby restricts their freedom to engage in economic activity that the state considers exploitative or alienating.

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