I’m somewhere between the strong opponents of the concept of “social justice” among libertarians and my BHL colleagues who embrace it Tomasi-style. But a facebook discussion prompts the following thought: do we need some concept like “social justice”– some norm that’s not derivable from the individual-level rules of just conduct in the way that the non-aggression principle supposedly is– in order to talk about what’s wrong with an established church?
In American terms, I want to isolate the problem of establishment from the problem of free exercise. That is, my question isn’t: What’s unjust about restrictions on religious liberty? but: What’s unjust about the state endorsement of one religion over others? For Rawlsians, like for “public reason” libertarians like Gerald Gaus or Kevin Vallier, I take it that religious establishment is one of the easiest of questions– a core case of the injustice and disrespect that’s involved in a particular kind of non-neutrality. But for the strongest critics of “social justice”-type language, it strikes me that it would be hard to articulate the wrong of religious establishment– symbolic endorsement and formal identification of the state with a particular church, provided that it not come with taxpayer support or with restrictions on the religious liberty of dissenters. Maybe something could be jerry-rigged, but I’ll bet that for many of my fellow American libertarians, there’s something unsettling about having to jerry-rig complicated arguments for what we take to be a very easy case.
Does that strike you as right? Is this a case in which many libertarians tacitly rely on a kind of argument of which they (or we) officially disapprove when it goes under the name of “social justice”?