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Volume 26 • Number 4

October 2012



On the Burka Ban

by Eun-Jung Katherine Kim

On April 11, 2011, the burka ban went into effect in France. Women could be fined 150 euros or given lessons in French citizenship for wearing a fullface veil in public. This paper answers the main questions regarding the moral justifiability of the ban in a liberal society: Does the ban free women from a mechanism of control or limit their freedom of expression? Does the ban promote women's liberty to participate in society or take away their liberty to perform a religious obligation? Is the ban a solution to a collective action problem that gives effect to women's judgment or a paternalist policy that overrides it? Does the ban promote equality between women and men or fail to achieve neutrality between different worldviews? Does the ban promote public safety or discriminate against a segment of the public? This paper answers these questions by examining five arguments in defense of the ban: arguments from Control, Liberty, a Collective Action Problem, Equality, and Security. Each of the following five sections lays out an argument in defense of the ban and then offers objections against the argument. Given the objections against the strongest arguments that support the burka ban, this paper argues that the ban cannot be justified in a liberal society based on those arguments.

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Public Affairs Quarterly is published by the University of Illinois Press on behalf of North American Philosophical Publications.

ISSN: 2152-0542