Isaiah Berlin's cosmopolitan ethics

Political Theory 32 (4):495-518 (2004)
Abstract
This essay offers a reinterpretation of Isaiah Berlin's value pluralism. It argues that pluralism is above all an ethical stance by means of which Berlin asserts the importance of empathy, imagination, and freedom in any good human life. Emphasizing these elements of Berlin's thought draws out his deeply cosmopolitan outlook, which his critics have often ignored. On this reading, Berlin is no defender of cultural particularism-rather, he prefers individuals who understand their choices and aspirations against a broad background of incommensurable yet valuable alternatives. It is on this pluralist sensibility that he rests his hopes for a tolerant, humane politics
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