Value Pluralism, Diversity and Liberalism

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (3):549-564 (2015)


Few would disagree that contemporary society is characterized by ‘pluralism’, but what this means is widely disputed. Among the many senses of pluralism current in contemporary political theory, ‘value pluralism’ is one of the most keenly contested. The classic account is found in Isaiah Berlin, who sees basic human values as irreducibly multiple, often conflicting, and sometimes incommensurable with one another.Berlin’s pluralist views are scattered throughout his work, but major statements include the Introduction and last section of ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’ in Berlin (2002), Berlin (1990), and Berlin (2000). Other accounts of pluralism influenced by Berlin include Raz (1986); Hampshire (1989); Stocker (1990); Nussbaum (1992) chapter 2; Kekes (1993); Gray (1995a, b); Chang (1997); Crowder (2002, 2004); Galston (2002, 2005). In the Continental tradition the concept of value pluralism is often traced to Max Weber (1948). Berlin seems in general to have believed that the pluralist outl ..

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