From Value Pluralism to Liberalism

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    What are the implications for politics, in particular for liberalism, of ‘value pluralism’, the view that the most fundamental human goods are irreducibly plural and ‘incommensurable’? One claim is that value pluralism undermines attempts to provide a rational justification of liberalism, since it rules out the possibility of ranking (for good reason) liberal goods above others. Against this claim I argue that not only is the plurality of values compatible with the reasoned defence of liberalism, value pluralism itself generates a distinctive liberal case. It does this in two ways. First, it suggests a ‘contextual’ argument, according to which pluralism gives us a reason to attend to context, which may in turn provide a case for liberalism. Second, it implies a ‘universal’ argument, under which the pluralist outlook commits us to valuing a diversity of goods and ways of life that a liberal framework best accommodates.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationPluralism and Liberal Neutrality
    EditorsRichard Bellamy, Martin Hollis
    Place of PublicationLondon
    PublisherTaylor & Francis
    Number of pages16
    ISBN (Electronic)9781135231989
    ISBN (Print)0714649163, 0714644706
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


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