Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter begins by outlining the main features of value pluralism and the problem of how to choose among conflicting incommensurable values. The second section reviews a number of different accounts of the relation between pluralism and liberalism. These commence with the claim that pluralism contradicts liberalism, before considering those arguments that attempt to bring the two ideas together: one based on universal values; another on “agonism”, or the idea that choices among incommensurables must be non-rational; a third on various dimensions of context; and a fourth on compromise or modus vivendi. All these approaches are found to have serious problems or limitations. The final section considers another approach, involving reflection on the concept of pluralism itself, which argues for liberal conclusions by way of norms of value diversity, diversity of ways of life, and personal autonomy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbuch Liberalismus
EditorsMichael Festl
Place of PublicationGermany
PublisherJ. B. Metzler
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9783476057983
ISBN (Print)9783476057976
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Value pluralism
  • liberalism
  • Isaiah Berlin
  • Context
  • diversity
  • autonomy
  • Max Weber
  • history
  • Bernard Williams


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