Concept Paper of Pluralism Yue Zhang George Washington University (TA: Joey Wachtel) Pluralism in contemporary academic field implies multiple meanings. One interpretation of pluralism is “the idea, classically formulated by Isaiah Berlin, that there is a plurality of distinct or ‘incommensurable’ values or goods” (Crowder, 2010). The word ‘incommensurable’ here means, in short, incomparable. This is because pluralism believes in multiple values, and there is no single fundamental value acting as denominator to rank between different values.
It is almost undoubtedly that eople value much goodness such as friendship, health and freedom. These values, from a utilitarian’s perspective, could be calculated to one fundamental value, say utility. Hence abovementioned good values along with others could be converted to values are not reducible to one fundamental value and as a consequence not measurable in terms of a fundamental value’. According to Crowder (2002), the value pluralism can be argued from the possibility of rational regret. The argument starts with two options A and B, and we can only choose one.
We often regret that we did not choose the other one after the decision is made. The regret is rational in many cases. Rationality will not be valid if there is only one value as people will not regret for choosing the option with higher fundamental value over the lesser one. There is no diminished value. Thus, the existence of rational regret proves value pluralism. However, this regret argument is not highly rigorous as a utilitarian is capable of explaining rational regret from a different perspective.
Schaber (1999) questioned the true reason of regret. He gave an example of either saving four people from island A or saving one people from island B. From monist point of view. People are regretting not because the incapability of saving the people on the other island. They regret about the situation since saving all five people is the best choice based on utility. Based on this argument, regret due to situation is rational as well. Thereafter, value pluralism seems to be less convincing.
Another important characteristic of value pluralism is frequent conflicts between different values. Even if these are all good moral values, but they are ‘heterogeneous’. This heterogeneity leads to definite moral loss when values are conflicting. Talisse, 2011). Consequently, there is one question: How can a decision be arrived without effectively ranking the choices. Crowder (2002) argued that the decision may be generated from the ‘context’. Crowder has this famous example to illustrate contextualization. He could choose to go to the beach or library.
Going to the library is picked because he can finish an article which will be demanded soon. The ‘covering value’ of going to the library with that specific ‘context’ is higher than going to the beach. The decision maker needs to internalize the question to his unique ackground by deciding ‘what matters to him most’ at that ‘context’. Pluralism is applicable in politics too. Since people are brought up in their own unique ways, it is common for people have different values, therefore, different interest to pursue.
Crowder (2002) then defined political pluralism as the multiplicity of interest groups and political parties that contest power in democratic systems and to the different locations and forums among which that power is divided. ‘ From this understanding of political pluralism, we can see it is definitely superior to uthoritarian as people could possibly compete for their interest. This could be seen in everyday political news as unions or political parties are trying to exert their influence to tilt the policies or laws toward their own benefit.
Although pluralism gives people the impression that it is open-minded to all kinds of opinions which are indeed imperative for modern democracy and liberalism, in reality pluralism may not necessarily lead to liberalism. Crowder used a simple example to illustrate how to contextualize and internalize the choice in order to make emand more Justification for the decision made over hard choice more than Just “this matters to me most at the point of time” according to Talisse (2011).
Hence pluralism may lead politically divided citizens to blindly support their politics because the process of making hard choices is simply to find out ‘what matters most under the situation’. Such loss of ‘reasonable argument’ and ‘respectful debate’ is against the spirit of liberalism. Furthermore, Darryl (1970) stated that pluralism had the tendency to equate elite bargaining and negotiation with the generic concept of olitic’. This is because not all individual or interest group has the resource or influence to compete for their benefit.
Therefore the rights of the underprivileged groups could possibly be ignored as elite groups have better ability to fght for their benefit, which will aggravate the situation in the long term. Reference Baskin, D (1970). American Pluralism: Theory, Practice, and Ideology. The Journal of politics, vol. 32, NO. 1 (Feb. , 1970), pp. 71-95 httpwwww. jstor. orvstable/2128865 (accessed September 20, 2013). Crowder, G. (2002). Liberalism and Value Pluralism. Continuum Books, London Crowder, G. (2010). Pluralism. In M.
Bevir (Ed. ), Encyclopedia of political theory. (pp. 1066-1069). Thousand oaks, CA: SAGE publications, Inc. dot: 10. 4135/9781412958660. n347 Schaber, P (1999). Value pluralism: Some problems. Journal of Value Inquiry 33, (1) (03): 71-78, http://search. proquest. com/docview/203920509? accountid=11243 Talisse, R. B. (2011). Value pluralism and liberal politics. Ethical Theory and Moral Practicel 4, (1) (02): 87-100, http://search. proquest. com/docview/851943207? accountid=11243 (accessed September 20, 2013).