Species of Pluralism in Political Philosophy

Journal of Value Inquiry 55 (3):491-506 (2021)
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The name ‘pluralism’ frequently rears its head in political philosophy, but theorists often have different things in mind when using the term. Whereas ‘reasonable pluralism’ refers to the fact of moral diversity among citizens of a liberal democracy, ‘value pluralism’ is a metaethical view about the structure of moral practical reasoning. In this paper, I argue that value pluralism is part of the best explanation for reasonable pluralism. However, I also argue that embracing this explanation is compatible with political liberalism’s commitment to avoiding controversial premises. According value pluralism an explanatory role does not entail according it a justificatory one. What’s more, explaining reasonable disagreement in terms of reasonable disagreement about value weights opens up space for direct appeal to substantive values within political liberalism. In particular, promoting a substantive political value when doing so does not conflict with other values is unproblematic.

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Kyle Johannsen
Trent University

References found in this work

Political Liberalism.John Rawls - 1993 - Columbia University Press.
Rescuing Justice and Equality.G. A. Cohen (ed.) - 2008 - Harvard University Press.
What is the point of equality.Elizabeth Anderson - 1999 - Ethics 109 (2):287-337.

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