Talk:Pluralism (political philosophy)

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I have cleaned this article up partially, but it still needs expansion. Removed the NPOV and replaced it with cleanup. It seems that what this article needs is expansion, not necessarily any heavy alterations. --Thorsen 18:11, 28 December 2005 (UTC)

Remarks that seem to be no longer relevant to the article as it is now have been moved to Talk:Pluralism/Archive--Robin 22:21, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

First paragraph issues[edit]

I modified the first paragraph and rephrased some of the more obscure passages throughout the article. --Thorsen 18:11, 28 December 2005 (UTC)

Especially, I replaced the nonsensical use of "social science" and replaced it with the more general term "politics" --Thorsen 18:15, 28 December 2005 (UTC)

Pluralism, the affirmation of diversity, is arguably one of the most important features of modern societies and social groups, and may be a key factor of progress in science, society and economic development. - It appears to me that pluralism is a necessary consequence of the shrinking world, which itself is brought on by rapidly falling transport and communications costs due to technological development; we are increasingly having to face cultures beyond the traditional sphere of our control - and pluralism is the only game that facilitates any advantages in such a situation. So much for POV.

The current paragraph appears to be pretty much waffle. How about: Pluralism is the affirmation of diversity, which permits the peaceful coexistence of different interests, convictions and lifestyles. - and leave it be: short and snappy. (20040302 23:01, 2 November 2005 (UTC))

I just took that bit over from the old article, and I feel that everything that followes after "and may be a key factor..." can indeed be cancelled, or inserted further down, at the discussion of the merits and disadvantages of ralism.
However, I would leave the "is arguably... groups" bit, because it shows that this term applies to society. After this, we should add that it has other fields of application: philosophy / religion as well as science.
I would leave the second paragraph as it is, even if it is a bit wordy, but I prefer definitions to be rather on the clear than on the short and snappy side (if there is a contradiction between these).
What I have done so far is just to translate the most important bits of the German article, de:Pluralismus, which I consider quite sound, arrange it which what has already been there, and add the bit about the common good. So it may be that some rewriting has still to be done. --Robin.rueth 09:27, 3 November 2005 (UTC)
I'm not sure I'm altogether satisfied with the state of the opening sentence as it now stands. For one thing, it doesn't make syntactic sense to me in the way that it uses the adjective "incommensurate" as relates to moral values. At minimum, it should be amended to read that these values are "incommensurate with each other," but, while that may be gramatically closer to to correct, it's still obscure to me; I'm not sure it actually means anything at all. My preference would be a return to something closer to 20040302's suggested opening definition. Besides pith, I think it has the virtue of being clear, sufficiently inclusive, and substantially correct. Grifter84 (talk) 17:54, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

Each opinion stated on the talk page and on the article itself takes a stance that pluralism is necessary for the "shrinking world" to function. Pluralism only functions in a ultimately positive way to pluralists, and such positive impact is possible under any societical system. The entire opinion of what pluralism accomplishes in this article is humanistically oriented. Therefore, I have placed NPOV on this article. Cormallen 20:21, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

Sorry, Cormallen, but what we've got here is just a standard definition of Pluralism that you can find most everywhere (that's also the way I heard things in my social studies class). As to POV, we are supposed to be sympathetic with what we talk about, so we first have to say how proponents of pluralism explain this concept; criticism can follow once the concept has been explained. As to the "shrinking world", it is no longer even on the page! I cannot see what should be humanistic (is that non-religious / non-Christian) about this definition.--Robin 22:00, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

Need for expansion/disambiguation page[edit]

Quite obviously, the two sections that need expansion are (nearly) empty so far

I would suggest instead that a disambiguation page is needed, as several of these topics are covered already on separate pages. --Error28 12:23, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
I'm in favour of turning this into a disambiguation page and either linking to existing articles of creating new ones on each seperate topic from the existing information. Madmedea 10:57, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

Historical basis for pluralism/secularism in North America[edit]

In some work on the pueblo articles, I saw two events which are related to the growth of pluralism in North America. My source is Ben Horgan, Rio Grande, and the articles on the Mexican Revolution. Graham Greene's novel The Power and the Glory also covers this theme:

  • North America is so huge that political power can be evaded by simple migration of its peoples. This has been true for millennia.
  • New Mexico was colonized for King and Christianity by order (La Toma) of the King of Spain in the 1500s, with subsequent revolts and reconquests. Relative stability was attained by 1700.
  • After the colonization of New Mexico, the Spanish kingdom could no longer afford to fund the priests or their orders. For this reason, by the beginning of the nineteenth century, the priests were encouraged to secularize their holdings - they were to consider themselves more self-sufficient, economically.
  • The priests responded with Hidalgo's grito which sounded the call for independence from Spain.
  • By the Mexican Revolution, the Mexican government federalized all church property and forbade church activities outside the walls of the churches. This eventually settled down and the church was allowed to resume its activities but had no more economic power (by federal law). This had the effect of chasing the Mexican Jesuits to New Mexico and Texas during the revolution, for example.
  • The successor factions/economic forces in Mexico are currently based in oligopoly (the economic equivalent of pluralism).
  • Some people of Mexico are voting with their feet and leaving Mexico for the US. Whole areas of rural Mexico are depopulating, with movement to cities.
  • I forbear mention of corresponding oligopoly arising elsewhere on the globe.

My point is there is an economic basis for pluralism, even if religion is cited solely in the actions of a state (the bearer of political power). Furthermore, if there had been one society (an aggregate of people) only, then its dissidents would have been hunted down by the agents of the current state. However, in each case, the dissidents responded by leaving one state for another in search of peace. It is too simple to call these power struggles. In the case of New Mexico, there was one state with multiple societies, for example, with one society (the Christians) even fleeing to a safer area (now called El Paso) in the Pueblo revolt of 1680. There is an interplay of social, cultural, religious and economic factors, each attempting to reach equilibrium. But hegemony of one state does not guarantee victory. Vigilance by the state is required, or else some other factor will arise which will then threaten the stability of that state. That change will then require a social, cultural, religious, and economic response, or else that state will not survive. But if the state cannot survive economically it eventually will not survive politically, and a society ensconced in that state may have to move or change, in order to retain its culture, or else it will disappear. It may be usefull to correlate this with the concepts in Jared Diamond's Collapse (book): some of the reasons for a collapse are

  1. failure to anticipate
  2. failure to perceive

--Ancheta Wis 23:26, 18 December 2005 (UTC)


Does anyone else see any irony in the state of this article? Because it had me laughing.--Elizabeth of North Carolina 03:00, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

What do you mean; I consider this a pretty serious article.--Robin.rueth 08:21, 5 January 2006 (UTC)
I mean pluralism is supposed to be the whole driving force for wikipedia, and the article on pluralism itself suffers from a lack of it--Elizabeth of North Carolina 11:43, 5 January 2006 (UTC)
I disagree. Pluralism, as the article states, implies negotiating disagreements, which is to say arriving at accommodations. Wikipedia, however, aims for truth, not for accommodation. That is why wikipedians converse rather than negotiate, which I take to be Charles Blattberg's point in his book criticising pluralism--Theo1
I'm new here, but I thought that while finding the truth was important, "Editors are encouraged to uphold a policy of "neutral point of view" under which notable perspectives are summarized without an attempt to determine an objective truth" (wikipedia on wikipedia). So the balance of viewpoints, including the time spent and wording, would require negotiations, as people would disagree about what sounded NPOV. --Elizabeth of North Carolina 15:30, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
Yes, I agree with you about the irony, Elizabeth; it's quite funny. I propose that some reference to Wikipedia's NPOV be made in the article itself as an example of the application of pluralism. -- Robert Turner 21:06, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
What seems just as ironic, to me, is that the entry on pluralism, which is the driving force for most *wikipedians* and the premise we accept for being here and accepting each other's work, is so inadequate and barely constructed, compared to Star Trek or what not. Huangdi 14:46, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

Topic merge[edit]

pluralistic perspective Simply repeats what's being said here in different words. Abaharaki 00:51, 23 August 2006 (UTC) I think so also.


It seems a bit inappropriate for an article about pluralism not to talk about Who Governs, especially if it is going to reference Schattschneider's refutation of Dahl's pluralism. I fixed the Schattschneider quote btw, it was a misquote. Still needs to be cited but I don't know how to do footnotes so if someone could fix it please. It's from Semisovereign People: A Realist's View of Democracy in America 1975, pg. 34-5

Is Pluralism a political theory of the state?[edit]

Hello. Section 1.1 'Neo-Pluralism & Corporatism' states, "While Pluralism as a political theory of the state..."and etc. I am not knowledgable about this subject, but I am reading Alan Cawson's 'Corporatism and Political Theory' and find here the following assertion:

"Pluralists manage to do without a theory of the state as such because their political theory of party government and group pressure has no room for one. If 'the state' means anything at all to pluralists, it is as a synonym for 'government' or 'civil service', or it represents the public side of the distinction between public and private... it is the manifest inabililty of pluralist theory to account for the the growth and role of public authority which justifies the development of state theory."

This seems a pretty devestating rebuttal to the notion that Pluralism is a theory of the state. But as I said I am incompetent to judge. I don't have any idea what Cawson thinks 'the state' is or anything about his qualifications to make such an assertion.

Jamie -- 05:47, 4 February 2007 (UTC)-- 05:47, 4 February 2007 (UTC)

As well as an idea to promote - i.e. people who are in favour of pluralism - pluralism is also a theory of power and the state and stands in opposition to elite theory and the like. See [1]. This page desparately needs a section on the "theory of pluralism" - on my to do list. Madmedea 10:38, 13 February 2007 (UTC)


The following paragraph is very problematic and displays a clear bias against cultural relativism, anarchocapitalism, postmodernism, and multiculturalism:

"Examples of misapplied pluralism include cultural relativism, anarcho-capitalism, and post-modernism. Pluralism's tolerance for difference, its fostering of diversity, its promotion of different individuals' pursuit of variable modes of life and their expression of different cultural values does not conflate all cultures as more or less equal (multiculturalism), nor is it indifferent to some cultural differences that are unacceptable to social standards of decency, e.g., genital mutilation (cultural relativism), nor is it without cognizance of the need for social institutions to provide "space" for diversity to meet minimum standards of decency and order (anarcho-capitalism), nor is it silent or uncritical of inferior standards and values (post-modernism), but engages different social and personal values in a critical, but respectful, dialectic of reciprocal evaluation. Coercive action is used only when another mode of life or cultural expression causes harm, otherwise it engages in a dialogue of critical evaluation of different modes and expressions through persuasion. Unlike many of the misapplications, pluralism's tolerance is intolerant of intolerance (which is self-defeating and anti-pluralistic)."

Cultural relativism is not equal to moral relavism or amorality but is, as the wikipedia article on it suggests, "that the appropriateness of any positive or negative custom must be evaluated with regard to how this habit fits with other group habits" (Clyde Kluckholm qtd in Cultural relativism). Cultural relativism is a heuristic & methodological device for evaluating "habits" in their own cultural contexts. So, the claim that cultural relativism automatically condones genital mutilation is POV'ed at best and simply wrong at worst.

Furthermore, the discussion of postmodernism - curiously hyphenated - presupposes a single, firm definition of postmodernism & then makes evaluative claims about it (that it is "silent or uncritical of inferior standards and values") without citing anyone.

Anarcho-capitalists would undoubtedly disagree with the paragraph's evaluation of their political \ economic beliefs and the bit on multiculturalism doesn't make much sense to me (How do you "conflate" cultures? Are there avowed multiculturalists out there who conceptually "fuse into one entity" all cultures? There's a difference between "conflating" and "equating.").

I suggest we delete this paragraph. (talk) 01:43, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

Absolute truth[edit]

As Diane L. Eck at Harvard maintains,

..., pluralism is not relativism, but the encounter of commitments. The new paradigm of pluralism does not require us to leave our identities and our commitments behind, for pluralism is the encounter of commitments. It means holding our deepest differences, even our religious differences, not in isolation, but in relationship to one another.

I think her point is well made and sheds light on the mistaken view expressed here:

Therefore any group with a philosophy that purports to hold both absolute truth and identify the common good necessarily rejects pluralism- their belief system does not consider as valid the opinions of others who do not hold to their given beliefs.

Whoever wrote that is implicitly defining pluralism as relativism and not inclusive of views of absolute truth (monism would be a more professional term)and this statement also inconsistently employs a categorical term. "any" group is a catagorical statement and tends to be rather absolutist, unyielding, way of looking at people who disagree with you.

The most avantly pluralist and the fathers of pluralists were arguably all monists--believers in revealed monotheism such as Luther with his Liberty of Conscience.

Even Votaire was a Deist: I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.

But the worst mistake made above may be seen in the misappropriation of the word, "valid." Only arguments can be described as valid--not opinions. And while the author of that statement is talking about "their beliefs" the objection still stands because to talk about "them" this way is to make a strawman out of their views. And whose beliefs are we talking about anyway? Objectivity is seriously lacking here. Lack of support. Not a neutral point of view. etc.

I suggest we delete this paragraph. Dabill (talk) 17:49, 24 December 2009 (UTC)

Absolutism vrs Extremism[edit]

I have edited the claim that the opposite of Pluralism is Extremism to say that Absolutism (not Extremism) is its opposite.

Absolutism (which also can be called Universalism) is the idea that there is one right way - which, for example, applies to the principle that 1+1=2 (which I doubt that anyone could seriously call extremist).

It appears that the article was subtly modified in order to spin the opposition to pluralism using a current buzzword ("Extremist") and that this goes against NPOV. LeapUK (talk) 10:48, 26 January 2016 (UTC)

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