Sociology Index

Moral Pluralism

MORAL PLURALISM is also known as ethical pluralism or value pluralism. Moral pluralism is the idea that there are several values which may be equally correct and fundamental, and yet in conflict with each other. Moral pluralism also postulates that such incompatible values may be incommensurable, in the sense that there is no objective ordering of them in terms of importance. Moral pluralism is an alternative to both moral relativism and moral absolutism. An example of moral pluralism is the idea that the moral life of a nun is incompatible with that of a mother, yet there is no purely rational measure of which is preferable. Under moral pluralism, moral decisions often require radical preferences with no rational calculus to determine which alternative is to be selected. Pluralism describes a society where individual and group differences are present and are celebrated as enriching the social fabric.

Moral Pluralism and the Origin of Political Conflict, Ferrell, Jason
Abstract: Political institutions have frequently been justified as a response to conflict. Consequently, assumptions about the nature of conflict often shape our conceptions of what is political. Two of the most prevalent interpretations of conflict perspectives regard it as either a contest of interest or a competition for resources. As I will argue here, there is another conception of conflict – one tied to the idea of moral pluralism – which offers a different interpretation of this idea, and therefore prompts a reconsideration of how we justify our institutions. To show this I will review arguments concerning the origin of conflict as understood by game theory’s conception of the prisoner’s dilemma, as seen in the work of David Gauthier, and the idea of the “tragedy of the commons.” For from the perspective of pluralism, moral conflict often escapes explanation in terms of self-regard or scarcity.

Moral Pluralism and Liberal Democracy: Isaiah Berlin's Heterodox Liberalism
William A. Galston, The Review of Politics (2009), 71:85-99 Cambridge University Press
Abstract: While Isaiah Berlin considered himself principally as a political theorist in the liberal tradition, his was an unorthodox liberalism in both method and substance, rooted in the confluence of three traditions, British, Russian, and Jewish. Unlike many liberals, he wrestled with the tension between universalism and particularism, and also between individualism and communalities.

Moral Pluralism in Business Ethics Education: It is About Time, Brian K. Burton, Craig P. Dunn, Western Washington University, Michael Goldsby, Ball State University, Journal of Management Education, Vol. 30, No. 1, 90-105 (2006)
The teaching of business ethics is almost inherently pluralistic, but little evidence of explicitly pluralistic approaches exists in teaching materials besides the available decision-making frameworks. In this article, it is argued that the field needs to acknowledge and adopt pluralism as the standard pedagogical approach.

Moral Pluralism and the Environment, Andrew Brennan
Abstract: Cost-benefit analysis makes the assumption that everything from consumer goods to endangered species may in principle be given a value by which its worth can be compared with that of anything else, even though the actual measurement of such value may be difficult in practice. A radical moral pluralism is recommended as in no way incompatible with the requirements of rationality, which allows that the business of living decently involves many kinds of principles and various sorts of responsibilities.

Lawyers, Justice and the Challenge of Moral Pluralism, Katherine R. Kruse, William S. Boyd School of Law, UNLV, Minnesota Law Review, Vol. 90, No. 2, Forthcoming
Abstract: Traditionalists defend the amoral role of lawyers, arguing that lawyers should remain moral neutral in their representation of clients. This article focuses attention on a subject missing from the debate among lawyering theorists: the challenge of moral pluralism. Moral pluralism has been widely discussed in political and moral philosophy. This article explores what political and moral theorists say about the sources of moral pluralism. The article then uses this analysis to examine the shortcomings of both the traditional model of morally neutral lawyering, and the alternative social justice lawyering models, in the face of moral pluralism. The existence of moral pluralism also alleviates the concern that lawyers will act in moral concert, thus eliminating the logical aspects of the last lawyer in town problem, and leaving only logistical concerns with the provision of legal counsel.

Moral pluralism in abortion, Gardell MA, In: Abortion and the status of the fetus, edited by William B. Bondeson, H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr., Stuart F. Spicker and Daniel H. Winship. Dordrecht, Netherlands, D. Reidel Publishing, 1984. (Philosophy and Medicine Volume 13)
Abstract: This discussion argues that the state of moral pluralism characterizing the abortion debate reflects an acceptance of both the implications of human reason and the obligation to reflect the autonomy of competent individuals.

Reproductive tourism as moral pluralism in motion, Dr G Pennings, Department of Philosophy, Free University Brussels, Pleinlaan 2, lokaal 5 C 442, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium, Journal of Medical Ethics 2002;28:337-341.
Reproductive tourism is the travelling by candidate service recipients from one institution, jurisdiction, or country where treatment is not available to another institution, jurisdiction, or country where they can obtain the kind of medically assisted reproduction they desire. Reproductive tourism comes under the broader term medical tourism. Three possible solutions are discussed: internal moral pluralism, coerced conformity, and international harmonisation. Reproductive tourism is moral pluralism realised by moving across legal borders.