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Moral pluralism

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L058-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 13, 2024, from

Article Summary

Moral pluralism is the view that moral values, norms, ideals, duties and virtues are irreducibly diverse: morality serves many purposes relating to a wide range of human interests, and it is therefore unlikely that a theory unified around a single moral consideration will account for all the resulting values. Unlike relativism, however, moral pluralism holds that there are rational constraints on what can count as a moral value. One possible, though not necessary, implication of moral pluralism is the existence of real moral dilemmas. Some philosophers have deemed these to be inconceivable; in fact, however, they do not constitute a serious threat to practical reason. Another possible implication of moral pluralism is the existence within a society of radically different but equally permissible moralities. This poses a challenge for political philosophy, and might justify a liberal view that particular conceptions of the good life ought not to be invoked in the formulation of public policy.

Citing this article:
Weinstock, Daniel M.. Moral pluralism, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L058-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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