Pluralism

The earth colored like a rainbow spectrum color wheel, glowing with a rainbow aura.

Pluralism refers to people of diverse and conflicting beliefs coexisting peaceably, linked by their adherence to a shared social contract which commits members of different groups to treating others fairly and accommodating them equally in the public square.

The only way to save democracy from the Christian Right is by fighting for pluralism – The Conversationalist

First, pluralism is not diversity alone, but the energetic engagement with diversity.

Second, pluralism is not just tolerance, but the active seeking of understanding across lines of difference.

Third, pluralism is not relativism, but the encounter of commitments.

Fourth, pluralism is based on dialogue.

About | The Pluralism Project

recently called for liberals and non-believers to take the navigation of pluralism seriously, to embrace pluralism as a liberal value, and to engage in discussions of how to fairly and meaningfully achieve equal accommodation in the public square. To do so, to my mind, requires an understanding emphasized by modern social contract theorists like Karl Popper that the toleration of intolerance must have limits, lest the intolerant use the machinery of a tolerant society to take power and end tolerance…

The Evangelical Pluralism Problem and its Media Enablers | Religion Dispatches

Embracing pluralism is good citizenship.

Embracing pluralism is good citizenship.

A Personal Update and Some Thoughts on Pluralism – Not Your Mission Field
EMBRACING PLURALISM IS GOOD CITIZENSHIP Democracy Demands Equal Accommodation
By Chrissy Stroop

Embracing pluralism is...

- Genuinely listening with no agenda when others share about their beliefs Treating shared values as more important than shared beliefs
- Refraining from proselytizing, incl. for atheism
- Posting messages of inclusion in my place of business
- Baking cakes for everyone who comes to my cake shop
- Leaving healthcare decisions between patients and doctors
- Recognizing the rights of all to refuse participation in any religious activity
- Tempering my free speech by considering whether my speech will do more harm or good
- Participating in interfaith activities and aiding religious minorities who are in harm's way
- Tolerating those with whom I have substantive differences Seeking the common good first in public life

Embracing pluralism is not…

- Asking strangers what church they go to
- Aggressively alienating those who do not share my religion or my atheism
- Viewing others as potential converts
- Flying the Christian flag or posting religious content in my place of business
- Agitating for the legal 'right" not to bake cakes for people I don't like
- Abusing conscience clauses or the religious ownership of a hospital to deny needed care
- Coercing participation in prayer or demanding sectarian practice in my workplace
- Saying offensive things toward those who do not share my beliefs 'because I can*
- Offering aid to those who do not share my beliefs on my terms, without concern for their needs
- Tolerating intolerance
- Seeking domination for those who share my beliefs in public life
Embracing Pluralism Is Good Citizenship

Embracing pluralism is…

  • Genuinely listening with no agenda when others share about their beliefs
  • Treating shared values as more important than shared beliefs
  • Refraining from proselytizing, incl. for atheism
  • Posting messages of inclusion in my place of business
  • Baking cakes for everyone who comes to my cake shop
  • Leaving healthcare decisions between patients and doctors
  • Recognizing the rights of all to refuse participation in any religious activity
  • Tempering my free speech by considering whether my speech will do more harm or good
  • Participating in interfaith activities and aiding religious minorities who are in harm’s way
  • Tolerating those with whom I have substantive differences Seeking the common good first in public life
A Personal Update and Some Thoughts on Pluralism – Not Your Mission Field

Embracing pluralism is not…

  • Asking strangers what church they go to
  • Aggressively alienating those who do not share my religion or my atheism
  • Viewing others as potential converts
  • Flying the Christian flag or posting religious content in my place of business
  • Agitating for the legal ‘right” not to bake cakes for people I don’t like
  • Abusing conscience clauses or the religious ownership of a hospital to deny needed care
  • Coercing participation in prayer or demanding sectarian practice in my workplace
  • Saying offensive things toward those who do not share my beliefs ‘because I can*
  • Offering aid to those who do not share my beliefs on my terms, without concern for their needs
  • Tolerating intolerance
  • Seeking domination for those who share my beliefs in public life
A Personal Update and Some Thoughts on Pluralism – Not Your Mission Field
Anti-Proselytizing Principles
Prophylactic Protection against Evangelical Aggression
By Chrissy Stroop

- I am not your mission field.
- I don't owe you a debate.
- There are no shortcuts to being a good person, least of all "right belief”.
- Leavers are not a "crisis in the Church." Treat us as humans with moral autonomy.
- Proselytizing is always objectification. Let people follow their own consciences.
- Our stories are ours. Leavers are not believers' object lessons
Anti-Proselytizing Principles

Anti-Proselytizing Principles
Prophylactic Protection against Evangelical Aggression
By Chrissy Stroop

  • I am not your mission field.
  • I don’t owe you a debate.
  • There are no shortcuts to being a good person, least of all “right belief”.
  • Leavers are not a “crisis in the Church.” Treat us as humans with moral autonomy.
  • Proselytizing is always objectification. Let people follow their own consciences.
  • Our stories are ours. Leavers are not believers’ object lessons.
Empowerment against Evangelization: Countering Conversion Attempts by Asserting Moral Autonomy – Not Your Mission Field

Remind yourself that shared values, rather than shared beliefs, are what matter when it comes to interacting with others, and that there is no replacement for doing the hard work of making yourself better.

Chrissy Stroop
Abstract art of two interlinked, amorphous tube shapes containing galaxies and rainbows.
Interdependent Universes Oriented Around a Rainbow of Common Good
Generated with Midjourney.com

Religious Pluralism

One cannot achieve a healthy religious pluralism by pretending that robust mutual respect for religious diversity exists where it does not exist. Fostering healthy pluralism, which democracy demands, means confronting intolerance.

Stop Gaslighting The Left About Evangelicals. They Believe Awful Things About Jews – The Forward

So what might a liberal pluralism predicated on robust separation of church and state and equal accommodation in the public square look like? And how might we navigate the tensions not just between representatives of different confessions, but also between believers and non-believers?

It is self-evidently necessary for progressive atheists and agnostics to build coalitions with progressive believers and to work together toward the common good.

The only way to save democracy from the Christian Right is by fighting for pluralism – The Conversationalist

Thus, the practice of pluralism re-constructs the perception of the ‘other,’ which builds character and, ultimately, communities.

The possibilities of pluralism are infinite. The very fabric of diversity has the ability to make a community thrive.

The role of pluralism is one of rising significance. The ability to cooperate well with other groups will not only define us as people, but define our ability to pass laws, build infrastructure, and problem-solve as a nation. Thus, the role of pluralism is crucial to the success of today’s and tomorrow’s world.

Empowering minority groups to adequately gain equal access to programs and resources is a critical part of pluralism. Healthy and resilient communities need to provide all community members with access to resources and programs that build communal and individual knowledge of the best and most effective ways to create desired change.

Unlike the limited form of pluralism reflected in the ecumenical vision of pluralism, the conception of pluralism Eck advocates can accommodate those with exclusivist truth claims. This latter form of pluralism asks individuals with such truth claims to display mutual respect for conflicting worldviews not by abandoning the exclusivity of their truth claims, but rather by acknowledging that the reasoning they find sufficient for their beliefs may not be sufficient for others. Including this conception of pluralism as civic norm for negotiating conflicting worldviews and religious beliefs adds additional dimension to the framework of free expression and civil discourse.

Nonetheless, by discouraging certain perspectives on the issue, the norm of pluralism raises the paradox of toleration: a tolerant society can survive only if it is intolerant of some beliefs (Stolzenberg, 1993; Macedo, 2000; Spinner-Halev, 2000). The norm of pluralism, however, maximizes tolerance consistent with the mutual respect required in such a society (Thiemann, 1996; Connolly, 2005).

The logic of pluralism was not one of incorporation, but of genuine encounter, an encounter that recognizes difference, that does not elide differences into a “we” that is already known.

The Journal of Inter-Religious Studies, Issue 17, Summer 2015

For Rev. Dr. Cari Jackson, RCRC’s Director of Spiritual Care and Activism, pluralism is associated above all with compassion. “To be compassionate requires decentering or stepping outside one’s own experiences in order to give priority to the experiences of others,” Jackson said. This task is more challenging, she added, for those who “are part of any privileged hegemony” because of “a limitation of experience and exposure.”

Christianity represents one of these hegemonies, said Jackson. “For interfaith dialogues to be healthy and viable, now is a critical time for atheist perspectives to be included,” she said, adding: “The path to social harmony and national unity is paved by compassion for and a genuine valuing of the stranger, those whose beliefs, practices, and so on, are different from those in the social, religious or political majority.”

Jeremy Forest Price, who is involved in interfaith work, agrees with Jackson on the importance of clear-eyed honesty regarding power dynamics and the importance of representation. “An emphasis on pluralism will help open up the discussion around religion (and worldviews, spiritualities, and the absence of religion) so that we can trace the ways that specific religious ideologies influence our shared public spaces,” he said.

The only way to save democracy from the Christian Right is by fighting for pluralism – The Conversationalist

Pluralism Is Our Reality

Pluralism is our reality. In our hierarchy of loyalties, let’s think above personal and tribal differences and enshrine our central tie, the allegiance and affinity that matters most: the bond of belonging to the human family.

The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety: Defining the Path to Inclusion and Innovation

Our differences pervade our beliefs, preferences, and allegiances. They affect not only what we think, but also how we think, and how we see the world. The philosopher John Rawls called it the “fact of pluralism”—the recognition that we live in a society of “a plurality of conflicting, and indeed incommensurable, conceptions of the meaning, value and purpose of human life.”

Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving through Deep Difference

Isaiah Berlin on Pluralism

Pluralism: the belief not merely in the multiplicity, but in the incommensurability, of the values of different cultures and societies, and, in addition, in the incompatibility of equally valid ideals, together with the implied revolutionary corollary that the classical notions of an ideal man and of an ideal society are intrinsically incoherent and meaningless.

The proper study of mankind : an anthology of essays : Berlin, Isaiah, 1909-1997 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

We were in such a state of delirium thinking about how great science and reason were that we ignored one of the biggest breakthroughs in the history of human thought, the call by these thinkers of the Counter-Enlightenment for us to move away from monism and towards what Isaiah Berlin called “pluralism.”

There’s a famous essay by Isaiah Berlin titled “The Hedgehog and the Fox.” Now, in this essay he provides a sort of spirit animal for these two very different kinds of thinking. The classic line from the essay is that the hedgehog sees one big thing while the fox sees many things: the hedgehog obviously representing the thinking of a typical monist, the fox representing the approach of a pluralist. To Isaiah Berlin, the hedgehog, or the monist, is operating from a very limited vantage point where they can really only see in one single direction, and they’re assuming that’s all there is. They think about understanding the world always in relation to how it fits into some sort of overarching structure, seemingly just for the sake of having a cohesive worldview which they assume is possible.

But the fox, on the other hand, doesn’t look at the world in the same way as the hedgehog. Berlin says the fox understands that the range and complexity of everyone’s human experience is so massive — the way different languages orient people with the world, the way our different personalities orient us, the different preferences, feelings, experiences — what it is to be a human being is far too complex to ever have a single spokesperson.

But, to the initial charge that the pluralist is actually just a relativist, Isaiah Berlin might reply with the famous quote from his work, “I prefer coffee; you prefer champaign. We have different tastes. There’s nothing more to be said. That is relativism. But Herder’s view and Vico’s,” two thinkers of the Counter-Enlightenment, “is not that. It is what I should describe as pluralism, that is the conception that there are many different ends that men may seek and still be fully rational.”

Two different people using the exact same process of rationality could arrive at very different conclusions about moral or political values simply because of the complexity of human experience. And, here’s the kicker that will make this have such an impact on political thought, both of those conclusions are intelligible and rational. There’s no ultimate organizing principle. There’s no logical conclusion we’re going to arrive at. There’s no mathematical or scientific answer to questions about values. There’s only human rationality and the vast array of experiences and tools that we have to pull from that will determine these “blurry answers” we’re capable of coming up with. Well, that and, to Berlin, everything that’s common among all human beings regardless of culture.

Episode 140 – Isaiah Berlin pt. 1 – Pluralism — Philosophize This!
Episode #140 – Transcript — Philosophize This!

Something he calls “pluralism” or the idea that, when it comes to values, there are multiple different ends that people can arrive at using the exact same process of rationality and that both conclusions can, nonetheless, be intelligible and rational simultaneously. The complexity of human experience makes questions of political and moral values destined to have blurry answers. The values of a person or culture are extremely complicated. They overlap. They contradict each other. They’re situational, inconsistent. The values of people are often what he calls “incommensurable.”

Well, what criteria do we use to determine how much mercy we should use and how much justice we should use? His whole point here is that you can never answer this question clearly with some single criterion or single maxim. The fact is, the true complexity of human experience makes this impossible. Monism cannot ever actually mediate the relationship between complex human values like mercy and justice. The mistake of the thinkers of the past has been to try to come up with some single standard that addresses all the complexities of billions of people living together. “The goal of the justice system should be to maximize freedom,” or “balance the scales.” These overly ambitious golden rules are utterly useless when it comes to truly sifting through the blurry, complex relationship between human values like mercy and justice.

Episode 141 – Isaiah Berlin pt. 2 – Pluralism and Culture — Philosophize This!
Episode #141 – Transcript — Philosophize This!

To Isaiah Berlin, the fact is, people and cultures often have to hold two, what he calls, “incommensurable values” like mercy and justice simultaneously. These values are sometimes totally incompatible. They sometimes overlap in weird ways. When you abandon the strategy of trying to find a way that billions of human beings can be fit into a neat, little package governed by a single maxim, then you encounter what Isaiah Berlin sees as the true pluralism that lies at the foundation of human values.

Episode 141 – Isaiah Berlin pt. 2 – Pluralism and Culture — Philosophize This!
Episode #141 – Transcript — Philosophize This!

See, the change from monism to pluralism is subtle. It changes the way you view people who disagree with you because, when you recognize the pluralistic nature of human values, you realize that there’s no single correct answer. And, even if there was, rationality is not the tool that’s going to get us there. The idea that if only we have more rational discussions about things eventually everyone rational will agree on the same values is a misunderstanding of what rationality is producing for us. Rationality is just utterly incapable of solving all the problems that can exist between cultures that value different things.

Episode 141 – Isaiah Berlin pt. 2 – Pluralism and Culture — Philosophize This!
Episode #141 – Transcript — Philosophize This!

This is the true role of rationality for Isaiah Berlin. When it comes to moral and political values, we’re never going to agree on everything. Rationality cannot give us that. But what it can do is mediate the differences between different moral systems and allow us to be more tolerant of each other. You don’t go to war with another culture just because they value something you don’t. You can disagree, try to understand the best you can, but you don’t think they’re stupid or evil just because they don’t do everything the way you do. The same way rationality can regulate the relationships between cultures, it can regulate the relationships between people of the same culture.

Episode 141 – Isaiah Berlin pt. 2 – Pluralism and Culture — Philosophize This!
Episode #141 – Transcript — Philosophize This!

This way of looking at philosophy sustains Berlin’s belief in pluralism. ‘Pluralism’ is a dingy word. Most people accept that there are many groups and interests in society, and a good society arranges for them to tolerate each other’s existence: indeed the most powerful of all institutions in society, the State, should make a special effort to give minority interests as much scope as possible. Most people think pluralism is a pragmatic compromise. It does not compel us to abandon our belief in socialism or in the beneficence of the inequality produced by the market economy, or our belief that there is a rule, could we but act upon it, that should govern all our lives. But Berlin means something much more disturbing. He takes the unfashionable view that good ends conflict. Equality and freedom frequently conflict; and to get more of one you have to surrender some part of the other. No one can doubt Berlin’s belief in the importance of liberty. But he does not beat a drum-roll for Hayek. Liberty is only one of the good things in life for which he cares. For him equality is also a sacred value, and those who reject equality as a bad dream are unsympathetic to him. He acknowledges that if liberty for the powerful and intelligent means the exploitation of the weak and less gifted, the liberty of the powerful and intelligent should be curtailed. To publish a book in England, however offensive to Moslems, is one thing. But to sell the same book in the old city in Jerusalem with maximum publicity and invite riots and death is another. The need to make distinctions of this kind is the justification of pluralism.

pluralism, the recognition of an indefinite variety of cultures and systems of values, all equally ultimate, and incommensurable with one another, so that the belief in a universally valid path to human fulfilment is rendered incoherent.

Pluralism entails that Utopia is not so much unrealisable in practical terms as inconceivable, given the nature of human values. All enterprises based on the search for a perfect society are given the lie by this devastating claim.

The proper study of mankind : an anthology of essays : Berlin, Isaiah, 1909-1997 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

I prefer coffee, you prefer champagne. We have different tastes. There is no more to be said.’ That is relativism. But Herder’s view, and Vico’s, is not that: it is what I should describe as pluralism that is, the conception that there are many different ends that men may seek and still be fully rational, fully men, capable of understanding each other and sympathising and deriving light from each other, as we derive it from reading Plato or the novels of medieval Japan – worlds, outlooks, very remote from our own.

The proper study of mankind : an anthology of essays : Berlin, Isaiah, 1909-1997 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

Pluralism, with the measure of ‘negative’ liberty that it entails, seems to me a truer and more humane ideal than the goals of those who seek in the great disciplined, authoritarian structures the ideal of ‘positive’ self-mastery by classes, or peoples, or the whole of mankind. It is truer, because it does, at least, recognise the fact that human goals are many, not all of them commensurable, and in perpetual rivalry with one another.

The proper study of mankind : an anthology of essays : Berlin, Isaiah, 1909-1997 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

John Rawls on Pluralism

Rawls’s account of the reasonable citizen highlights his view of human nature. Humans are not irredeemably self-centered, dogmatic, or driven by what Hobbes called, “a perpetual and restless desire of power after power” (1651, 58). Humans have at least the capacity for genuine toleration and mutual respect.

This human capacity raises the hope that the diversity of worldviews in a democratic society may represent not merely pluralism, but reasonable pluralism. Rawls hopes, that is, that the religious, moral, and philosophical doctrines that citizens accept will themselves endorse toleration and accept the essentials of a democratic regime. In the religious sphere, for example, a reasonable pluralism might contain a reasonable Catholicism, a reasonable interpretation of Islam, a reasonable atheism, and so on. Being reasonable, none of these doctrines will advocate the use of coercive political power to impose religious conformity on citizens with different beliefs.

The possibility of reasonable pluralism softens but does not solve the challenge of legitimacy: how one law can legitimately be imposed on diverse citizens. For even in a society of reasonable pluralism, it would be unreasonable to expect everyone to endorse, say, a reasonable Catholicism as the basis for a constitutional settlement. Reasonable Muslims or atheists cannot be expected to endorse Catholicism as setting the basic terms for social life. Nor, of course, can Catholics be expected to accept Islam or atheism as the fundamental basis of law. No comprehensive doctrine can be accepted by all reasonable citizens, and so no comprehensive doctrine can serve as the basis for the legitimate use of coercive political power.

John Rawls (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Synthesis. Insofar as there is a retreat from ideology, it begins there.

Both Will and I have come to spend less time thinking about what might be the correct or optimal political philosophy and more time thinking about the workaday challenges of pluralism and democracy: how people of different cultures, ethnicities, genders, beliefs, and personalities, whose disagreements and conflicts are unlikely ever to be entirely resolved, can live together in relative peace.
Synthesis. Insofar as there is a retreat from ideology, it begins there.

Volts podcast: Will Wilkinson on libertarianism, pluralism, and America’s political crisis – Volts

And the most under-nuanced approach to thinking in the history of the world is monism. So this is why any attempt to distill the true plurality of human values down into a single maxim always fails miserably in the long run.

Episode 141 – Isaiah Berlin pt. 2 – Pluralism and Culture — Philosophize This!
Episode #141 – Transcript — Philosophize This!

“It is in doing the work that we discover what we have in common,” he said, noting that the work itself leads to an appreciation of our differences.

The only way to save democracy from the Christian Right is by fighting for pluralism – The Conversationalist

Practicing Pluralism

Practicing pluralism is harm reduction and triage. Practicing pluralism is recognizing and reducing minority stress and designing for the edges.

Fostering healthy pluralism, which democracy demands, means confronting intolerance.

Stop Gaslighting The Left About Evangelicals. They Believe Awful Things About Jews – The Forward
A rainbow doesn't choose to be a rainbow
It just shines in the sky

To all of you in darkness
We're here turning on the light

Now I stand with you for the world to see
My love, my dreams, and me
My love, my dreams, and me

-- Rainbow Connections
Hostility is not the road
The proper basic human code
Chauvinist intolerance is what we loathe
Let's embrace diversity
By first rejecting bigotry
There’s no more room left in society for animosity

We refuse to look away
And ignore issues at bay
We will conquer the hurdles in our way (We are warriors)
(We are warriors)
We won't take shit anymore
A pebble cuts right to the core
All these excuses, what are they for? (We are warriors)
We are warriors

We are warriors
We are warriors
We are warriors
We are warriors
We are warriors

--Warriors by Bad Cop/Bad Cop

Let’s organize our lives around love and care.

Mission

We exist for the direct support and mutual aid of neurodivergent and disabled people.

We serve our loved people so we can keep on living through the onslaught.

Creed

I center the marginalized and the different. I center edge cases, because edge cases are stress cases and design is tested at the edges. I center neurodivergent and disabled experience in service to all bodyminds.

A disembodied arm with blue skin and a self-care tattoo flashes the sign of the horns

Covenant

We pledge to act and interact in ways that contribute to an open, welcoming, diverse, inclusive, and healthy community.

Two human side silhouette positioned Face to face overlaid with various semi-transparent line connected circular (network node) shapes.

Philosophy

We steer by these acquired phrases. They are compasses and stars that align us on our mission.

Rainbow woven cloth evoking our diversity and interdependence

Interdependence

It is time to celebrate our interdependence. Interdependence acknowledges that our survival is bound up together, that we are interconnected and what you do impacts others. Interdependence is the only way out of most of the most pressing issues we face today.

The many forms of difference. Adaptive Behavior Assessment (ABAS-3), Adult ADHD Self-report Scale (ASRS-v1.1), and Behavior Rating Inventory Executive Function (BRIEF 2) forms spread across a wooden table

Edges

Our designs, our societies, and the boundaries of our compassion are tested at the edges, where the truths told are of bias, inequality, injustice, and thoughtlessness.

Let's organize our lives around love and care
Let's write each other letters and call it prayer
Let's congregate in the place that isn't anywhere
At the temple of broken dreams
A glowing earth-like sphere colored liked a rainbow spectrum color wheel

Published by Ryan Boren

#ActuallyAutistic retired technologist turned wannabe-sociologist. Equity literate education, respectfully connected parenting, passion-based learning, indie ed-tech, neurodiversity, social model of disability, design for real life, inclusion, open web, open source. he/they