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  • Author: Peter Jonkers x
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How to Respond to Conflicts Over Value Pluralism?

Abstract

This paper starts with arguing that the main reason why value pluralism has become conflictual is that it challenges people’s socio-cultural identity. The next section gives a summary of recent sociological research on socio-cultural tensions and conflicts in the Netherlands and Europe. They are closely linked to “globalization issues,” such as cosmopolitism, immigration, and cultural integration. This shows that the prediction of the modernization theory, according to which substantial socio-cultural values would be replaced by a universalist, procedural ethics, has not come true. The third section discusses the philosophical reasons of the potentially conflictual character of today’s value pluralism: the fragility of socio-cultural identity, the spread of the culture of expressive individualism and the ethics of authenticity, and the influence of the (politics of) recognition of socio-cultural differences. The fourth section discusses two philosophical responses to the conflictual character of value pluralism. First, there is Taylor’s plea for a broadening of our socio-cultural horizon and a transformation of our common standards of (value-)judgments, based on his idea of a fusion of cultural horizons. In spite of its obvious merits, Taylor underestimates the degree of cultural distance that characterizes many instances of value pluralism. Second, there is an idea of cultural hospitality, which is an application of Ricoeur’s idea of linguistic hospitality to the cultural sphere. It is more modest than Taylor’s proposal, since it recognizes the unbridgeable gap that separates different cultures and their values. Another even more modest suggestion to diminish the conflictual character of value pluralism is the virtue of tolerance, which combines the idea that I have good reasons for my value attachments with the recognition that my values are not the completion of the ideal of human existence.

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