Liberal Pluralism: The Implications of Value Pluralism for Political Theory and Practice

Liberal Pluralism: The Implications of Value Pluralism for Political Theory and Practice

Liberal Pluralism: The Implications of Value Pluralism for Political Theory and Practice

Liberal Pluralism: The Implications of Value Pluralism for Political Theory and Practice

Synopsis

William Galston is a distinguished political philosopher whose work is informed by the experience of having served from 1993-1995 as President Clinton's Deputy Assistant for Domestic Policy. Isaiah Berlin first advanced the moral theory of value pluralism in the 1950s and it subsequently was developed by a number of distinguisthed scholars, including Galston. In Liberal Pluralism, Galston defends a version of value pluralism for political theory and practice. Against the contentions of John Gray and others, Galston argues that value pluralism undergirds a kind of liberal politics that gives great weight to the ability of individuals and groups to live their lives in accordance with their deepest beliefs about what gives meaning and purpose to life. This account of liberal pluralism is shown to have important implications for political deliberation and decision-making, for the design of public institutions, and for the division of legitimate authority among government, religious institutions, civil society, parents and families, and individuals. Liberal pluralism leads to a vision of a good society in which political institutions are active in a limited sphere and in which, within broad limits, families and civil associations may organize and conduct themselves in ways that are not congruent with the principles that govern the public sphere. William Galston is Professor, School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland and Director at the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy. He is the author of Liberal Purposes (Cambridge, 1991), which won the Spitz Prize. Galston's other books include Justice and the Human Good (Chicago, 1980) and IKant and the Problem of History (Chicago, 1975). He is also a Senior Advisor to the Democratic Leadership Council and the Progressive Policy Institute.

Excerpt

Let me begin by stating what I believe it means to be a liberal, in the theoretical, not political, sense of the term.

Liberalism requires a robust though rebuttable presumption in favor of individuals and groups leading their lives as they see fit, within a broad range of legitimate variation, in accordance with their own understanding of what gives life meaning and value. I call this presumption the principle of expressive liberty. This principle implies a corresponding presumption (also rebuttable) against external interference with individual and group endeavors.

To create a secure space within which individuals and groups may lead their lives, public institutions are needed. Liberal public institutions may restrict the activities of individuals and groups for four kinds of reasons: first, to reduce coordination problems and conflict among diverse legitimate activities and to adjudicate such conflict when it cannot be avoided; second, to prevent and when necessary punish transgressions individuals may commit against one another; third, to guard the boundary separating legitimate from illegitimate variations among ways of life; and finally, to secure the conditions — including cultural and civic conditions — needed to sustain public institutions over time. Specifying the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.