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The Morality of Pluralism
John Kekes

Paperback | 1996 | $52.50 | £44.95 | ISBN: 9780691044743
238 pp. | 7 3/4 x 10
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400821105 |
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Controversies about abortion, the environment, pornography, AIDS, and similar issues naturally lead to the question of whether there are any values that can be ultimately justified, or whether values are simply conventional. John Kekes argues that the present moral and political uncertainties are due to a deep change in our society from a dogmatic to a pluralistic view of values. Dogmatism is committed to there being only one justifiable system of values. Pluralism recognizes many such systems, and yet it avoids a chaotic relativism according to which all values are in the end arbitrary. Maintaining that good lives must be reasonable, but denying that they must conform to one true pattern, Kekes develops and justifies a pluralistic account of good lives and values, and works out its political, moral, and personal implications.


"Kekes's articulation of pluralism has a powerful suppleness. The consequences of adopting such an understanding of pluralism in the political sphere are genuinely thought-provoking."--Stephen Mulhall, The Times Literary Supplement

"In this eloquent work, Kekes proposes an apology for moral pluralism.... He painstakingly analyzes the radicality of moral conflict, which cannot be masked by resort to facile monisms. Further, he carefully sketches a reasonable approach to the practical resolution of value conflicts in the individual and the political orders. . . . [H]e provides a remarkable analysis of moral imagination as the locus of possible moral and aesthetic values, the rich horizon of our actual pluralism."--John J, Conley, S.J., Theological Studies

"Kekes's presentation of pluralism is the first sustained account of an important new moral theory and a formidable attempt to refute the claim that `our morality is disintegrating.'"--Choice


"Kekes's book is a study of a neglected and profoundly crucial issue in political thought: the nature and presuppositions of ethical pluralism and its implications for political philosophy. The contribution it makes to reflection on this issue is subtle, original, and of the first importance."--John Gray, Jesus College, University of Oxford

Table of Contents:

Ch. 1 Introduction: Setting the Stage 3
Ch. 2 The Six Theses of Pluralism 17
Ch. 3 The Plurality and Conditionality of Values 38
Ch. 4 The Unavoidability of Conflicts 53
Ch. 5 The Nature of Reasonable Conflict-Resolution 76
Ch. 6 The Possibilities of Life 99
Ch. 7 The Need for Limits 118
Ch. 8 The Prospects for Moral Progress 139
Ch. 9 Some Moral Implications of Pluralism: On There Being Some Limits Even to Morality 161
Ch. 10 Some Personal Implications of Pluralism: Innocence Lost and Regained 179
Ch. 11 Some Political Implications of Pluralism: The Conflict with Liberalism 199
Works Cited 219
Index 225

Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by John Kekes:

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Hardcover published in 1993

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