In the social sciences, pluralism is a framework of interaction in which groups show sufficient respect and tolerance of each other, that they fruitfully coexist and interact without conflict or assimilation.
Pluralism is arguably one of the most important features of modern societies and social groups, and may be a key driver of progress in science, society and economic development.
In an authoritarian or oligarchic society, power is concentrated and decisions are made by few members. By contrast, in a pluralistic society, power and decision-making (and the ownership of the results of exercising power) are more diffused. It is believed that this results in more widespread participation and a greater feeling of commitment from society members, and therefore better outcomes. Examples of groups and situations where pluralism is important are: a firm, a political body and an economy, the scientific community.
It can be argued that the pluralistic nature of the scientific process is a major factor in the rapid growth of knowledge. In turn, knowledge growth arguably leads to increased human welfare, due to, for example, greater productivity and economic growth and better medical technology.
However, pluralism also arguably denies the existence of a single universal truth , and therefore by its very nature it can be considered an attempt to unintentionally invalidate many of the very creeds it proports to be attempting to have co-exist (such as the secular notion of women's rights coupled with acceptance of strict Islamic conventions against parity between men and women).
From Pluralist to Patriotic Politics: Putting Practice First, Blattberg, Charles. Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 0198296886.
- Ethics: A Pluralistic Approach to Moral Theory, 2nd ed, Lawrence M. Hinman, Harcourt Brace, 1998.
- The Open Society and its Enemies, Karl Popper, Routledge, 1945.