Value pluralism  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

In philosophical ethics, value pluralism (also known as ethical pluralism or moral pluralism) is the idea that there are several values which may be equally correct and fundamental, and yet in conflict with each other. In addition, value-pluralism postulates that in many cases, such incompatible values may be incommensurable, in the sense that there is no objective ordering of them in terms of importance.

Value-pluralism is a theory in metaethics, rather than a theory of normative ethics, or a set of values in itself. Oxford philosopher and historian of ideas, Isaiah Berlin, is credited with being the first to write a substantial work describing the theory of value-pluralism, bringing it to the attention of academia. (cf. the Isaiah Berlin Virtual Library). However, the idea that fundamental values can, and in some cases, do conflict with each other is prominent in the thought of Max Weber, captured in his notion of 'polytheism'.

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