Components of a Critical Pluralism: Ethics and Processes

David Schlosberg

in Environmental Justice and the New Pluralism

Published in print August 2002 | ISBN: 9780199256419
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600203 | DOI:
Components of a Critical Pluralism: Ethics and Processes

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The acceptance of multiplicity as the precondition of political action is central to the new generation of theorists and activists that the author designates as ‘critical pluralists’. In political and social theory, a range of authors has finally begun to respond to a lament broached by Mary Parker Follett in 1918: pluralists early in the century had acknowledged difference, she noted, but they had not arrived at the heart of the question – what is to be done with this diversity? This chapter examines some of the contemporary responses to Follett’s question and constructs a list of practices necessary to build political relations across difference. These get at issues of justice beyond the material, concerning both recognition and participatory process, and it is argued that agonistic respect (William Connolly 1991), attempts at intersubjective understanding (Seyla Benhabib 1992; Jurgen Habermas 1970; Axel Honneth 1992), inclusive, open discourse free from domination and the possibility of reprisals (John Dryzek 1990; John Forester 1989; Habermas 1984, 1987), and the development of a particular form of solidarity are all crucial to the practices suggested by a new generation of pluralist theory. Solidarity (unity without uniformity) is complex in that it centres on the process of reconciling difference with the need for concerted political action. The author focuses on how the notion of unity suggested by Follett was discarded by the second generation of pluralism, but is now mirrored by numerous contemporary theorists, including Richard Rorty (1989), Donna Haraway (1991), and Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (1987).

Keywords: agonistic respect; Axel Honneth; critical pluralism; difference; diversity; Donna Haraway; ethics; Felix Guattari; Gilles Deleuze; inclusive discourse; intersubjectivity; John Dryzek; John Forester; Jurgen Habermas; justice; Mary Parker Follett; multiplicity; open discourse; participation; political action; political relations; processes; recognition; Richard Rorty; Seyla Benhabib; solidarity; theory; unity; WilliamConnolly

Chapter.  14502 words. 

Subjects: Environment

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