We may interpret differently the effects a particular conflict-resolution has on our tradition or conception of a good life, and these interpretations may also produce conflicts. For conflicts and many of our reactions to them betoken human imperfections rather than tell against there being a summum bonum. The point they insist on is that rankings are reasonable Six Theses of Pluralism. According to it, good lives depend on both personal satisfaction and moral merit, and personal satisfaction depends on the realization of both moral and nonmoral values. Plural values are often so related that the realization of one entirely or partly excludes the realization of the other. Values in general are understood as benefits whose possession would make a life better than it would be without them and whose lack would make a life worse than it would otherwise be. Given this restriction, then, we may illustrate the plurality of values by drawing a number of distinctions regarding the benefits and harms that normally affect human beings.
The monistic view is that individuality involves plurality in the ways of reaching the one life good for all. It is the very idea of there being any value of which it would be reasonable to suppose that, in normal circumstance, it should always take precedence over all other values that pluralists oppose. He believes that solutions may vary with lives and contexts and still be rational. The substance of the pluralistic claim about the plurality of values is provided, first, by the distinctions between primary and secondary, moral and nonmoral, and naturally occurring and humanly caused values; second, by the diversity of benefits and harms within these different types of values; and third, by the multiplicity of traditions and conceptions of a good life in whose contexts we endeavor to realize these values. The dispute is whether moral judgments are normally appropriate.
In agreement with relativists and in disagreement with monists, however, pluralists deny that there is a uniquely reasonable conception of a good life embodying something like the one true system of values. But what if the people we face are unreasonable? It frequently happens that we are confronted with having to choose between courses of action that morality prohibits. The distinction required setting a limit on the importance that may be attributed to any one kind of value or combination of values, and the limit was drawn by separating conditional from overriding values. Good lives are made rather than found , he insists, simply because without overriding values for human life, the possibilities of a good life are highly variable. Circumstances would have to be exceptional for it not to be harmful for us to be tortured, maimed, or deprived of our legitimate livelihood, and it requires similarly unusual events for physical security, the availability of opportunities, or being justly appreciated not to be beneficial.
To this end, we have distinguished between primary and secondary values. One is that what is regarded as beneficial or harmful often depends on conceptions of a good life that reason allows but does not require us to hold. It would be a mistake, therefore, to diagnose the source of moral confusion as the liberal tendency not to count as moral what conservatives count as such. The main point is not the label, but what it signifies. What makes some moral values primary is that they are benefits and harms human beings cause one another and their status as benefits and harms derives from the universal facts of human nature not from the context of particular traditions or conceptions of a good life.
He painstakingly analyzes the radicality of moral conflict, which cannot be masked by resort to facile monisms. The issue between relativism and pluralism, however, is more complex than this. The strategy for resolving conflicts will be to transform them from conflicts of values to conflicts about the means of resolving conflicts. We may identify moral values, then, as humanly caused values in which the benefits and harms affect primarily others. It is crucial to understand that what incommensurability excludes is the possibility of ranking values which meets two requirements: the ranking must be based on characteristics intrinsic to the values being ranked, and the ranking has to be acceptable to all reasonable people.
The point, however, is that they will be different forms of the same content, different interpretations of the same universal human facts, different attempts at civilizing the same primitive urges. The issue is more complicated, because pluralists include among the values deep conventions ought to aim to protect not only primary ones but some secondary values as well. This possibility is that of criticizing or justifying specific traditions and conceptions of a good life not on the ground that they violate or protect the minimum requirements of all conceptions of a good life but on the ground that they are faulty or successful in fostering good lives beyond the minimum level. Liberals are not being consistent, then, when they do not recognize that there simply are some procedural values, such as the legal protection of human rights, about which the state cannot be neutral. For the conflicts among interpretations are amenable to resolution in precisely the same way as other conflicts are. And enjoying universally human benefits and avoiding harms that are injurious for all human beings are no 46. If I want to have a lucrative job and the freedom to dispose of my time but cannot have them both, what should I do? For instance, we can be conventionalists about the forms of killing we recognize as murder or the forms of child rearing we regard as acceptable, but we cannot reasonably deny, as radical relativists mistakenly do, that it is a minimum requirement of all conceptions of a good life that lives must be protected from undeserved destruction or that someone must take responsibility for the raising of children.
We shall refer to pluralism as a moral theory, interpreted in the broad sense, mainly to stress the connection between morality and good lives, even though good lives admittedly have a nonmoral dimension. We should recognize, therefore, that personal satisfaction may derive from the realization of both moral and nonmoral values, and, consequently, living a good life—whose achievement is the aim of pluralism—is not entirely a question of moral good and evil. It is essential to understanding the kinds of conflicts that concern pluralists that the conflicting values are both incompatible and incommensurable. But they are not sufficiently serious to force us to embrace the relativistic view that all values are ultimately subjective preferences, and thus to compel us to accept the conclusion that our morality itself is disintegrating. Chapter Two ties, and this requires us to find some way of reasonably comparing, ranking, or balancing the claims of the plural and conflicting possibilities we value. As a result, it can perhaps recognize moral progress within traditions and conceptions of a good life, but it cannot answer such questions as, for instance, whether the contemporary Western tradition is morally better or worse than China under Mao, the Soviet Union under Stalin, or Turkey under Ataturk. This account of the relevant type of conflicts must be understood in the light of several clarifications.
The conditionality of values means that there is no value or combination of a few values that may not be defeated by some other value that is more important than it in that context. Suicide, for instance, is said to be morally wrong because the deliberate killing of a human being is wrong. Deep conventions protect the minimum requirements of all good lives, however they are conceived. In both cases, evils are harms inflicted on human beings, but moral evils are harms inflicted by human beings on other human beings, while nonmoral evils are either harms inflicted by us on ourselves or harms produced by nonhuman causes. Readers are asked, therefore, to excuse the several references to these other books. Their compatibility depends also on whether or not the intrinsic qualities of the values exclude each other. For instance, the primary value of the self requires an interpretation that specifies the acceptable forms that pleasure, the satisfaction of physiological needs, and the employment of our capacities may take; the primary value of intimacy must similarly involve the specification of the kinds of sexual practices, child-rearing arrange- Plurality and Conditionality.
The best explanation of these conflicts is that the conflicting plural and conditional values are incompatible and incommensurable. Chapter Two more important from the point of view of the system of values as a whole. This distinction is neither sharper nor clearer than the previous one. The decentering and dethroning of established authority are hailed as paths of liberation from the injustices of the past. Having a restful sleep and engaging in an interesting conversation are entirely incompatible, while political activism and solitude are partly so.
One source of the appeal of pluralism is that it concentrates on the possibilities whose realization may make lives good, and it thereby wishes for us what we wish for ourselves. Yet no part, no single tradition, can claim a superior vantage point for viewing the whole. Opposed to this is the claim that moral considerations apply only if the victim is someone else; how people dispose of their lives is, in normal circumstances, entirely up to them. The strategy behind this monistic argument is to look at how the world appears to human observers and then argue that appearances are deceptive. Conflicts are conflicts for persons. We are facing moral disintegration, it is said, because so many of our conflicts are about the appropriateness of moral considerations. If deep conventions were interpreted merely as having the purpose of protecting individuals in their pursuit of primary values, then the argument against relativism would need to point out merely that these values derive from aspects of human nature that all normal members of our species share.