Configurations of Pluralisms. Navigating Polyphony and Diversity in Philosophy and Beyond.

In Keith Stenning & Martin Stokhof (eds.), Rules, Regularities, Randomness. Festschrift for Michiel van Lambalgen. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Institute for Logic, Language and Computation. pp. 87-99 (2022)
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In western philosophy and beyond, a tension between pluralism and monism has sparked many developments and debates. Pluralism of norms, of forms of knowledge, of aesthetic and moral values, of interests etc. has often been pitted against monism. Monism usually implies a hierarchical order of such norms etc. After having traced the origin of this tension between pluralism and monism in ancient tragedy and philosophy, I’m asking in this article whether a rejection of monism and embrace of pluralism necessarily raises the specter of inconsistency and contradiction. The threat of inconsistency need not be associated with pluralism as even with regard to logic an argument can be made for a ‘multiplicity of logics’, as van Lambalgen and Stenning argue in several places. They refer to the varieties in reasoning that can be observed in humans and which are partly due to there being ‘dual systems’ of reasoning: System 1 processes information fast, automatized, and emotional, while System 2 is rather slow, more deliberative, and more rational. In contrast to a widely held view, the authors argue that System 1 processing is not without logic, even though it is a different form of logic from System 2. In addition, the multiplicity of logics they discuss is related to the multiple semantics required for distinct domains of reasoning. This perspective raises the subsequent question how this pluralism can be available while maintaining consistency, how should the available options be configured or related to each other? In the remainer of this chapter I’m addressing several such options for configurating pluralism like: non-foundational pluralism and foundational pluralism, moderate or temporary pluralism, antagonistic pluralism, incompatible pluralism, incommensurable pluralism, ‘Anything goes’ pluralism, complementary pluralism, integrative pluralism, and interactive pluralism. The discussion and examples of these options show that irrespective of its domain, the encounter with different configurations of pluralism shows how some forms of pluralism are likely to be productive, whereas others are less so - which is an important lesson given the prominent pluralism of pluralisms in philosophy and beyond.

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Machiel Keestra
University of Amsterdam


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