Liberal Value Pluralism: A Study of the Political Ideas of Michael Ignatieff

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dc.contributor.advisor Drury, Shadia
dc.contributor.advisor Rayner, Jeremy Mazenc, Ryan 2012-08-30T15:01:28Z 2012-08-30T15:01:28Z 2012-03
dc.description A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Social and Political Thought, University of Regina. vii, 123 p. en_US
dc.description.abstract This thesis looks at the writings of Michael Ignatieff to try to answer whether the value pluralist philosophy he espouses is compatible with his doctrine of human rights. Value pluralism is a political and ethical philosophy first developed by Isaiah Berlin that believes the values we hold to be plural. This plurality of values is fundamentally irreducible or incommmensurable. In other words, there is no common measure by which we can reliably compare values. A further aspect of value pluralism is that values change and people value different things. That is, values are social and historical. And since values are incommensurable, so too are the different combinations of the things people value. Taken together, this set of beliefs would seem to be something akin to relativism. The difficulty is that Ignatieff also wants to commit to the moral universalism of human rights. He is a strong supporter of military interventions on human rights grounds. Answering this question is important for several reasons. If it does offer a better theoretical model for understanding our moral reality then its implications are broad and fundamental—touching on every question of ethics and politics we make. There are compelling reasons to think this theory is the best available. At the very least, it needs to be properly considered and evaluated. This thesis does not attempt to consider every implication or assumption of value pluralism, but rather to consider the most obvious one: whether value pluralism can be compatible with the ethical universals. This thesis relies primarily on the ideas of Ignatieff because he is considering this problem throughout his writings and offers one of the strongest cases for value pluralism and human rights. When necessary, this thesis also looks directly at the writings of Berlin to supplement its analysis of value pluralism. The first chapter introduces the issue. The second chapter looks at Ignatieff's "lesser evil" argument to both explore what value pluralism is and to show that Ignatieff is a value pluralist. The third chapter considers Ignatieff's argument that values are social and historical. It explores the importance of this view and his belief in the importance of belonging. The fourth chapter considers whether value pluralism can be compatible with the moral universalism of humanitarian intervention. Finally the fifth chapter applies this discussion to the context of the multicultural state. This thesis concludes that despite its seemingly disparate elements, Ignatieff’s writings are not contradictory, but coherent. It will show that value pluralism, with its strong emphasis on incommensurability of cultures and values can still maintain a commitment to universal values. Indeed, it aims to show that when properly understood, value pluralism implies liberalism. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.publisher Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, University of Regina en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Ignatieff, Michael--Political and social views
dc.subject.lcsh Ignatieff, Michael--Views on human rights
dc.subject.lcsh Pluralism
dc.subject.lcsh Cultural pluralism--Political aspects
dc.subject.lcsh Cultural pluralism--Philosophy
dc.subject.lcsh Liberalism--Philosophy
dc.subject.lcsh Liberalism--Moral and ethical aspects
dc.subject.lcsh Human rights
dc.title Liberal Value Pluralism: A Study of the Political Ideas of Michael Ignatieff en_US
dc.type Thesis en
dc.description.authorstatus Student en
dc.description.peerreview yes en Master of Arts (MA) en_US Master's en Social and Political Thought en_US University of Regina en Department of Philosophy and Classics en_US
dc.contributor.committeemember Onder, Nilgun
dc.contributor.committeemember Elliott, David
dc.contributor.externalexaminer Glezos, Simon
dc.identifier.tcnumber TC-SRU-3543

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