- Absolutism, Relativism and Anarchy: Alain Locke and William James on Value Pluralism
- Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society: A Quarterly Journal in American Philosophy
- Indiana University Press
- Volume 53, Number 3, Summer 2017
- pp. 400-424
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- Additional Information
This paper aims to compare the pluralistic theories of James and Locke on the three criteria by which Locke proposes that any pluralistic axiology should be assessed: normativity, objectivity and loyalty. A pluralistic account of value must be able to account for the normativity of particular value systems without appealing to universal standards. It must be able to provide some objective ground for value so that different values can be constructively compared across cultures, without becoming monistic. And it must provide an account which still allows people to find their particular values meaningful and motivating, whilst at the same time encouraging tolerance for differing values. The conclusion of the paper will be that, despite Locke's accusation of anarchism, James's appeal to a limited form of realism means that his theory is better placed to meet these three criteria.