Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

A Liberal Pluralism: Isaiah Berlin and John Stuart Mill


The essay explores the relationship between value pluralism, as Isaiah Berlin understood it, and liberalism. It consists of two main parts. In the first part, I argue that value pluralism does not entail liberalism, and I criticize two philosophers—William Galston and George Crowder—who believe that it does. In the second, I reconstruct and defend Isaiah Berlin's own understanding of this relationship, drawing on an essay that is often neglected by Berlin's interpreters: “John Stuart Mill and the Ends of Life.” Berlin thought that the relationship between value pluralism and liberalism was largely psychological. He believed that those who embraced value pluralism would be more likely to affirm liberal institutions, because they would be more likely to exhibit certain virtues—notably empathy, imagination, and openness to other ways of life—that typically motivate tolerance.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Robert Talisse , “Can Value Pluralists be Comprehensive Liberals? Galston's Liberal Pluralism,” Contemporary Political Theory 3, no. 2 (2004): 131

Alex Zakaras , “Isaiah Berlin's Cosmopolitan Ethics,” Political Theory 32, no. 4 (2004): 495518

Matthew Moore , “Pluralism, Relativism, and Liberalism,” Political Research Quarterly 62, no. 2 (2009): 250–51

William Galston , “Liberal Pluralism: A Reply to Talisse,” Contemporary Political Theory 3, no. 2 (2004): 144

Isaiah Berlin and Bernard Williams , “Pluralism and Liberalism: A Reply,” Political Studies 42, no. 2 (1994): 308

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Review of Politics
  • ISSN: 0034-6705
  • EISSN: 1748-6858
  • URL: /core/journals/review-of-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 9
Total number of PDF views: 31 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 205 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 23rd June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.