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Pluralism and Liberal Democracy

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Pluralism and Liberal Democracy

In Pluralism and Liberal Democracy one of the country's most distinguished political theorists turns to the task of how best to explain, justify, and encourage the concept, practice, and institutionalization of pluralism. By examining and analyzing the accounts and explanations of four philosophers—William James, Hannah Arendt, Stuart Hampshire, and Michael Oakeshott—Richard E. Flathman augments the theories of pluralism most familiar to students and scholars of politics and political theory.

Flathman delves into a number of writings by and about these philosophers, weaving their philosophical theories into the ideology of liberalism. Among the works he studies are James's Some Problems of Philosophy, Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hampshire's Freedom of Mind, and Oakeshott's On Human Conduct.

Flathman finds that pluralism's relation to liberalism has been challenged by the recent emergence of pluralities widely thought to threaten states and societies—such as separatist and secessionist movements. The tension between the desire for unity and the embrace of diversity has created vigorous disagreement about the nature of pluralism and its relation to liberalism. The philosophers studied here embrace these conflicts and challenges, further invigorating a political concept Flathman regards as a centerpiece of liberalism.