Arts & International Affairs: Volume 3, Issue 1, Spring 2018 - Page 79

VALUES AND PLURALISM IN INTERNATIONAL CULTURAL RELATIONS counter-sanctions, which would align it more with Western ideas of “hard power” or “smart power” (Rutland and Kazantsev 2016). Moral language gets its meaning, and moral claims their truth or falsity, by reference to one’s form of life. If a form of life is internally complex or fragmented—if, for example, it contains conflicting religious traditions—then it may well contain values that conflict. To the extent that an individual participates in multiple such traditions, she or he may personally hold values that, upon reflection, are both incompatible and incommensura- ble with one another. For the same reasons, it is possible that different groups of human beings will have dif- ferent forms of life. Groups may disagree not only on the content of moral values, but perhaps even on the grammar of expressing them. If we find ourselves confronted with apparent value plurality, it is possible that the only possible basis of eventual agreement is if we find that we share enough of a form of life to ground a common meaning or un- derstanding. There is no reason to believe that such agreement must always be available, and persistent disagreement is itself evidence that we do not share enough of a form of life to agree on these questions. To the extent that our value terms have conflicting meanings—or that our value systems rank shared meanings in different ways—value will indeed be plural among us. Plurality Precisely because we lack a metaphysical vantage point, we have only the way words are used as evidence of their meaning. This gives rise to two ideas: (1) that a plurality of values and interests appears to be inevitable; and (2) that this plurality gives rise to a normative obligation to toleration. Grappling with the strange and difficult ways of oth- er forms of life suggests an implicit commitment to toleration. We can hear competing perspectives, and we can still make choices. Our lives with others do not have to amount to a zero-sum game; our choices do not have to reduce the other to unintelligibility. We can live by values other than the principle of agreement with oneself (Zerilli 2012). Sim- ilarly, Lawrence Hinman argues: “There is no absolute form of life in relation to which the validity of particular forms of life may be determined, yet the task which confronts us is the creation of a form of life in which contemporary competing forms of life can find their true expression” (1983:351). If values really are conventional, and therefore relative to particular forms of life, there is no reason to think that all forms of life will hold liberal or tolerant values. There is no rea- son to think that all forms of life will see these views as positive—it seems perfectly plau- sible that there will be forms of life that reject liberal and tolerant views, and of course we know from experience that that is so, one has only to think of ISIS, but the list is long. Nor is there any reason to think that all forms of life will respond to the fact of pluralism, including increased forms of pluralism in liberal societies themselves, by adopting an 79