Arts & International Affairs: Volume 3, Issue 1, Spring 2018 - Page 82

ARTS & INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Conclusion So, in terms of cultural relations, I may come across (or be forced by circumstance to live with) people with a very different form of life. The attitudes and actions I take towards these people are determined by my form of life, and to some extent by theirs. There may be a great deal of room for discussion and negotiation between our forms of life, or relatively little. Whatever efforts we make towards solving the problems of plurality will necessarily be determined by the substances and interactions of our forms of life. This is a real problem, in that it can tell me nothing about how I am to approach others. Each time I wonder what to do, I am directed back to my form of life, to the practices and be- liefs of my community, in all their tangled glory. How does all of this now relate back to pluralism? The concern is how we can live to- gether despite the fact that we appear to have value systems that are incompatible, in the sense that they cannot be put into place simultaneously, and incommensurable, in the sense that we have no way to decide which system is the best. If we are committed to avoiding chaos (the inability to make laws and policies due to disagreement) and also to avoiding oppression (a situation in which someone is forced to obey laws that he or she rejects as immoral and unjust), the plurality of value judgments appears to pose a grave problem for social cooperation. We are merely left to make our way as best we can, using our existing normative and political resources. It seems obvious, however, that pluralism does leave open some avenues of cooperation. To the extent that individuals or ways of life contingently share some (or many) values, they will be able to cooperate on the basis of moral principle. Societies and individu- als who do not find themselves in such substantive agreement would be able to pursue a Hobbesian modus vivendi—cooperation inspired by each participant’s self-interest. Some societies would probably combine these two strategies, seeking principled agree- ment in some areas and a cooperation born of enlightened self-interest in others. That sounds like the practice of international relations. With luck, perhaps those thin bases of cooperation could be modified or strengthened over time, by the creation of interpersonal and cultural ties, the emergence of institutions that many people value for different reasons, or a change in people’s views due to a gradual convergence born of mutual respect. Thus, instead of the traditional philosophical goal of political cooperation bounded by moral obligations, and instead of a mere Hobbesian ceasefire among mutually hostile parties, we could achieve a kind of layered pluralism, in which individuals and societies cooperate in a wide variety of ways, for a variety of reasons, some resting on moral du- ties, others on support for institutions, and yet others on various kinds of self-interest. We should also, whether we wish to find common ground or identify common interest, refrain from making claims about our values that undermine these goals. We should not, for example, proclaim that we will take action to force others to accept them as they are universally valid. There may be much to be dissatisfied with in such a vision, but that may be the world in which we find ourselves. 82