/ploor"euh liz'euhm/, n.1. Philos.a. a theory that there is more than one basic substance or principle. Cf. dualism (def. 2), monism (def. 1a).b. a theory that reality consists of two or more independent elements.2. Eccles.a. the holding by one person of two or more offices at the same time.b. plurality (def. 7a).3. Sociol. See cultural pluralism.4. state or quality of being plural.[1810-20; PLURAL + -ISM]
* * *IWhereas monists such as Parmenides, Benedict de Spinoza, and G.W.F. Hegel maintain that reality consists of only one ultimate substance, pluralists assert that reality consists of manifold entities of many different types and that the diversity of things is more striking and important than their unity. In A Pluralistic Universe (1909), William James held that it is characteristic of empirically minded thinkers to note the changeability of things, the multiplicity of their being and their relations with one another, and the unfinished character of the world.IIIn political science, the view that in liberal democracies power is (or should be) dispersed among a variety of economic and ideological pressure groups and is not (or should not be) held by a single elite or group of elites.Pluralism assumes that diversity is beneficial to society and that the disparate functional or cultural groups of which society is composedincluding religious groups, trade unions, professional organizations, and ethnic minoritiesshould be autonomous. Pluralism was stressed most vigorously during the early 20th century by a group of English writers that included Frederic W. Maitland and Harold J. Laski; it was defended in the later 20th century by the American scholars Robert Dahl and David B. Truman.
* * *▪ politicsin political science, the view that in liberal democracies power is (or should be) dispersed among a variety of economic and ideological pressure groups and is not (or should not be) held by a single elite or group of elites. Pluralism assumes that diversity is beneficial to society and that autonomy should be enjoyed by disparate functional or cultural groups within a society, including religious groups, trade unions, professional organizations, and ethnic minorities.Pluralism was stressed most vigorously in England during the early 20th century by a group of writers that included Frederic Maitland (Maitland, Frederic William), Samuel G. Hobson, Harold Laski (Laski, Harold Joseph), Richard H. Tawney (Tawney, Richard Henry), and George Douglas Howard Cole, who reacted against what they alleged to be the alienation of the individual under conditions of unrestrained capitalism. It was necessary, they argued, to integrate the individual in a social context that would give him a sense of community, and they pointed to the medieval structure of guilds (guild), chartered cities, villages, monasteries, and universities as an example of such a society. Pluralists argued that some of the negative aspects of modern industrial society might be overcome by economic and administrative decentralization.
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