A Liberal Pluralism: Isaiah Berlin and John Stuart Mill

THE REVIEW OF POLITICS 75.1 (2013): 69-96

Abstract: 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, the author argues that value pluralism does not entail liberalism, and he criticizes two philosophers—William Galston and George Crowder—who believe that it does. In the second, the author reconstructs 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.