Conservatism on Values - Dictionary of Arguments
Gaus I 133
Values/Conservatism/Kekes/Gaus: Conservatives are committed to political arrangements that foster good lives, so they must have a view about what lives are good, about what obligations, virtues, and satisfactions are worth valuing. They must have a view, that is, about the values that
make lives good. Values, however, appear to be diverse. There are countless obligations, virtues,
and satisfactions, countless ways of combining them and evaluating their respective importance,
and so there seem to be countless ways in which lives can be good. Conservatives, therefore, must
have a view about the diversity of values because it has a fundamental influence on the reasons that can be offered for or against particular political arrangements.
Problems: The problem is that there are three widely held but mutually exclusive views: absolutism, relativism, and pluralism.
Absolutism: Absolutists believe that the diversity of values is apparent, not real. They concede that there are many values, but they think that there is a universal and objective standard that can be appealed to in evaluating their respective importance. >Absolutism/Kekes.
Gaus I 134
Relativism: RelativismVsAbsolutism: Relativists regard the diversity of values as real: there are many values and there are many ways of combining and ranking them. (...) all values, therefore, are context-dependent. >Values/Relativism.
Pluralism: Pluralists are in partial agreement and disagreement with both absolutists and relativists. According to pluralists, there is a universal and objective standard, but it is applicable only to some values. The standard is universal and objective enough to apply to some values that must be recognized by all political arrangements that foster good lives, but it is not sufficiently universal and objective to apply to all the many diverse values that may contribute to good lives. The standard, in other words, is a minimal one. (For accounts of pluralism in general, see Kekes, 1993(1); Rescher, 1993(2).)
1. Kekes, John (1993) The Morality of Pluralism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
2. Rescher, Nicholas (1993) Pluralism. Oscorf: Clarendon.
Kekes, John 2004. „Conservtive Theories“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications_____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Gerald F. Gaus
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004