Relativism vs. Pluralism

Pluralism, a clear fact

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2. Relativism vs. Pluralism

2.1. relativism- hidden dangers

2.2. by definition, truth is absolute and exclusive

2.3. pluralism- a clear fact

2.4. tests for truth

2.5. why truth is so ‘difficult’


2.3. pluralism- a clear fact

Pluralism- a fact and a necessity.

Relativism- an offense to rational thinking, intolerant in itself.


Pluralism is a fact of life, a social fact. We live in a world where there is certainly a plurality of beliefs and worldviews all around us. In a pluralistic society, every individual has a right to his or her own beliefs; everyone has a right to their opinion. Everyone, in effect, has a right to be wrong… Neither the state nor any other entity has the right to coerce those beliefs. Our right to them is one of our foundational liberties. Which leads to the only real meaning of tolerance. Dick Keyes in his article ‘Pluralism, Relativism and Tolerance’ said: “Tolerance is living side by side with others who have real and deep differences with us, but living with respect and civility in our personal attitude, and in public policy.” Even better with love… love for all people, doesn’t matter their beliefs, people who are our equals.

So tolerance is not relativism, it is a necessity and a highly positive contribution to the stability of the pluralistic global society we live in.

Pluralism is definitely not the same thing as relativism, the idea whether beliefs correspond to objective reality remaining fundamentally and exclusively a matter of personal responsibility.

Finally, as Ravi Zacharias pointed out, “relativism is a either a careless mistake, an offense to rational thought or a deliberate philosophical „crime” that makes people confused and veins all their efforts to find any significance for their lives and for the world around.”

Tolerance is absolutely fundamental in our pluralistic world. We must always strive for it because it is rooted in respect for each human being. “Relativism, when confused with pluralism and tolerance, is an inherently misleading and unstable doctrine and is ultimately itself intolerant.” Dick Keyes. (See more on the dangers of relativism, here)

Still, an increasing number of people seem to confuse tolerance -and kindness and courtesy which should always be offered to people- with relativism –that forbids critical thinking and the analysis of ideas- without realizing the dangers they expose themselves to.

(Sources: ‘Pluralism, relativism and tolerance’ Dick Keyes, ‘Can man live without God’ Ravi Zacharias)