Pluralism and Democracy

Conference at the Centre for Advanced Study in Bioethics

The diversity of worldviews, moral outlooks and ethical commitments is one of modern societies‘ most significant characteristics. This fact of pluralism is considered to be a crucial challenge to democracy as it makes it increasingly difficult to generate agreement even on basic ideas of justice and democracy. What does pluralism require when issues of common concern are subject to political decision-making? What kind of norms should guide democratic politics so that it accounts properly for the challenges of pluralism? The conference Pluralism and Democracy of the Centre for Advanced Study in Bioethics will deal with these questions. It takes place from April 11 to 13, 2013 in the Festsaal of the University of Münster, located at Schlossplatz 5. To register as a participant, please send an email to no later than Thursday, April 4, 2013.


Pluralism and Democracy

The debates of the last twenty years have seen explode the number of theories and approaches dealing with the different facets of pluralism. While the challenge of pluralism has been taken up mostly by liberal theorists, it has become increasingly difficult to discern what the shared foundations and institutions for liberal politics actually are. Furthermore, some contemporary theories seem happy enough to leave the family of liberalism totally behind, searching for more adequate answers to pluralism elsewhere.

The conference sheds light on the current theoretical landscape. Which normative challenges do the relevant approaches take as central? What are the real differences between seemingly contradictory theories such as political liberalism, which endorses a basic consensus about principles of justice, and theories which reject this idea as incompatible with pluralism? How do metaethical or ontological assumptions influence the conceptualization of pluralism, and what follows from this on a normative level? 

The conference aims at fruitful discussions on these matters by providing clarifications, exposing perspectives and identifying further-reaching questions.



Thursday, April 11, 2013
9:30 – 10:45 The Right and the Good – some Metatheoretical Remarks
Elif Özmen (Regensburg)
11:00 – 12:15 Pluralism, Autonomy, and Health Care
Frank Dietrich (Düsseldorf)
13:30 – 14:45 In Need of Common Ground? The Challenge of Pluralism to Political Legitimization
Michael Kühler (Münster)
15:00 – 16:15 We need to talk – On the Extent of Reasonable Pluralism and its Boundaries
Christine Bratu (München)
Coffee break
17:00 – 18:15 A Mid Level Theory of International Justice
Carmen Pavel (Tucson)
Friday, April 12, 2013
9:30 – 10:45 Value Pluralism, Diversity, and Liberalism
George Crowder (Adelaide)
11:00 – 12:15 Concepts of Pluralism as Foundations of Political Theory
Manon Westphal (Münster)
13:30 – 14:45 Legitimacy: Where Justice meets the Law
Wilfried Hinsch (Köln)
15:00 – 16:15 The Normative Implications of Democratic Proceduralism
Fabian Wenner (Münster)
Saturday, April 13, 2013
9:30 – 10:45 Pluralism: Political not Liberal?
Ulrich Willems (Münster)
11:00 – 12:15 The Normative Foundations of Pluralistic Theories and the Institutions of Political Liberalism
Thomas Gutmann (Münster)