Monistic Ideals, Plural Values, and the Limits of Philosophy

17 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2013

See all articles by David Sidorsky

David Sidorsky

Department of Philosophy, Columbia University


There cannot be a complete prescription for a good society and any set of values that are projected as a blueprint for a society will require revision, amendment and compromise, as well as limitations and extensions in their application to social and political reality. Limits to both the speed and the scope of social change must be justified in light of the large number of values, including many tacit values, that are operational or necessary for the functioning of any society. This paper explores, in particular, the tradeoff between the four values of individual freedom, consent of the governed, free markets, and economic development as well as tradeoffs between equality and justice. The limits of philosophy are drawn when such conceptual analysis seeks to arrive at resolutions of the conflict among plural values. The recurrent thesis has been that the priority among values held at the time and under the circumstances of decision-making, as well as the empirical facts available to decision-makers, provide the reasons for a decision among conflicting values.

Suggested Citation

Sidorsky, David, Monistic Ideals, Plural Values, and the Limits of Philosophy. Capitalism & Society, Vol. 8, Issue 2, Article 2, 2013, Available at SSRN:

David Sidorsky (Contact Author)

Department of Philosophy, Columbia University ( email )

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