RESPECTING PLURALISM: THE VALUE OF BEING VALUE-NEUTRAL
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Accepting radical pluralism as fact, cooperation between people with deeply opposing moral values and beliefs is necessary to coexist peacefully. This thesis builds on Chantal Mouffe’s criticisms to argue that John Rawls’s politically liberal approach to establishing a stable, well-ordered, and fair society amongst radically pluralistic people leaves hegemonies unnamed, making them incontestable, legitimizing justifications for actions that perpetuate systems of oppression, and inciting antiestablishment sentiments. Focusing on the dangers of hiding the political under a veil of “neutral” reason, it is shown that while conflict must indeed be made visible, the kind of constant conflict that Mouffe defends must be qualified with decency to maintain a harmonious enough relationship for continued cooperation. To fill in this lacuna in Mouffe’s theory, Sungmoon Kim’s analysis of Confucian incivility rooted in ren is explored as a way to engage in confrontation while protecting the possibility of cooperation. In order to show how the need for Mouffe and Confucian ideas return in real world situations, the theoretical discussion is applied to navigating disagreement about the morality of microaggressions. It is concluded that when faced with radically different positions on issues of morality or justice, engaging in visible conflict by employing a kind of reflexive and critical Confucian incivility is necessary for maintaining a cooperative society.