Profs Jonathan Wolff and Ali Benmakhlouf speak at AKU-ISMC

The Possibility of Pluralism Series

Profs Jonathan Wolff and Ali Benmakhlouf speak at AKU-ISMC

The Institute was pleased to welcome Profs Jonathan Wolff (University College London) and Ali Benmakhlouf (University of Nice) to the latest of its series of seminars on pluralism​, which was held on February 16, 2007.

Speakers: Ali Benmakhlouf and Jonathan Wolff (left to right)

Prof Benmakhlouf explored the topic of pluralism by examining the approaches to 'conversation'.  His paper discussed an intellectual 'conversation' between the Platonic and Aristotelian philosophical outlooks, a constructed conversation by al-Tawhidi between a grammarian and a logician and Montaigne's approach to conversation as a game to promote hearing, rather than judging. Prof Benmakhlouf concluded that these approaches to conversation illustrated and emphasised, implicitly, the value of exposure to a diversity of views and of pluralism.

Prof Wolff sought to address one of the most prominent issues in contemporary political philosophy, namely the Rawlsian challenge of constructing a just and stable society when members of society may hold reasonable but incompatible doctrines, including religious doctrines.  Prof Wolff explored the particular case of religion, finding that religion both poses particular challenges for the promotion of pluralism on the one hand, but may also possess particular strengths that could enhance pluralism on the other.  Prof Wolff noted that Rawls' conception of 'comprehensive doctrines' seem only to come into battle when these are religious comprehensive doctrines and that, at this stage, perhaps the best that we can do is to seek to achieve a political compromise to these battles, but that, in this effort, religious traditions may provide certain 'special solutions' which may help us to realise this compromise.

Both presenters entertained numerous questions from the audience in what seemed to be a discussion that was getting closer to the core issue(s) around the idea of pluralism.​​