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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019) and AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021).

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Pluralism as a sign of strength

In (re-)reading Max Charlesworth's lovely little book Bioethics in a Liberal Society, I came across a paragraph in which the author discusses feminism - this is in the context of different feminist attitudes to assisted reproduction. While some of those attitudes strike me as irrational and and generally deplorable (there are plenty of feminist bio-Luddites around), Charlesworth does make a nice point about the sheer diversity of positions.

Rather than seeing the diversity as showing incoherence within the feminist movement, we can see it positively. Charlesworth suggests that it is an index of the maturity of any movement that it has moved beyond a single monolithic view, to accept and even welcome a variety of views and positions. This is, he says, a sign of diversity and strength.

Charlesworth's suggestion is worth recalling when we encounter disagreement from people who are generally our allies and share many common values with us. We should be open to different views and positions from them, as long as it does not get to the point when they disagree on so many specific issues that we can no longer think of them as allies at all. Perhaps transhumanism is reaching a point, after its development in the 1980s, where it is now something far less monolithic and a variety of views and positions can now be found within the broad movement - showing that it has matured and gained strength.

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