The Crucifix Dispute and Value Pluralism


This article seeks to interpret the striking divergence between the two judgments passed by the European Court of Human Rights in the Lautsi v Italy case in terms of value pluralism. The latter is a hotly debated position in ethics, brought to life in the second half of the twentieth century by Isaiah Berlin. Pluralism elucidates these in interesting ways. First, value pluralism sheds light on three major aspects of the trial before the European Court of Human Rights: the nature of the collision of values, the discrepancy between the two decisions, and the rationale of the final judgment. Secondly, this is my thesis that while the first judgment fits ethical monism, which underlies Dworkin’s ‘one right answer’ theory, the second ruling chimes with pluralism. The pluralist spirit of the Grand Chamber’s final decision turned Europe away from the path of Americanization.

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The Journal is devoted to the fundamental issues of empirical and normative social theory, and is directed at social scientists and social philosophers who combine commitment to political and moral enlightenment with argumentative rigour and conceptual clarity. Published articles develop social theorizing in connection with analytical philosophy and philosophy of science.