Pluralism Spectrum


The Pluralism Spectrum:


Flabby Pluralism                                       Engaged Pluralism

Flabby Pluralism 

  • Flabby Pluralism “uncritically accepts all perspectives, paradigms, and vocabularies” (Hull, 6). By not encouraging critical and constructive debate flabby pluralism leads to decisions that are detrimental to both our environment and society.

Engaged Pluralism: 

  • Engaged pluralism “accepts multiple perspectives on every issue and replaces the quest for certainty and absolutes with the negotiation of truth and objectivity through agreement” (Hull, 6). By taking in a myriad of viewpoints from different stakeholders Engaged Pluralism allows us to make better informed decisions on social and environmental issues.


Photo of the Upper Klamath River. Source: By user ‘OceanAtoll’ [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

The Klamath River Dam issue is an example of engaged pluralism.

Background:The Klamath River watershed was at the heart of one of the greatest discussions of social and environmental policy over the past few decades, a true example of engaged pluralism. There are many stakeholders who rely on a myriad of different resources that the river provides. The range of uses stakeholders have for the Klamath complicated the issue greatly on how to fix the ailing river. Over a few decades of debate the conclusion has been reached that the irrigation dams will be removed allowing for the free flowing of the river once more. These reclamation projects are slated to begin in 2020 and help restore migrating fish populations such as Salmon and Steelhead as well as protect the stakeholders and other wildlife that rely on them (“Waters” 2019). A current example of eco-speak/flabby pluralism would be the debate over climate change. While 97% of scientists agree that it is occurring and exacerbated by human activity a significant minority of Americans still disagree that it is occurring. Some of this is related to a lack of education on the issues related to climate change while politics and party lines affect others beliefs of humanities affects on our climate.

Further Readings: 

“Waters.” A Vision for the Klamath Basin | Oregon Wild, 23 Apr. 2019,

“Klamath River.” American Rivers, 

Hull, R. Bruce. Infinite Nature. The University of Chicago Press, 2013.