And so the ethical pluralist can overcome some of the chief difficulties of ethical relativism, including its logical incoherence and its inability to distinguish between Nobel Peace Prize-winners and the Holocaust. At the same time, however, the ethical pluralist shies away from the sort of intolerance for difference that often follows from ethical absolutism. To recall: the ethical absolutist seems restricted to one and only one set of values and norms that must be interpreted, applied, and practiced the same way by all people in all places and at all times – and so any variation from this one set of norms and practices must be rejected as morally wrong. (In the example of kidney dialysis, a moral absolutist located, say, in the US might then well condemn the practices of the Kabloona as immoral.) By contrast, the ethical pluralist can tolerate – indeed, endorse – these differences in practice, insofar as they can be shown to reflect diverse interpretations and applications of a shared norm or value. In these ways, ethical pluralism seeks to take up at least a limited version of the tolerance for difference enjoined by the ethical relativist, while avoiding a tolerance so complete as to paralyze ethical judgment entirely. An ethical pluralist does so while at the same time taking up at least a limited affirmation of universally valid values, norms, and practices as endorsed by an ethical absolutist, yet avoiding the ethical monism and intolerance of difference that such absolutism easily falls into.
Strengths and limits of ethical pluralism Ethical pluralism thus provides us with an important way of understanding and responding to the sometimes radical differences that we encounter, especially at a global level.