Some philosophers are proud to belong to philosophy departments they call “pluralistic”. Often, this term is used in opposition to philosophy departments that are exemplars of “mainstream analytic philosophy”. But I have a great deal of difficulty understanding what is meant by “pluralistic”, and how it is supposed to be opposed to mainstream analytic philosophy. It cannot refer to the narrowness of the conclusions argued for in contemporary analytic philosophy, which after all include (just to give a very small random sampling in the non-historical areas) the theses that the problem of consciousness shows that materialism is false; that there is just one thing; that the only existing things are presently existing things; that speech-act theory shows that pornography violates freedom of speech; that infallible access to one’s own mental states is not possible; that the source of all vagueness is ignorance; that there is vagueness in the world; that vagueness shows that no claim has a determinate truth-value; that the content of one’s mental states is determined in part by one’s community; that knowledge is a mental state; that embodied action is a key to understanding the nature of perception; that mathematics/modality/morality/middle-sized physical objects are elaborate fictions; that there is no property of truth; that there is a property of truth; that there are no moral properties; that there are moral properties; that there are no character traits; that the aim of action is self-knowledge; that we know many things; that we know few things; that there are many knowledge relations; that whether we know something can depend upon such recherché issues as whether we have just been offered insurance; that truth and reference are the keys to linguistic meaning; that use is the key to linguistic meaning; that use together with what we ought to do is the key to linguistic meaning; that linguistic understanding is at bottom practical knowledge rather than propositional knowledge; that consciousness is fundamentally a matter of practical knowledge rather than propositional knowledge; that practical knowledge is in fact a species of propositional knowledge; that conditionals have no truth-value; that claims about what might be the case have no truth-value (it’s worth mentioning that a not-insubstantial group of mainstream analytic philosophers under the age of 45 believe that the truth of most claims is relative to a perspective, and this is a key to seeing why e.g. conditionals and claims about what might be the case do after all have truth-values). Mainstream analytic philosophy clearly does not place any limits upon the conclusions that can be defended in its journals.
In any discipline, there will always be a distinction between those whose work (rightly or wrongly) is more widely valued in the discipline, and those whose work (rightly or wrongly) is less widely valued. As a rebel in spirit if not in action, I am very attracted to plausible explanations of the bankruptcy of my discipline’s status quo. But the divide between “pluralistic” and “non-pluralistic” approaches is a particularly poor attempt to provide one.