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[ploo r-uh-liz-uh m] /ˈplʊər əˌlɪz əm/
  1. a theory that there is more than one basic substance or principle.
    Compare dualism (def 2), monism (def 1a).
  2. a theory that reality consists of two or more independent elements.
  1. the holding by one person of two or more offices at the same time.
  2. plurality (def 7a).
Sociology, cultural pluralism.
state or quality of being plural.
Origin of pluralism
1810-20; plural + -ism
Related forms
pluralist, noun, adjective
pluralistic, adjective
pluralistically, adverb
nonpluralistic, adjective
unpluralistic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for pluralism
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This forms one permanent inferiority of pluralism from the pragmatic point of view.

    The Meaning of Truth William James
  • At heart he was a savage Dualist, who lapsed occasionally into pluralism.

    Visions and Revisions John Cowper Powys
  • Make the world a pluralism, and you forthwith have an object to worship.

  • pluralism, he says, is not for sick souls but for those in whom the fighting-spirit is alive.

    The Critical Game John Albert Macy
  • So the rival metaphysical hypotheses of pluralism and monism here come back upon us.

    Pragmatism William James
British Dictionary definitions for pluralism


the holding by a single person of more than one ecclesiastical benefice or office
(sociol) a theory of society as several autonomous but interdependent groups which either share power or continuously compete for power
the existence in a society of groups having distinctive ethnic origin, cultural forms, religions, etc
a theory that views the power of employers as being balanced by the power of trade unions in industrial relations such that the interests of both sides can be catered for
  1. the metaphysical doctrine that reality consists of more than two basic types of substance Compare monism (sense 2), dualism (sense 2)
  2. the metaphysical doctrine that reality consists of independent entities rather than one unchanging whole Compare monism (sense 2), absolutism (sense 2b)
Derived Forms
pluralist, noun, adjective
pluralistic, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pluralism

1818, as a term in church administration, from plural + -ism. Attested from 1882 as a term in philosophy for a theory which recognizes more than one ultimate principle. In political science, attested from 1919 (in Harold J. Laski) in sense "theory which opposes monolithic state power." General sense of "toleration of diversity within a society or state" is from 1933. Related: Pluralist (1620s, in the church sense); pluralistic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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pluralism in Culture

pluralism definition

A conviction that various religious, ethnic, racial, and political groups should be allowed to thrive in a single society. In metaphysics, pluralism can also mean an alternative to dualism and monism. A pluralist asserts that there are more than two kinds of principles, whereas the dualist maintains there are only two and a monist only one.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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