Evidentiary, Engaged, and Inclusive Pluralism

In the criticism of aesthetics, the Evidence and Corroboration in the four Relatively Adequate Hypotheses detailed in World Hypotheses: A Study in Evidence (1942) provides some insight into metaphysical stances that can be taken.

In a [2015 article](https:/doi.org/10.5325/philrhet.48.3.0266) by [Scott R. Stroud](https://commstudies.utexas.edu/faculty/scott-stroud), four orientations towards critical utterances are described.

> There seem to be at least four general orientations that are live options in any situation involving a range of critical utterances. > One could be a pluralist. > * This is the sort of disposition that is ready to accept a range of interpretations as equally valid, even if they conflict. > Another orientation that could be adopted would be that of the relativist. > * This position differs from the pluralist primarily because it strongly asserts that all accounts are equally valid, whereas the pluralist could conceivably find a criterion of adequacy to limit acceptable views to a subset of all possible views (Ford and Klumpp 1985). > The monist is another dispositional option -- this orientation that insists there is one correct interpretation or reading concerning a given critical object. > * This position could easily devolve into dogmatism; it can also be identified in its more self-conscious forms as what Krausz (1993) calls “singularism,” or the view that there is always a single correct or valid interpretation, whether it is discovered or not. > * Conceptualizing the distinction between singularism and pluralism (“multiplism”), Krausz puts the difference in stark terms: “The singularist holds that there is always a single right interpretation (which is sometimes accessible and sometimes not), the multiplist holds that sometimes there just is no single right interpretation” (45). > * The singularist or monist would insist that we should sort through the interpretative or critical diversity and find the right reading. > * If we fail, that is due to contingent factors; it isn’t due to the fact of the matter allowing a plurality of critical readings. > Last, one could also embrace global skepticism. > * This is the view that all competing interpretations or readings are suspect. > * Whereas relativism accepts all readings, skepticism grandly sweeps all readings aside in tidal wave of distrust. [pp. 279-280, editorial paragraphing added]

Stroud disposes of skepticism and dogmatism, as did Pepper in World Hypotheses: A Study in Evidence (1942, _Chapter i: The Utter Skeptic_ and _Chapter 2: Dogmatists_.

> While skepticism and dogmatic versions of monism are deemphasized in schemes such as the one we have extracted from Pepper, the debate between monism and pluralism is a live one. > * One vital decision point comes when the monist effectively tells the pluralist that if she simply raises her standards, the right interpretation will shine forth in the chaos of readings available. [p. 280, editorial paragraphing added]

Evidentiary pluralism is a subtype of methodological pluralism.

> The form of pluralism that this explication of Pepper’s theory of world hypotheses has emphasized could be called an evidentiary pluralism, a ­subtype of Booth’s (1979) methodological pluralism, since it emphasizes the source of evidence in critical utterance as well as the process-based evaluation of that evidence. > * It gives us a reading of how critics translate the world into justified critical utterances, be they of the Marxist or psychological variety. > * This translation also implicates a metaphysical position in that it recognizes that each metaphor entails some relation between control objects and the objects of criticism; each theory must give an account of evidence, and such accounts inevitably spell out how the real is interrogated to yield the indices of its nature that critical utterances express. [p. 283, editorial paragraphing added]

Applying the World Hypothesis approach of Pepper enables a stronger foundation for a metaphysics of criticsm.

> The pluralism that I have enunciated here can be counted as a _methodological ­ pluralism_, since it focuses on methods or processes by which any given critic can both assert contingent, perspectivally limited claims and deal with the social implications of others doing the same. > * By being a form of pluralism that is characterized accurately as _evidentiary_, _engaged_, and _inclusive_, it does justice to both the intersubjective aspects of criticism as well as the referential aspects of criticism. > * It is this latter point that is so often overlooked, at least insofar as its metaphysical commitments go. [p. 287, editorial paragraphing added]