Modern societies appear to be going through a phase of dehierarchization, that is, a change in the way of governance of nation states, from direction of, to cooperation with, civil society; and in more general terms political pluralization, the emergence of “polities” other than the nation state. The paper argues that one of the most stressing problems of political pluralization is the co-existence of mutually effacing or contradictory systems of political norms. To tackle this problem of incompossibility, it has been suggested that policy teloi, shared conceptions giving direction to cooperative political ventures, in particular sustainable development, could be helpful. This article investigates whether sustainable development as a policy telos can tackle incompossibility, both in liberal (democratic) and non-liberal (democratic) societies. The paper concludes that its best chances of being temporarily successful lie in understanding it in the broadest sense possible—particularly if one values moral pluralism.

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