Monday, April 12, 2021

Universalists and Particularists

The Dutch management scholar Fons Trompenaars wrote several years ago about cultures that are universalist and those that are particularist.

The universalists believe that laws and rules should be applied equally.

The particularists believe it is appropriate to make exceptions for relatives and friends. 

I would add that nowadays we see special exceptions made for those with the same political beliefs.

This gives the particularists a distinct advantage in political debates. Although they can denounce any hypocrisy by the universalists, their own hypocrisy is quickly ignored.


Because they don't pretend to be consistent. They believe - seriously believe - that they are morally superior to the other side. Exceptions are permissible if made in their favor.

After all, if you think the other side is composed of Nazis and racists and crooks, then you may not be too scrupulous when it comes to how you take them down. Read Twitter for a while and you'll see plenty of examples of this way of thinking.

All of us need to get back to universalist thinking. Particularist thinking will destroy civilization.

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