Presidential candidate Edward M. Kennedy, setting forth a general overview of his foreign policy thinking, criticized President Carter today for permitting a "proliferation of different voices" in his administration to confuse foreign nations about American positions.

Asked during an appearance before the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations to describe his chief difference with Carter on foreign affairs, the Massachusetts senator said, "The fundamental difference would be that in a Kennedy administration there would be one voice speaking on foreign and defense policy . . . a voice that's predictable and certain, that our allies could rely on and our adversaries would respect."

"One of the most troublesome aspects . . . of the recent period," he went on, "is the proliferaion of different voices that speak for the administration on foreign policy questions and in defense policy questions."

Kennedy offered to elaborate on his answer, but the Chicagoans moved instead to other questions. Later, however, the candidate's foreign policy adviser, Jan Kalicki, offered some examples of the "different voices" in the Carter administration.

He cited well-publicized differences between Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and White House national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski on U.S.-Soviet relations, and the president's foreign policy speech in Annapolis last year.

For that speech, according to a report by a former Carter speech writer, Carter received two quite different drafts from Vance and Brezinzki and instead of choosing one, spliced the two together to make a speech that was self-contradictory.

Kalicki also mentioned Carter's reversal of position on selling arms to Turkey, his toning down of the tough human rights rhetoric he used at the start of his administration and his decision to accept the presence of Soviet troops in Cuba a few weeks after he had declared presence unacceptable.

As he has since the Iranian crisis developed last month, Kennedy refrained from personal criticism of Carter on specific foreign policy issues.

But he was critical, without mentioning the president, of U.S. failure to provide greater and faster assistance to starving refugees in Cambodia.

And he criticized this nation's failure to develop better cooperative energy plans with other oil-importing nations such as West Germany and Japan. "I just cannot understand," he said, "why we've been so ineffective working with our allies in such areas as energy sharing during emergencies and development of alternative sources.

Kennedy said if elected he would not reimpose the military draft. And he said he does not favor closing the U.S. naval base on the Indian Ocean Island of Diego Garcia. He opposed authorization for the base when it was proposed, but today he said that changed circumstances have altered his position.

As he walked onto the stage for his foreign policy talk today, Kennedy slipped slightly but recovered his footing in a flash. He seemed embarrassed. sThe TV crews, who have filmed hundreds of Kennedy entrances over the past month without incident, were elated. They said the incident made a "good visual."

There presumably will be even better visuals in store Tuesday when Kennedy, campaigning in Florida, is to be accompanied by his wife, Joan. CAPTION: Picture, SEN. EDWARD M. KENNEDY . . . wouldn't reimpose draft