The wise Hilzoy takes down E.O. Wilson on morality

here. Rawls makes an appearance or two:

– Obvious and easily detectable factual errors. Wilson claims that ethicists “tend not to declare themselves on the foundations of ethics.” This would be astonishing if true; fortunately, as any attempt to check this assertion would have made clear, it is not. He writes that Kant’s Categorical Imperative “does not accord … with the evidence of how the brain works”. It would be fascinating to learn what advances in neurology have shown that it is morally permissible to act on maxims that we cannot will to be universal laws. According to Wilson, John Rawls “offers no evidence that justice-as-fairness is consistent with human nature.” In fact, Rawls devotes a sixty-page chapter of A Theory of Justice to this question. Wilson describes Rawls as a “transcendentalist”, i.e., a thinker who holds that “the order of nature contains supreme principles, either divine or intrinsic”. In fact, Rawls explicitly rejects this view. These are only a few of the factual inaccuracies that pervade Wilson’s article. None of them would have been difficult to detect, had anyone tried to do so.

Read it all.


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