[lit-ideas] Re: Sociobiology and Ethics

  • From: Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 03 Nov 2006 20:24:42 -0800

Erin says:

> What is "ethical institutioniasm", you ask?
>
> It's "the belief that...
>
> THE MIND HAS A DIRECT AWARENESS OF TRUE RIGHT AND WRONG THAT IT CAN
> FORMULIZE BY LOGIC AND TRANSLATE INTO RULES OF SOCIAL ACTION.

I wonder if there really is such a word as 'institutianism'? Nobody seems to
have heard of it. I found a reference to 'institutionism' in a letter to the
editor in The Journal of Asian Studies, where the writer refers to
'Institutionism,' and adds 'whatever that may mean.'

Perhaps Wilson meant Intuitionism, which is very roughly the view that various
moral qualities--features of actions, and the like--are somehow apprehended
immediately through 'intuition,' and are not known through discursive
reasoning. G. E. Moore is sometimes accused of being an Intuitionist, as are
Henry Sidgwick and H. A. Prichard. But none of them thinks that all of the
stuff Wilson mentions in the sentence Erin has capitalized can be apprehended
immediately through intuition. Maybe there's another word, 'institutionalism'
which refers to an actual view held by somebody. But I'm too tired to look it
up.

Sociobiology, it's now been discovered, was written by a Colony of wasps in Los
Gatos, California.

Robert Paul
The Reed Institute

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