The Moral Sense, By James Q. Wilson Essays

The Moral Sense, By James Q. Wilson Essays

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In his book, the “Moral Sense,” James Q. Wilson defines the Moral Sense as a sense of being connected to others. Wilson explains how people from different cultures and societies all have a similar set of basic principles, which they follow. The author brings up the example of fairness in his 3rd chapter. Within the chapter, Wilson explains how everyone, has their own perception of fairness from a very young age even though we come from different cultures and societies. He justifies his idea by bringing to light the simple, basic, but also very natural statement all children make when they are young “That’s not fair.” This is seen throughout all cultures because everyone has a basic idea of what fairness is within them. To Wilson, we have this sense of fairness because we are all humans who are based on evolution and culture, and as a result we all have these commonalities. However even though everyone has a basic consensus of fairness, there is no single universally accepted definition for fairness. This is because everyone has a different definition for fairness and as a result these definitions may clash and conflict. To Wilson, fairness is the perfect example of the Moral Sense – having a sense of being connected to each other because we all have senses like fairness, and other senses like sympathy.

In comparison with other philosophers such as Aristotle and Machiavelli, who are respectively considered ancient and modern, Wilson can be placed in the middle between the two. In Wilson’s view, as a moral society, we should retain our individuality, but also be a self-conscious as a community. In other words Wilson wanted humans to better themselves as individuals in order to better the community. He wants people to understand ...

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...iversal aspiration. The concept explains the idea that once humans can accept themselves as individuals they can accept others as individuals. For example in terms of slavery, as soon as people could accept former slaves as individuals, they achieved the idea of universal aspiration. This concept only exists in the modern world as before people wouldn’t accept people of lower classes and slaves as equals. Today we accept all others as equals because over time, and especially after the enlightenment we as a society moved away from being dependent on our community to being independent beings. Wilson’s idea of universal aspiration is a global idea that Aristotle failed to achieve because he was concentrating on his polis as apposed to the world, and Machiavelli failed too achieve because he was too concentrated on a successful leader rather than other individuals.

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