Moral Animals: Ideals and Constraints in Moral Theory [Book Review]

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Wilson's book has two aims: a metaethical aim, to provide a non-moral-realist account of moral judgment and moral theorizing in terms of preferences for certain 'paraworlds' over other 'paraworlds,' and a normative ethical aim, to argue for greater socio-economic, and gender, equality. I am sympathetic to the second normative ethical aim, but I do not consider the metaethical redescription of moral judgment and moral theorizing in terms of preferences for paraworlds to be accurate or helpful. Her critique of "immanentism," or merely making visible and understandable the moral aspects of particular ways of life, in the second part of the book, is valuable, along with her criticisms of virtue theory as the most conservative of the Big Three moral theories. Her rejection of Rawlsian redistribution, in favor of a qualified egalitarianism that includes merit, is also worthy of consideration.
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