The other day, Richard Dawkins had a go at Plato:
It’s not the first time. Dawkins has a thing for picking on Plato. He said this back in March:
Many of the popular theories of justice claim that all “reasonable people” in a given circumstance would rationally agree to them, and therefore they are just. Rawls, for instance, claims that all reasonable people can readily agree to Rawls’ principles of justice (in order of priority: everyone has as much liberty as possible without infringing on the liberty of others, all people have equal access to opportunities, and inequality is only justifiable provided that it benefits the worst off–“maximin”) because he thinks all reasonable people readily acknowledge that all people are free and equal. This leaves a question open–who are the unreasonable people? Racists, sexists, ethnocentric people, all of those are obviously unreasonable under this theory, but what about conservative theorists? Are they unreasonable, and, if so, what does that mean for theories of justice?
A lot of people in politics, particularly political theory, have used the objection “this doesn’t feel right” as a counter to logical arguments. The primary victims of this line of emotion-led reacting have been the utilitarian and consequentialist moral theorists. “This is conducive to the general welfare for reasons X, Y, Z” is often met with “well sure, but I just don’t like that”. This sort of reaction is typically treated as a legitimate argument, but does it deserve this level of standing? Today, I intend to argue that it does not.