Think 9 (26):21-27 (2010)

Brendan Larvor
University of Hertfordshire
Peter Williams complains that Richard Dawkins wraps his naturalism in ‘a fake finery of counterfeit meaning and purpose’. For his part, Williams has wrapped his complaint in an unoriginal and inapt analogy. The weavers in Hans Christian Andersen's fable announce that the Emperor's clothes are invisible to stupid people; almost the whole population pretends to see them for fear of being thought stupid . Fear of being thought stupid does not seem to trouble Richard Dawkins. Moreover, Williams offers no reason to think that such fear motivates any of Dawkins' readers. Perhaps all we are supposed to take from the fable is that Dawkins' naturalism is obviously lacking in meaning and purpose. If that is the intended reading, then by using this analogy, Williams has given himself an unnecessarily difficult task. Surely, it would be achievement enough for him to show that Dawkins' naturalism lacks meaning and purpose. There is no reason for Williams to make the extra claim that it obviously lacks meaning and purpose. After all, there is an obvious difficulty with arguing over several pages that something is obviously the case.
Keywords Dawkins  Naturalism
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DOI 10.1017/s1477175610000254
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