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October 11, 1976

Territorial Rights to Moral Values

JAMA. 1976;236(15):1733-1734. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03270160055035

Politics were not imputed to King Solomon when he enjoined the sluggard to go to the ant, "consider its ways, and be wise." He was seen merely as pointing to a paradigm of the work ethic. Nor was Maeterlinck implicated in politics when he wrote his Life of the Ant and Life of the Bee. Whatever political analogies might have been drawn from his description of over-organized, regimented insect societies, he was seen as a poet and mystic overawed by the guiding "spirits" of the hive and the anthill. Yet when the sociobiologist E. O. Wilson (Insect Societies and Sociobiology) surveys the evolution of social customs of insect and other animal societies, he is instantly accused of political bias.1

Why was Wilson singled out for such accusation? The reason must be sought in the extreme sensitivity of some ardent advocates of social reform to any theory that enlarges the