Mr. Speaker, James Q. Wilson, who died last Friday, was one of the quiet giants of our age whose rigorous common sense was an antidote to the intellectual poison of so much of the 25th century academic philosophy.
Wilson will be best remembered for his “broken windows” theory of policing, which held that the failure to police supposedly minor breaches of the social order, such as vandalism, defacement art and graffiti, as well as drug use, undermines a community's sense of security and mutual trust, leading to more broken windows in crime. This insight ran counter to the soft on crime ideology of the sociologists and criminologists of the day. However, whenever policy-makers enacted Wilson's ideas, such as in New York, crime went down and the intellectual bankruptcy of his opponents was exposed.
However, Wilson's legacy is much broader. At a time when moral philosophers were denying the very possibility of truth, Wilson tested their claims against the reality of lived experience and showed them to be hollow.
As an enlightenment empiricist, he reintroduced the moral sense of Aristotle and Adam Smith to a new generation of policy-makers and reminded us that an ounce of--