Monday, April 20, 2015


I have repeatedly stated my admiration for Jonathan Haidt's work, but because I am who I am with natural suspiciousness, I usually only note this in the context of my main point of disagreement. It is unfair of me.  I find his books informative but difficult to read, but that shouldn't prevent me from praising his name in the gates.

Haidt's research shows that conservatives make moral decisions on the basis of five factors, liberals only two.  If you are conservative, you think that this is because conservatives are less simplistic, more nuanced, more philosophically aware of complex moral issues.  If you are liberal, you think this is because your two axes are the important ones, and the other three extraneous.

My objection has always been, from the first time I read his research a decade ago, that the distinction is not that absolute.  Liberals also evaluate morality along the other three lines - of purity/disgust, especially.  His original questionnaire just didn't pick that up, because of the bias he (initially) brought to that study.

Here is another example. Purity/disgust is indeed part of the liberal repertoire of moral decision.


Earl Wajenberg said...

He has since increased the number of moral foundations to six: Care/harm, Fairness (equality)/cheating, Liberty/oppression, Loyalty/betrayal, Authority/subversion, and Sanctity/degradation. I think he split one of the old ones, but I forget which. I think his first version had only four foundations.

RichardJohnson said...

Liberals also evaluate morality along the other three lines - of purity/disgust, especially.

Such as in their use of the epithet "Teabagger."

Sam L. said...

The Left is for Science when they think it on their side, and against it when it isn't.

RJ above: "Such as in their use of the epithet "Teabagger." " Which I understand to be a gay term for a sexual practice, and can't understand why they are implying that Tea Party people are gay as a derogatory when the Left just loooooooves homosexuals. (It's OK when they do it; suuuuuure it is.)

Anonymous said...

haidt's much easier to listen to on podcast interviews - he is an excellent speaker - his righteous mind book gets a little dense at times (either it does or i do). as a former iq researcher, he hit the nail on the head when he discusses how social sciences are 98% liberal, therefore certain hypotheses (i.e. genetic) are often not considered, or more elaborate (less occam's razor) hypotheses are glommed onto.