Roots of Morality

^z 4th May 2023 at 6:34am

Psychologist Jonathan Haidt in an 18-minute video lecture "The real difference between liberals and conservatives" [1] discusses what he identifies as the five key values that explain a lot of human politics. His list:

  • caring
  • fairness
  • loyalty
  • respect
  • purity

As Haidt sees it, these are almost (or perhaps literally) inborn human tendencies, "... the five best candidates for the first draft of what's written on the moral mind." The largest differences in his surveys between "Liberals" and "Conservatives" are on questions of loyalty, respect, and purity. "Liberals speak for the weak and oppressed; [they] want change and justice, even at the risk of chaos. Conservatives speak for institutions and traditions; [they] want order even at the cost of those at the bottom." Both sides concur, generally, on the importance of caring and fairness.

Haidt concludes with a call for mutual understanding across political chasms:

Yin and yang don't hate each other. Yin and yang are both necessary, like night and day, for the functioning of the world. ...

Do you accept this? Do you accept stepping out of the battle of Good and Evil? Can you be not For or Against anything? ...

You can't just go charging in, saying "You're wrong and I'm right!" because as we've just heard, everybody thinks they are right.

^z - 2009-04-03