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The Righteous Mind: The Moral Roots of Liberals & Conservatives

Here is Johnathan Haidt's TED TALK: http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind

"If you're ready to trade in anger for understanding, read "The Righteous Mind."

"In this subtle yet accessible book, Haidt gives you the key to understanding the miracle of human cooperation, as well as the curse of our eternal divisions and conflicts. He shows why liberals, conservatives, and libertarians have such different intuitions about right and wrong, and he shows why each side is actually right about many of its central concerns."

"Drawing on his twenty five years of groundbreaking research on moral psychology, he shows how moral judgments arise not from reason but from gut feelings."

"As America descends deeper into polarization and paralysis, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has done the seemingly impossible—challenged conventional thinking about morality, politics, and religion in a way that speaks to everyone on the political spectrum."

"The social psychologist Jonathan Haidt’s finding that conservatives understand liberals better than liberals understand conservatives."

READ THE BOOK: http://www.amazon.com/The-Righteous-Mind-Politics-Religion/d...

But my own question is, do libertarians even understand ourselves, let alone both liberals and conservatives? Take the Morals test here: www.YourMorals.org

Read more about liberal, conservative & libertarian test results here:

Read this, taken "From Understanding Libertarian Morality: The Psychological Dispositions of Self-Identified Libertarians": "People who are dispositionally high on openness to new experiences are more likely to develop liberal values. People who are dispositionally high on disgust sensitivity are more likely to develop conservative values"..."Libertarians' preferences about how to live their lives may have been transformed into a moral value — the value of liberty — in the same way that vegetarians have been found to moralize their eating preferences or non-smokers moralize their aversion to smoke. From a social intuitionist perspective, this process is no different from the psychological comfort that liberals attain in moralizing their empathic responses or that social conservatives attain in moralizing their connection to their groups. For those who self-identify as libertarian in our sample, their dispositional and motivational profiles all point toward one supreme moral principle: individual liberty."


Well if it is true that there are "5 Mental Windows that filter our 'moral feelings', do we libertarians even know what these are? Sure, we filter all politics through our lens of Life, Liberty & Property = Individual Rights, making a unified, consistent, systematic political position, but nobody else does that. And nor does anyone care to do that. And here is why, they have other filters.

Here is everyone else's moral filter according to the book:

1) harm/care valuation filter.
2) fairness/reciprocity valuation filter.
3) in-group/loyalty valuation filter.
4) authority/respect valuation filter.
5) purity/sanctity valuation filter.

Is there a 6ths moral filter?
6) liberty/oppression valuation filter.

If its true what author says, then liberals filter all their issues through the prism of 1) "harm/care". And if it is true what the author says, the conservatives filter all their issues through the prism of the bottom three, 3) in-group/loyalty, 4) authority/respect
5) purity/sanctity. So where does that leave 2) fairness/reciprocity and 6) liberty/oppression? Answer: Highly Debated & Contested.

These insights may help us "emotionally & morally speak" to either liberals or conservatives. Take the issue of the minimum wage. The angle we must address liberals on is simply this, it causes great harm and cares for no one. You must point that out in dozens of ways, all with a caring heart, all with a single focus for the wellbeing of others and passion to do no harm to anyone. In fact, to get him to switch his position you must show that this one caring/no harm issue works against the care and help that 'we are all' trying to give over here, here, and here.

But lets say you are talking with a conservative who "doesn't like the minimum wage", but when asked, "would you abolish it"? they say "well no, I would not get rid of the minimum wage, I just would not raise it", then you address the "authority of the past traditions we must respect" and point out in dozens of ways, this tradition should not be respected or honored. In fact, to get him to switch his position you must show that this one issue "has not always been so" and "should never have been apart of all our other wonderful traditions that makes us, us".

There is an excellent review of the book here by Todd Zywicki.

Todd writes, ... "One final word on libertarians: Haidt has written a completely separate scholarly article analyzing the “Psychological Dispositions of Self-Described Libertarians.” While one can quibble with such things, his findings seem largely persuasive to me. In that article, Haidt applies the same tools to self-described libertarians and concludes that there are distinct psychological correlates to to libertarian morality that distinguished libertarians from both liberals and conservatives. Perhaps most striking is the libertarians emphasis on systematization. Now this, I think, is an important insight. For it explains a point that seems to be highly distinctive to libertarians: the recognition by libertarians, often with a high degree of pride, that libertarianism offers the only “consistent” ideology and that is one of the most compelling aspects of it. Well here’s Haidt’s point: Most people simply do not care whether their ideological views are consistent. For most people (liberals and conservatives), consistency is simply not a relevant variable or axis for determining what you believe or your ideological worldview. This explains, I think, the frequent bewilderment that libertarians face when they try to persuade someone to change their mind about, say, a social policy because it is “inconsistent” with their economic policy beliefs. It simply is not a relevant argument to them. This has obvious implications for communicating libertarian ideas to non-libertarians (i.e., the overwhelming number of people in America!)."

Read more from Todd's book review here: http://www.volokh.com/2014/01/17/jonathan-haidt-psychology-p...

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Artificial and false divisions...

OK Treg, you want a comment.

These 5 or 6 categories are not correct, nor mutually exclusive. That's a problem.

The objective should not be to pursuade others by using the errors of their particular framework, but to provide them with a framework through which they can make correct evaluations. This applies to libertarians too---most of whom are equally inconsistent.

I'll agree that consistency is not a concern for most people, but my point is that it really should be, and getting them to recognize that is really our only hope. What you suggest is to manipulate faulty thinking is preferable to striving for having people change their thinking.

Can somebody comment?

Is this not "front page worthy"? mmm

Yes, please BUY this wonderful libertarian BOOK! We all must know the History of Freedom! Buy it today!

"The System of Liberty: Themes in the History of Classical Liberalism" ...by author George Smith --
Buy it Here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/05211820

I am shocked that

no one here at the DP seems to think this is significant or worthy of a discussion. Shocked

Yes, please BUY this wonderful libertarian BOOK! We all must know the History of Freedom! Buy it today!

"The System of Liberty: Themes in the History of Classical Liberalism" ...by author George Smith --
Buy it Here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/05211820

That's how free markets work,

That's how free markets work, things don't always go the way you think they should.

Yes, that much is true.

But this much is true as well....

Would we like it, even appreciate it, if both conservatives and liberals actually addressed our moral concerns? Would we find it refreshing? Would we like and appreciate the fact that the liberal or conservative that we are chatting with actually UNDERSTOOD our moral concerns for liberty in society? Of course we would like it.

Therefore, that is what we could be doing when politically engaging both liberals and conservatives, that is, engage them by using their own moral angle on the issue at hand.

Pick any issue, lets take police brutality, then engage say a liberal thru their "harm/Care" moral prism. We would make our arguments to them not using our usual concerns over liberty, but by pointing out the personal HARM and pointing out the reasons why "we should all care". Only as a final last minute benefit, do we point out we are making the country freer.

Yet when discussing the same issue of police brutality for example, to a conservative person, we would bring up their moral prism and address it through their moral window, which might be a deep concern for authority/respect/tradition/..... We would point out that by letting rouge cops do such things, we are making the public lose respect for cops, undermines good cops authority, and goes against our traditions supporting the rule of law. Only as a last minute benefit, do we point out that we are making the country freer.

This understanding of the Moral roots of both liberals and conservatives has many PRACTICAL applications. Since we libertarians are in the minority, we ought to be paying attention to how we all can be more effective when we are "out there selling liberty".


Yes, please BUY this wonderful libertarian BOOK! We all must know the History of Freedom! Buy it today!

"The System of Liberty: Themes in the History of Classical Liberalism" ...by author George Smith --
Buy it Here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/05211820