Arnold Kling  

Moral Psychology

From Autos to Health Care... Cultural Contradictions of LIb...

Jonathan Haidt writes

Virtues are socially constructed and socially learned, but these processes are highly prepared and constrained by the evolved mind. We call these three additional foundations the binding foundations, because the virtues, practices, and institutions they generate function to bind people together into hierarchically organized interdependent social groups that try to regulate the daily lives and personal habits of their members. We contrast these to the two individualizing foundations (harm/care and fairness/reciprocity), which generate virtues and practices that protect individuals from each other and allow them to live in harmony as autonomous agents who can focus on their own goals.

...we find that people who self-identify as liberals endorse moral values and statements related to the two individualizing foundations primarily, whereas self-described conservatives endorse values and statements related to all five foundations. It seems that the moral domain encompasses more for conservatives—it's not just about Gilligan's care and Kohlberg's justice. It's also about Durkheim's issues of loyalty to the group, respect for authority, and sacredness.

Read the whole thing. It's very tightly argued, and thus excerpts cannot do it justice. It has some common threads with McCloskey's The Bourgeois Virtues.

COMMENTS (2 to date)
MT57 writes:

Thank you very much for that link. I am not qualified to assess the scientific research he quotes but it did on its face seem "tightly reasoned" as you say and that is so rare these days. The only thing I came away wondering about was where notions of autonomy and privacy fit into his notions of morality. I did not see them in his lists and had a hard time extrapolating his 5 categories to include them. Yet I think respecting others' autonomy and privacy is a moral principle.

ko writes:

I wonder how he reconciles the contract/hive model with "noise". Conservatives may be hiveish regarding religion, but not vis-a-vis role of the State. One the other hand he seems to be mixing (L)iberals and liberals. Liberals behave as utility maximizing contractualists regarding "bedrooms" but hive other issues such as health care.

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