Bryan Caplan  

Haidt's Bet

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I'm impressed to learn that Haidt backed up his Five Foundations theory with his own cash.  The offer expired on August 1, 2009, but it ran for two years:
IF ANYONE CAN DEMONSTRATE THE EXISTENCE OF AN ADDITIONAL FOUNDATION, OR SHOW THAT ANY OF THE CURRENT 5 FOUNDATIONS SHOULD BE MERGED OR ELIMINATED, JON HAIDT WILL PAY THAT PERSON $1,000.
The resolution procedure is admittedly slanted in Haidt's favor:
Winning the prize will take two steps. First, you must make a good case, in writing, that some other set of concerns is a plausible candidate for foundationhood. Then, you must collect empirical evidence to show that this set of concerns is psychometrically distinct from the existing five foundations, or is otherwise incompatible with the existing five... We in the consortium will be the judges, and we'll probably want to replicate anyone else's findings before changing our whole theory, but we have stated in print that we take the five foundations are the best starting points; we do not believe they account for all of human morality. (emphasis mine)
I'm nevertheless impressed that they've publicly named and described the leading challengers: equality/oppression, liberty/oppression, waste, wisdom, truth/right belief, truth/honesty, a bipolar theory, self-control, and property.

Question for discussion: Read the details on the challengers.  Which is the easiest to subsume under the Five Foundations?  The hardest?


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COMMENTS (4 to date)
Braden writes:

There go five hours of my life. Those tests are ridiculously compelling.

Daniel Klein writes:

Great discussion, Bryan.

Rather than "property," I think that something more specific needs to be distinguished: the configuration of ownership.

Social democrats (so-called liberals) implicitly see property as collectively owned by the polity/people/"state", administered by the club's officials, the government. They see "private property" as sub-dominions carved out by this overlord.

All this relates to Haidt's ideas about purity/sanctity and authority/respect. If one takes a (classical) liberal view of the configuration of ownership, what is prominent is GRAMMAR type rules, which Adam Smith calls variously "precise," "accurate," and "indispensible." If one takes the social democratic view, what is prominent are AESTHETIC type rules, which Smith calls "loose, vague, and indeterminate." Likewise, you get a focus on commutative vs. distributive justice.

I explore these in the following paper:

http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/klein/PdfPapers/ResortingtoStatism.pdf

The paper interprets Conservatism as, like (classical) liberalism, based in grammar-type rules, but with an important difference in the configurations of ownership: Certain spirit lords, such as God and state, are among the array of owners.

Tim writes:

As for ingroup loyalty, a further counterexample would be the left-wing "liberal"/socialist Democrat preference for protectionism versus the right-wing conservative/libertarian Republican preference for free trade. When it comes to trade and glocal capitalism the left turns out to be mildly xenophobic while the right tends to be far more cosmopolitan.

wreaver writes:

@Bryan,

One thing to note though is that, as far as I can tell, Haidt does not release the data he collects from the YourMorals.org surveys. So the task at hand (of winning the bet) is a little more difficult. You'd have to collect your own data. (I actually e-mailed and asked for data, but never got a response.)

I've actually been quite intrigued by Jonathan Haidt's Moral Foundation theory. However, I've wondered if the "liberals" he is talking about includes "progressives" (who, I believe, is what most people today think of when they say "liberal" in the U.S.). "Progressives" seem like they have a 5 foundation morality to me.

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