Johnathan Haidt and the Moral Foundations of Political Groups


Jonathan Haidt studies moral reasoning. The first part of the book which deals directly with his research if the strongest part of the book and the most persuasive. Basically we make snap moral decisions and will double down on them if questioned. The reasoning process comes later. So the immediate response is emotional and only a little later does the brain come in and reason these moral issues out.

The emotive response comes out of the moral frameworks from our culture, family, economic status etc. Haidt makes the point that most well off Westerner's have an individualistic morality based on classical liberalism. Other cultures have behaviours and morality with more social and moral expectations around group behavior.

We instinctively know this morality to be true because we are immersed in them and they are normalized and hence obvious to us. We only reason on that morality after we have given up our instinctive moral reflex.

Haidt's studies led him to look into how people moralize as groups and the moral foundations for it. Further he questioned what that meant for politics. A graph of these and how they relate to self-identified individuals on the political scale is below:

Haidt has used this scale to see how homogenous the political affiliations are, such as liberal sites which have done the survey on his site and the infamous tea-partiers.

The up-shot of all this is that Haidt believes liberals are missing out on their ability to appeal to conservatives due to their limited moral foundation as a group. Because they see the political world as existing of rights and government helping the poor and disadvantaged they are missing many arguments that could advance progressive politics in the areas of fairness, loyalty and sanctity.
cam 2012-04-14 16:41:14.0