Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The curse of the liberal

It’s been weeks since the Edge Foundation held its amazing conference on The New Science of Morality, and I still haven’t been able to digest all that was discussed. I couldn’t attend this select meeting, but like many other people, I’ve been eagerly catching up at the conference’s website, which features transcripts and video of presentations and discussions. The conference focused on the latest thinking in moral psychology, and to a newcomer to the topic like myself, the material is overwhelming. It’s also fascinating.

The first talk was given by University of Virginia Social Psychology Professor Jonathan Haidt, who says:

Morality is a social construction, but it is constructed out of evolved raw materials provided by five (or more) innate “psychological” foundations. In surveys and experiments I have conducted in the USA, Europe, Brazil, and India, I have consistently found that highly educated liberals generally rely upon and endorse only the first two foundations (Harm and Fairness), whereas people who are more conservative, more religious, or of lower social class usually rely upon and endorse all five foundations.

Haidt’s five foundations, in this order, are: Harm, Fairness, Ingroup, Authority and Purity. Read More.

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