Left-Wing Moral Intuitions Involving Sanctity & Authority

Jonathan Haidt’s research into moral psychology possesses many virtues. I recommend any of his papers on gut reactions and moral judgement for a mind-quake inducing aha. (Turns out Hume was closer to the truth than Kant.) But besides delineating five types of moral judgement–recoiling from harm to others, unfairness, disobedience, despoiling the sacred, and disloyalty–Haidt outlines a theory for political psychology. As he sees it, conservatives have different settings from liberals along these five moral dimensions. The liberal cares more about preventing harm to others and upholding fairness than he cares for authority and the sanctity of sacred spaces. Liberals also care less about in-group loyalties. On the other hand, the conservative amps up his authority, in-group bias and sanctity settings. So Haidt says. But I have to say Haidt’s taxonomy of political psychology lacks the power of his research into morality. Haidt writes:

morality is not just about how we treat each other (as most liberals think); it is also about binding groups together, supporting essential institutions, and living in a sanctified and noble way. When Republicans say that Democrats “just don’t get it,” this is the “it” to which they refer.

If Haidt thinks that left-wing ideologies are without any sense of the sacred, then I offer this video to refute him. One horse laugh is better than 10,000 syllogisms.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Left-Wing Moral Intuitions Involving Sanctity & Authority

  1. I find Haidt’s research into morality and politics dangerously flawed. I doubt that morality can be reduced to his five ingredients, and I’m not sure the questions in his tests measure what he claims they do.

    More at Notes from underground: The moral high ground — or is it?

  2. Steve, I am a psychologist and don’t see the flaw. Haidt – albeit the polar opposite to me in politics and spiritual values – is a very solid researcher.

    I once asked Haidt if the reason that conservatives are happier than liberals is because we honor the full spectrum of morality. He doubts it, but I am quite sure that is one of the factors. Honoring authority, preserving sanctity, and embracing loyalty is a joyful experience, one that liberals lack. Although the insanity of the video makes me think they are trying in vain to achieve it. The video has such a sadly desperate quality.

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