Monday, February 27, 2012

How Do conservatives and Liberals see the world?

Bill Moyer's Interview with Jonathan Haidt

There’s a transcript of the vimeo below here.

Here's a particularly interesting section:

JONATHAN HAIDT: Obama is such a great orator and wowed so many of us in the campaign. But then, once he was elected, you know, he's been focusing on the terrific, terrible problems that he's had to deal with. But I think he has not made the moral case that would back up the arguments from the politicians in Washington.

I think the Democrats need to be developing a credible argument about fairness, capitalism, American history. They need to be developing this master narrative so that when they then have an argument on a particular issue, it'll resonate with people. And they're not doing that. But the Republicans have.... if you imagine each of our righteous minds as being, like an audio equalizer with six slider switches, and the first one is care, compassion, those sorts of issues, liberals have it turned up to 11. And we have this on a lot of different surveys. Liberals really feel. When they see an animal being mistreated, they're more likely to feel something than conservatives, and especially than libertarians, who are very, very low on this one.

JONATHAN HAIDT: The next two, liberty and fairness, when liberty and fairness conflict with care, are you going to punish someone, or are you going to be compassionate? Liberals are more likely to go with care.

JONATHAN HAIDT: In other words, care trumps liberty and fairness, even though everybody cares about all three of those. The next three, loyalty, authority and sanctity, what we find, across many questionnaires, many surveys and analyses of texts and sermons, all sorts of things, is that liberals don't talk a lot about loyalty, you know, group loyalty. They don't talk a lot about authority and the importance of order and authority, maintaining order. They don't talk a lot about sanctity. Conservatives on the other hand, what we find is that, they value all of these more or less equally.

And I think this is part of the reason why conservatives have done a much better job of connecting with American morality and convincing people that they are the party of moral values

(Much of what he is saying is what Alasdair MacIntyre wrote about in 1989, in his "Whose Justice, Which Rationality?" and in 1991 in "Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry: Encyclopaedia, Genealogy, and Tradition."  Rationality is relative to communities. As Tom Morris writes, "The concept of rationality derives its usefulness from its ability to demarcate some beliefs off from others, separating the sheep from the goats, or the wheat from the chaff." There seems, therefore, to be a conservative rationality and a liberal rationality. What's important to remember, though, is that rationality is not the same thing as truth. Rationality  is a means of attaining moral and metaphysical truth. Would I be mistaken in concluding that Haidt is saying that liberals go narrow and deep, while conservatives go broad and shallow? )

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