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15: MAR 9


  • Haidt, Chapter 7, "The Moral Foundations of Politics" (34)

Haidt, Chapter 7, "The Moral Foundations of Politics"

  • Homo economicus vs. Homo sapiens -- column a b -- shows costs of sapiens psych. commitments "taste buds"
  • Note on Innateness and Determinism: "first draft" metaphor; experience revises - pre-wired not hard-wired. innate without being universal. (Note this is the same anti-determinism disclaimer we got from Hibbing & Co.)
  • Notes on each foundation:
  • Care/Harm -- evolutionary story of asymmetry between m/f interests/strategies in reproduction, attachment theory (read def). current triggers. Baby Max and stuffed animals -- triggers.
  • Implicit theory about "re-triggering" note red flag. unexplained. Consider plausibility.
  • Fairness/Cheating -- We know we incur obligation when accepting favors. So,... Trivers and reciprocal altruism. "tit for tat" ; equality vs. proportionality. Original and current problem is to build coalitions (social networks) without being suckered (exploited). Focus on your experience of cooperation, trust, and defection (which could just be declining cooperation). Public goods game research also fits here.
  • Loyalty/Betrayal -- Tribalism in story of Eagles/Rattlers. liberals experience low emphasis here. (also Zimbardo); note claim that this is gendered 139. sports groupishness is a current trigger. connected to capacity for violence. Liberals can come across as disloyal when they think they are just being critical. Note current culture conflicts over confederate symbols and statues fits here.
  • Authority/Subversion -- Cab driver story. Hierarchy in animal and human society; liberals experience this differently also; note cultural work accomplished by the "control role" -- suppression of violence that would occur without hierarchy. Alan Fiske's work on "Authority Ranking" -- suggest legit recognition of difference and, importantly, not just submission. Authority relationships are a two way street (maybe esp for conservs?). Tendency to see UN and international agreements as vote dilution, loss of sov. (Digressive topic: Should we mark authority relationships more?)
  • Sanctity/Degradation -- Miewes-Brandes horror. Mill's libertarianism might be evoked. ev.story: omnivores challenge is to spot foul food and disease (pathogens, parasites). (Being an omnivore is messy. One should not be surprised to find that vegetarians often appreciate the cleanliness of their diet.) Omnivores dilemma -- benefit from being able to eat wide range of foods, but need to distinguish risky from safe. neophilia and neophobia. Images of chastity in religion and public debate. understanding culture wars.

Working with the Moral Foundations in Political Contexts

  • Bumper Sticker / Slogan reading
  • Extending Haidt's examples of using bumper sticks and slogans to illustrate the moral foundations, please follow these links [1] [2] and browse political bumper stickers together. Keep these questions in mind as you browse:
  • Can you identify specific moral foundations at work in some of the bumper stickers?
  • Do you notice that some are based exclusively in denigrating an opposing view vs. making an affirmation?
  • Why do so many people like to use bumper stickers? Do you? Why or why not?

Tools for working with "Matrix Differences"

  • A big problem that Haidt's "Moral Foundations Theory" (MFT) leaves us with is, "How do we interact with people with different matrices and different experiences, especially concerning political value differences, when we hold our own views with conviction (as true!)? (In other words, how to deal with the Paradox of Moral Experience.).
  • Why this is difficult...
  • We often unintentionally (and, for some people, intentionally) create "cognitive dissonance" in a discussion, leading people to find ways to stop the pain, rather than listen to the issues.
  • We don't always have reasons for our convictions (dumbfounding), so using reason and argument can sometimes backfire. We confuse intuitions with reasoned conviction. This can lead us to "pile on" arguments, thinking they are persuasive apart from intuitions.
  • We don't all react the same way when our views are criticized. (Remember Socrates' attitude here.)
  • 1. Two Basic Strategies:
  • A. Explore difference.
  • B. Find common goals or things to affirm.
  • These strategies obviously move you in different directions in a conversation, but they can both be used together to manage "dissonance" and tension in a discussion.
  • 2. Practice Sympathetic Interpretation
  • In general, sympathetic interpretation involves strategies that mix "identification" (peanuts for the elephant) with "critical engagement" (rational persuasion, value differences)
  • Try to understand where a view is "coming from". Ask questions.
  • Restate views, checking for fairness.
  • Practice "strategic dissimulation" (controversial for some).
  • Use verbal cues that indicate (if possible) that views you disagree with are "reasonable" and/or "understandable". That could mean:
  • 1. The view is reasonable, even if you disagree. Preface your disagreement by acknowledging this.
  • Example: "Reasonable and well-informed people disagree on this...
  • 2. The view seems unreasonable, but you focus on some intuitions that support it, even if you don't share these intuitions.
  • Example: I can see how/why someone would feel this way..., but...
  • 3. The view seems unreasonable and false to you, but it is one that many people hold.
  • Example: Acknowledging that the view is widely held without endorsing it. You can also "deflect" to the complexity of the problem or human nature...