Haidt Notes

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Haidt, The Righteous Mind, Intro and Chapter 1

  • Intro
  • Note: starts with problem of "getting along" -- problem of ethics is settling conflict (recall contrast with more traditional goal of finding a method or theory to discover moral truth).
  • The "righteous" minds is at once moral and judgemental. They make possible group cooperation, tribes, nations, and societies.
  • Majors claims of each section
  • Intuitions come first, reasoning second. The mind is divided, like a rider on an elephant, and the rider's job is to serve the elephant.
  • There's more to morality than harm and fairness
  • Morality binds and blinds -- We are 90 percent chimp, 10% bee.
  • Method Note: This is explanatory writing. Not philosophy directly. Digression on difference between explanatory and justifactory writing.
  • Moral reasoning as a means of finding truth vs. furthering social agendas. Paradox of Moral Experience: We experience our morality the first way, but when we looking objectively at groups, it's more like the second way.
  • Chapter 1
  • Harmless taboo violations: eating the dog / violating a dead chicken.
  • Brief background on developmental & moral psychology: p. 5
  • nativists -- nature gives us capacities to distinguish right from wrong, possibly using moral emotions.
  • empiricists -- we learn the difference between right and wrong from experience. tabula rasa.
  • rationalists -- circa '87 Piaget's alternative to nature/nurture -- there is both a natural developmental requirement and empirical requirement for understanding the world in the way we consider "rational" (folk physics, folk psychology). (This was supposed to move us beyond nature and nurture, but it took a bit longer. -MA)
  • Piaget's rationalism: kids figure things out for themselves if they have normal brains and the right experiences. stages: example of conservation of volume of water (6) "self-constructed" - alt to nature/nurture. 7: We grow into our rationality like caterpillars into butterflies.
  • Kohlberg's "Heinz story" - pre-conventional, conventional, post-conventional.
  • note problems, p. 9. seems to support a liberal secular world view. Egalitarianism, role playing, disinterestedness.... Is it obvious or suspicious that that's what rationalism leads to? Haidt suspects something's been left out.
  • Turiel: note different method. Probing to find contingencies in kids' thinking about rules. kids don't treat all moral rules the same: very young kids distinguish "harms" from "social conventions". Harm is "first on the scene" in the dev. of our moral foundations. (Note: Still following the idea that moral development is a universal, culturally neutral process.) (Note on method: we have, in Turiel's research, a discovery of an unsupported assumption.)
  • Haidt's puzzle about Turiel: other dimensions of moral experience, like "purity" and "pollution" seem operative at young ages and deep in culture (witches -- how do human minds create witches in similar ways in different places?). 11-13 examples. Found answers in Schweder's work.
  • In what ways is the concept of the self culturally variable?
  • Schweder: sociocentric vs. individualistic cultures. Interview subjects in sociocentric societies don't make the moral/conventional distinction the same way we (westerns) do. (Schweder is "saying" to Kohlberg and Turiel: your model is culturally specific.) For example in the comparison of moral violations between Indians from Orissa and Americans from Chicago, it is important that these groups don't make the convention/harm distinction Turiel's theory would predict. That's a distinction individualist cultures make.
  • Point of harmless taboo violations: pit intuitions about norms and conventions against intuitions about the morality of harm. Showed that Schweder was right. The morality/convention distinction was itself culturally variable. Turiel is right about how our culture makes the harm/convention distinction, but his theory doesn't travel well. Roughly, more sociocentric cultures put the morality(wrong even if no rule)/convention (wrong because there is a rule) marker more to the morality side. almost no trace of social conventionalism in Orissa.
  • Identify, if possible, some practices and beliefs from either your personal views, your family, or your ethnic or cultural background which show a particular way of making the moral/conventional distinction. (Example: For some families removing shoes at the door is right thing to do, whereas for others it is just experienced as a convention. Would you eat a burrito in a public bathroom? Tell story of dinner out with a vegan friend.)


Haidt, Chapter 2, "The Intuitive Dog and Its Rational Tail"

  • Note the reference to "The Divided Mind" at the start -- back to akrasia --
  • Philosophy's "rationalist delusion" ex. from Timaeus. but also in rationalist psych. -- Maybe humans were once perfect..........
  • 30: Plato (Timaeus myth of the body - 2nd soul), Hume (reason is slave of passions), and Jefferson (The Head and The Heart)
  • Wilson's Prophecy: brief history of moral philosophy after Darwin. nativism gets a bad name...
  • moralism (Anti-nativism): reactions against bad nativism, like Social Darwinism, 60s ideology suggesting that we can liberate ourselves from our biology and traditional morality (as contraception appeared to).
  • Nativism (natural selection gives us minds "preloaded" with moral emotions) in the 90s: Wilson, de Waal, Damasio Controversy in E. O. Wilson's Sociobiology.
  • Note, for example, debate over rights: rationalists(moralists) vs. nativists: note the claims and counter-claims. brings in feminism, resistance to science, naturalism.
  • de Waal (soon); Damasio -- 33 -- seems to be a very different picture than Plato's;
  • Evolutionary Psychology in moral psychology (quick small group: practice your "study reporting skills in reviewing briefly these findings. Be sure to include significance.)
  • Damasio's research on vmPFC disabled patients.
  • No problem making moral decisions under cognitive load. Suggests automatic processing. Note this also suggests that we shouldn't think of our "principles" as causal.
  • Roach-juice
  • Soul selling
  • Harmless Taboo violations: Incest story; note how interviewer pushes toward dumbfounding.
  • How to explain dumbfounding.
  • Margolis: seeing that (pattern matching - auto) vs. reasoning why (controlled thought); we have bias toward confirmation, which is seen in the mistake people make on the Wasson Card test. (From this perspective Kohlberg was focused on "reasoning why". Note from p. 44, some "reasoning why" is crucial to moral discourse (similar to universalizability in Singer reading)
  • Rider and Elephant
  • Important to see Elephant as making judgements (processing info), not just "feeling" (Hard for traditional philosophers to do.)
  • 45: Elephant and Rider defined
  • Emotions are a kind of information processing, part of the cognitive process.
  • Moral judgment is a cognitive process.
  • Intuition and reasoning are both cognitive. (Note: don't think of intuition in Haidt simply as "gut reaction" in the sense of random subjectivity. Claims you are processsing information through emotional response.
  • Values of the rider: seeing into future, treating like cases like; post hoc explanation.
  • Values of the elephant: automatic, valuative, ego-maintaining, opens us to influence from others.
  • Social Intuitionist Model: attempt to imagine how our elephants respond to other elephants and riders.

Haidt, Chapter 3, "Elephants Rule"

  • Personal Anecdote: your inner lawyer (automatic speech)
  • Priming studies:
  • "take" "often" -- working with neutral stories also
  • Research supporting "intuitions come first"
  • 1. Brains evaluate instantly and constantly
  • Zajonc on "affective primacy"- small flashes of pos/neg feeling from ongoing cs stimuli - even applies to made up language "mere exposure effect" tendency to have more postive responses to something just be repeat exposure.
  • 2. Social and Political judgements are especially intuitive
  • flashing word pairs with dissonance: "flower - happiness" vs. "hate - sunshine" (affective priming)
  • Implicit Association Test Project Implicit
  • flashing word pairs with political terms. causes dissonance. measureable delay in response when, say, conservatives read "Clinton" and "sunshine".
  • Todorov's work extending "attractiveness" advantage to snap ju-- note: Dissonance is pain.'
  • judgements of competence. note speed of judgement (59)
  • 3. Bodies guide judgements
  • Fart Spray exaggerates moral judgements (!)
  • Zhong: hand washing before and after moral judgements.
  • Helzer and Pizarro: standing near a sanitizer strengthens conservatism.
  • 4. Psychopaths: reason but don't feel
  • Transcript from Robert Hare research
  • 5. Babies: feel but don't reason
  • 6. Affective reactions in the brain
  • Josh Greene's fMRI studies of Trolley type problems. The Trolley Problem
  • Pause on Joshua Greene quote, p. 67
  • When does the elephant listen to reason?
  • Paxton and Greene experiments with incest story using versions with good and bad arguments. Harvard students showed no difference, though some when allowed delayed response.
  • Friends... The Importance of Friends...Friends are really important...

Haidt "Out-Take on Virtue Ethics"

  • Main point: Virtue ethics as third alternative to utlity and duty (deontology) which fits the social intuitionist model (if you think of it apart from Aristotle's bias about reason and the contemplative life).
  • virtues are "character traits that a person needs in order to live a good, pariseworthy, or admirable life" - the well-trained elephant.


Haidt, Chapter 4, "Vote for Me (Here's Why)"

Note: 1/2 of this chapter will be discussed on Tuesday

  • Ring of Gyges - example of veneer theory.
  • Functionalism in psychology
  • Reminder of big theoretical choice about ethics. 74
  • Tetlock: accountability research
  • Exploratory vs. Confirmatory thought
  • Conditions promoting exploratory thought
  • 1) knowing ahead of time that you'll be called to account;
  • 2) not knowing what the audience thinks;
  • 3) believing that the audience is well informed and interested in truth or accuracy.
  • Section 1: Obsessed with polls
  • Leary's research on self-esteem importance- "sociometer" -- non-conscious level mostly.
  • Section 2: Confirmation bias and exploratory thought
  • Confirmation bias
  • Wasson again -- number series
  • Deann Kuhn -- 80: We are horrible at theorizing (requiring exploratory thought)....
  • David Perkins research on reason giving
  • Small Group discussion:
  • We all have examples from social life of people who are more or less interested in exploratory thought and holding themselves accountable to external information and "their side" arguments.
  • Share examples of the verbal and non-verbal behaviours of people who are not very good at exploratory thought and inviting diversity of viewpoint in social settings (other people, of course).
  • Then, try to consider or recall the behaviours of people who do the opposite. What are some verbal or other behaviours that you can use to indicate to others' that you are open to having your views examined? What have you noticed about the practices of people who are good at generating viewpoint diversity in social setting?
  • We will cover the second part of the chapter in the next class session.......
  • more examples of people behaving as Glaucon would have predicted. Members of parliment, Ariely, Predictably Irrational,
  • more evidence of reason in the service of desire: Can I believe it? vs. Must I believe it? We keep two different standards for belief-assent.
  • "motivated reasoning" - 84ff.
  • Section 5: Application to political beliefs:
  • Does selfish interest or group affiliation predict policy preferences? Not so much. We are groupish.
  • Drew Westen's fMRI research on strongly partisan individuals. We feel threat to dissonant information (like hypocrisy or lying) about our preferred leader, but no threat, or even pleasure, at the problems for the opponent. the partisan brain. Difference in brain activation did not seem to be rational/cog (dlPFC). bit of dopamine after threat passes.
  • Research suggests that ethicists are not more ethical than others. (89 Schwitzgebel)
  • Mercier and Sperber. Why Do Humans Reason?
  • Good thinking as an emergent property. individual neurons vs. networks. analogy to social intelligence.
  • Statement, 90, on H's view of political life in light of this way of theorizing. read and discuss.


Haidt, Chapter 5, "Beyond WEIRD Morality"

  • WEIRD morality is the morality of Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic cultures
  • just as likely to be bothered by taboo violations, but more likely to set aside feelings of disgust and allow violations
  • only group with majority allowing chicken story violation.
  • "the weirder you are the more likely you are to see the world in terms of separate objects, rather than relationships" "sociocentric" moralities vs. individualistic moralities; Enlightenment moralities of Kant and Mill are rationalist, individualist, and universalist.
  • survey data on East/West differences in sentence completion: "I am..."
  • framed-line task 97
  • Kantian and Millian ethical thought is rationalist, rule based, and universalist. Just the ethical theory you would expect from the culture.
  • Shweder's anthropology: ethics of autonomy, community, divinity 99-100 - gloss each...
  • claims schweder's theory predicts responses on taboo violation tests, is descriptively accurate.
  • ethic of divinity: body as temple vs. playground
  • vertical dimension to values. explains reactions to flag desecration, piss Christ, thought exp: desecration of liberal icons. (Note connection to contemporary conflicts, such as the Charlie Hebdot massacre.)
  • Haidt's Bhubaneswar experience: diverse (intense) continua of moral values related to purity. (opposite of disgust). Confusing at first, but notice that he started to like his hosts (elephant) and then started to think about how their values might work. Stop and think about how a mind might create this. Detail about airline passenger.
  • Theorizing with Paul Rozin on the right model for thinking about moral foundations: "Our theory, in brief" (103)
  • American politics often about sense of "sacrilege", not just about defining rights (autonomy). Not just harm, but types of moral disgust.
  • Stepping out of the Matrix: H's metaphor for seeing his own politics as more "contingent" than before, when it felt like the natural advocacy of what seem true and right. Reports growing self awareness of liberal orientation of intellectual culture in relation to Shweder's view. Social conservatives made more sense to him after studying in India.
  • Discussion questions:
  • Identify some of the key influences on your morality, especially from religious, regional, and family culture. Have you had any experiences similar to Haidt's in which you become aware of a moral culture that at first confused you, but then showed you something about your own moral culture?
  • Does Haidt's matrix metaphor makes sense? What does it mean? What hope will we have of having "critical" ethical discussions if very contingent differences of culture are part of the fabric of our morality?


Haidt, Chapter 6, "Taste Buds of the Righteous Mind"

  • analogy of moral sense to taste sense. "the righteous mind is like a tongue with six taste receptors"
  • unpacking the metaphor:
  • places where our sensitivities to underlying value perception have depth from evolution, but have flexibility or plasticity from the "big brain", which allows for shaping within culture and retriggering.
  • morality is rich, not reducible to one taste. A way of perceiving the world.
  • like cuisines, there is variation, but within a range.
  • Enlightenment approaches, again: argument against the reductive project of philosophical ethics 113-114. ethics more like taste than science.
  • Hume's three way battle: Enlightenment thinkers united in rejecting revelation as basis of morality, but divided between an transcendent view of reason as the basis (Kant) or the view that morality is part of our nature (Hume, Darwin, etc.). Hume's empiricism. also for him, morality is like taste
  • Autism argument: Bentham (utlitarianism), Kant (deontology). Think about the person who can push the fat guy.
  • Bentham told us to use arithmetic, Kant logic, to resolve moral problems. Note Bentham image and eccentric ideas. Baron-Cohen article on Bentham as having Asperger's Syndrome (part of the autism range). Kant also a solitary. Just saying. clarify point of analysis. not ad hominem. part of Enlightenment philosophy's rationalism -- a retreat from observation.
  • the x/y axis on page 117 shows a kind of "personality space" that could be used to locate Enlightenment rationalists. (Note that Haidt is looking at the psychology of the philosopher for clues about the type of theory they might have!)
  • Avoiding bad evolutionary theory or evolutionary psychology: "just so stories" -- range of virtues suggested "receptors", but for what? the virtue? some underlying response to a problem-type?
  • moral taste receptors found in history of long standing challenges and advantages of social life. The "moral foundations" in Haidt's theory just are the evolved psychological centers of evaluation that make up moral consciousness for humans.
  • Modularity in evolutionary psychology, centers of focus, like perceptual vs. language systems. Sperber and Hirshfield: "snake detector" - note on deception/detection in biology/nature. responses to red, Hyperactive agency detection.
  • original vs. current triggers, 123
  • See chart, p. 125: C F L A S: Care/Harm, Fairness/Cheating, Loyalty/Betrayal, Authority/Subversion, Sanctity/Degradation


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
  • Notes on each foundation:
  • Care/Harm -- ev.story of asymmetry m/f (does this seem too gender deterministic?), attachment theory. current 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).
  • 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. (Singer will echo this in next class reading on "Law")
  • 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. Tendency to see UN and international agreements as vote dilution, loss of sov.
  • 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.
  • Random bumper sticker on a truck in downtown Spokane: Annoy a Liberal. Work. Succeed. Be happy.
  • Group Discussion: Critical Evaluation of Moral Foundations Theory as explanation of moral and political difference.
  • Take each of the moral foundations and try to find examples from your own experience (or others') that helps you identify your general place along the spectrum of each foundation (which is a mixed metaphor). For example, you might recall a reaction your had to something that showed your "trigger" for one of the foundations. Then try to explain to each other what accounts for the different places we occupy in each case. (You could check out political bumper stickers for fun and try to locate them among the moral foundations [1].)
  • Follow-up questions (after group work):
  • What is the status of our reports?
  • Is it odd that the picture of politics in H's theory is so different from our experience of it?


Haidt, Chapter 8: The Conservative Advantage

  • Hadit's critique of Dems: Dems offer sugar (Care) and salt (Fairness), conservatives appeal to all five receptors. Imagine the value of "rewriting" our own or opposing ideologies as Haidt imagined doing.
  • Republicans seemed to Haidt to understand moral psych better, not bec. they were fear mongering, but triggering moral foundations.
  • The MFQ: consistence across cultures; large n; tracks preferences in dogs, church (content analysis of different denominations sermons), brainwaves (dissonance, "fingerprint", first .5 seconds) see chart.-
  • 164: Haidt's beef with liberal researchers. Note ongoing work on bias in the academy. Liberals don't get the Durkheimian vision. But note range of responses excerpted.
  • Mill vs. Durkheim - note the abstraction involved in Millian Liberty -- just like the MFQ data for very liberal. (supports a range of positions including liberatarianism, just is considered a conservative position.)
  • More on Proportionality (which is 5-channel and Durkheimian)
  • 6th Moral foundation: liberty and oppression: taking the "fairness as equality" from Fairness and considering it in terms of Lib/Opp.
  • Evolutionary story about hierarchy, p. 170. original triggers: bullies and tyrants, current triggers: illegit. restraint on liberty. Evolutionary/Arch. story about emergence of pre-ag dominance strategies -- 500,000ya weapons for human conflict take off. Parallel in Chimps: revolutions "reverse dominance hierarchies" are possible. Claims that some societies make transition to some form of political egalitarianism (equality of citizenship or civic equality). Mentions possibility of gene/culture co-evolution (as in dairying). We've had time to select for people who can tolerate political equality and surrender violence to the state. (Note Oregon constitution change on dueling.) Timothy McVeigh (Sic
  • Tea Party (Santelli) is really talking about a conservative kind of fairness, which shares some features of the "reciprocal altruism", such as necessity of punishment. As seen in public goods games.
  • Public Goods games. Setup. 1.6 multiplier. Still, best strategy is not to contribute. altruistic punishment can be stimulated (84% do) even without immediate reward. cooperation increases.
  • Summary: Liberals have emphasize C, F, Lib while conservatives balance all six. Libs construe Fairness in more egalitarian ways and have diff emphasis for Liberty/Oppression.

Haidt, Chapter 9, "Why Are We so Groupish?"

  • Part III: wants to complete the picture: sure we're selfish (or pursure enlightened self-interest), but we're also groupish.
  • track meanings of terms: selfish, enlightened self-interest, groupish - mental mechanisms for each
  • Slogan for part three: morality binds and blinds.
  • Major Theoretical Claim: Multi-level selection, which Darwin originally proposed, is the right theoretical approach for explaining groupishness. Note that we do need an explanation. It's not that altruism can't come from selfishness, but how?
  • Darwin quote: 192. Multi-level selection -- can be thought of as a measure of selection pressure for genes and gene expression that can influence selection at different levels.
  • Example: suicide -- bad for individual fitness, but could be good for group. seen in bees where all selection is group. Groups that can suppress selfishness tip the balance toward group fitness. Your best individual strategy becomes "being good".
  • Revisit the connection between concern about appearing good and being good: reputation functions in both ways. Memory and gossip matter.
  • Background to theory of multi-level selection:
  • Williams, 1966, Adaptation and Natural Selection.
  • favored lower level structures to explain selection. "fast herd is just a herd of fast deer, individuals."
  • altruism reduces to self-interest. Also Dawkins, 76, Selfish Gene. Williams quote on morality 198. Veneer theory!
  • Evidence for a group selection (multi-level selection) view of morality.
  • Exhibit A: Major transitions in organism structure involving wholes. From "eukaryotes" to "eusocials"
  • From biology: cell structure with non-competition among parts. single celled eukaryotes, add a few hundred million years -- multi-cellular organisms. The emergence of a super organism occurs when organisms connect their survival.
  • example of wasp cooperation: hymenoptera divide reproduction labor from maintenance of "hive".
  • "the genes that got to ride around in a colony crushed the genes that "couldn't get it together" and rode around in selfish and solitary insects" (note: a groupish trait can spread among individuals and outcompete non-groupish individuals)
  • Eusociality -- the human story (as opposed to the eusociality of ants, bees, and wasps) - conditions for human eusociality also include "keeping a nest" or camp, sharing access to food. (Note recent books like "Catching Fire". Note how basic divisions of labor over food is in our evolved psychology. Even yuppie dudes grill.). Nests, needy off-spring, threats from neighbors.
  • Exhibit B: Shared Intentionality
  • Chimps vs. Us -- shared intentionality. Tomasello quote: you'll never see two chimps carrying a log. chimps and two year olds.
  • two ways to hunt
  • thesis: we crossed the rubicon when we achieved shared intentionality "when everyone in a group began to share a common understanding of how things were supposed to be done, and then felt a flash of negativity when any individual violated those expectations, the first moral matrix was born." 206. (also Tomasello's view). "joint representation of the world"
  • [Take a moment to notice how this locates a "modern metaphysics of morals" in the culture space opened by evolution. Morality is a creation of cultural creatures who imagine something like a "moral community" and what it means to flourish in it. How might this reposition political discussion?]
  • Exhibit C: Gene-culture co-evolution - culture as an independent factor in creating selection pressure.
  • Learning, accumulation, (mention The Great Sea)
  • Homo habilis' big brains, then 2.4 million years of them. 5-7 millions years ago we parted company with Chimps and bonobos, but there is evidence of many dozens of hominid species 5-15 million years ago.
  • Achueulean tool kit. significance: lack of variation suggests cognitive adaptation
  • Hunting with spears - Homo Heidelbergensis: 600-700K "the rubicon" - sophisticated spears, shared hunting, campsite.
  • Lactose intolerance - textbook case of gene-culture co-evolution
  • prototribalism -- heightened attention to social instints, allows us to expland social discrimination markers and stratify society through culture.
  • we engage in "self-domestication" (Pinker's "end of violence" thesis might fit here.)
  • Exhibit D: Speed of evolution
  • controversy over speed of selection, or even whether selection is still occuring in last 40-50,000 years.: Gould (great biologist, but skeptic of MLS) vs. recent evidence of acceleration
  • breeding foxes (mention dogs social cognition) (note recent NYRB review article with one book devoted to this experiment)
  • group selected hens.
  • evidence from analysis of Human Genome Project: genetic change is measurable and has increased over the last 50,000 years. We're on a fast ride.
  • past "die offs" -- What predicts success after a die off?
  • concluding point about competition vs. war. competition is also over energy capture


Haidt, Ch 10, "The Hive Switch"

  • Humans are "conditional" hive creatures; satisfy the conditional and you flip the switch.
  • Muscular bonding: examples? rowing, dance teams, cheer, serpentine, retreat rituals...
  • Hive switch in celebration and dance. European encounter with traditional cultures found hivish practices disgusting.
  • Durkheim's social sentiments, which bind us to our group, "collective effervescence"; sacred / profane; for evaluation. Do we go wrong by not nurturing this? Or is it an outdated sort of virtue?
  • Awe in nature: Emerson's transparent eyeball experience. (suppression of ego, even in solitude -- beautiful and the sublime) - (especially in religious experience?)
  • Entheogens - in history of religion; contemporary versions. Maslow studies in 60s. bonding in adolescent social groups.
  • Oxytocin - note studies: a squirt will make you more trusting in a public goods game. trust behavior also raises oxytocin levels. effect on bonding and trust, but not with outgroups. Mixed evidence with Dutch men study: oxytocin prompted groupish hivishness (three different studies: team based public goods, Dutch names, and Dutch lives (in trolley type problems). generally about bonding rather than exclusion, but can stimulate some out group behaviors. (research ambiguous.)(Paul Zac, The Love Molecule wedding story.)
  • Mirror Neurons - in humans hooked more into emotional and goal oriented systems. recognizing intentions. Tania Singer study -- less empathy for selfish players. [Mirror neurons do have credibility among researchers in connection with imitation and learning, but there is significant criticism of the attempt to apply them to "theory of mind"; that is, to suggest that they help us understand and identify with each other. (Sapolsky, Robert. Behave Hickok, The Myth of Mirro Neurons 2014.)
  • Economic hives: corporations and cartels.
  • Leadership studies - transactional vs. transformational. (How do you want to live and work? Does belonging matter?) notes from working at a mission-centered non-profit. the magic of 150. building inter-group unity without stimulating out-group negative judgements.
  • Political Hives: might think of hive switch as same phenomenon as fascism. But not all calls for "binding" (fascia, fascist) involve the hive. Hive switch is about dissolving individuality, but also social hierarchy. (Ehrenreich claims fascism was essentially hierarchical, elevating the leader to a cult figure.) Also, hives embody social capital.
  • Evaluating the Hive Switch
  • examples in your experience.
  • anthropological value of the hive.
  • dangers of the hive -- loss of critical distance, over-trusting. communal thinking. turns over a lot to the elephant.


Haidt, Chapter 11, "Religion is a Team Sport"

  • Sports at UVA: Durkheim would call it creation of community, as in religious ritual.
  • Main thesis about all forms of collective bonding, including religion:
  • Wants to focus on the sociological value of religion as a way of binding people together, but also to acknowledge to possibility that the effect of the groupishness is to blind us.
  • Thinks people misunderstand religions by focusing on assessing the truth of their beliefs.
  • Examples include the "New Atheists" -- Harris, Dawkins, Dennett, and Hitchens
  • "Trying to understand the persistence and passion of religion by studying beliefs about God is like trying to understand the passion of college football by watching the movement of the ball. " 250
  • Belief/Doing vs. Belief/Belonging/Doing
  • new atheist arguments/explanations: religion as the "peacock" of culture; psychology of our capacity for religion (hypersensitive agency detection, shared intentionality). Haidt agrees with psychological account, but criticizes new atheists for not considering evolutionary value of religion and group selection pressure it might have created. Pressures which stabilize values in communities, for example.
  • Haidt's (and others; Scot Atran, Richerson & Boyd, Sosis. (mention sosis public goods game research)..) more religion friendly account: religions make cohesive groups. but this implies that religions evolve as well.
  • Notice the messages of the gods of different cultures from hunter-gathers to agriculturalists. Agriculture brings moralistic gods. Old/New testament. Digression on "Disarmament of God"...
  • Contemporary research: Sosis study of 19th US communes. Interesting point on effect of costly sacrifice in sacred vs. secular communities. 6 of secular survive, 39 of the religious communities.
  • major problem religions address: cooperation without kinship. "Irrational beliefs can sometimes help a group function more rationally."
  • Note: Atran's thesis doesn't require an evolved "religion module"; just the capacities for cultural transmission of religion. Religion might be more accurately and positively seen as a product of cultural selection that promotes cooperation.
  • More detail: David Sloan Wilson: bringing Darwin and Durkheim together. on Balinese water temples, Calvinism, and Judaism. metaphorical connection bt gods and maypoles. (Note contemporary research on religion and well-being)
  • Wade: group value of early religion: group level adaptations for producing cohesiveness.
  • Critical Problem: Religion and violence
  • Religion makes us parochial altruists
  • research on religious: 265ff religious people give lots of money and time, but most of it benefits their own group. the more religious you are the more generous you are across the board. playing a public good game knowing the other person is religious increases your trust.
  • 266: trust affected by religious identity (Mention adoption thought experiment.) religions, trust and trade....
  • interestingly: beliefs and dogmas didn't correlate with generous behavior, only community experience. Moral benefits of religion determined by "how enmeshed people were in relationships with their co-religionists."
  • Definitions of Morality
  • Durkheim: 270
  • H's: all of the ways we suppress self-interest and promote cooperation. functional def vs. "About" Acknowledges that his definition is descriptive rather than normative. (Needs another layer.)


Haidt, Ch 12, "Can't We All Disagree More Constructively?"

  • evidence of polarization in American politics; changes in political culture. compromise less valued.
  • theory of ideologies, which might be thought to drive political identity formation
  • "right" and "left", simplifications, but basis of study and comparative to Europe in some ways, historical origins in French Assembly of 1789, basis in heritable traits - twins studies. L/R don't map wealth exclusively (as in recent election). (Ideologies appear to be more fluid now.)
  • One more time through the modern genetic/epigenetic/phenotype explanation pattern (note what's at stake: if you misunderstand the determiinism here, you'll misunderstand the whole theory):
  • 1: Genes make brains - Australian study: diff responses to new experiences: threat and fear for conservative, dopamine for liberal. (recall first draft metaphor)
  • 2: Dispositional traits lead to different experiences, which lead to "characteristic adaptations" (story about how we differentiate ourselves through our first person experience. mention feedback loops). (Lots of parents would corroborate this.) Does the story of the twins seem plausible?
  • 3: Life narratives; McAdams study using Moral Foundations Theory to analyze narratives, found MFs in stories people tell about religious experience. Thesis: different paths to religious faith. We "map" our moral foundations onto our faith commitment to some extent.
  • So, an ideology can be thought of as the political version of a narrative that fits with a personal narrative you tell about your experience.
  • Political narratives of Republicans and Democrats.
  • Haidt, Graham, and Nosek study: Liberals worse at predicting conservatives responses. Interesting point: the distortion of seeing things as a liberal makes liberals more likely to believe that conservatives really don't care about harm. But conservatives may be better at understanding (predicting) liberal responses because they use all of the foundations.
  • Muller on difference bt conservative and orthodox. Post-enlightenment conservatives: want to critique liberalism from Enlightenment premise of promoting human well being. follow conservative description of human nature. 290. - humans imperfect, need accountability, reasoning has flaws so we might do well to give weight to past experience, institutions are social facts that need to be respected, even sacralized. (Consider countries in which judges are abducted or blown up.)
  • Moral and Social Capital -- moral capital: resources that sustain a moral community (including those that promote accountability and authority.). moral capital not always straightforward good (293), also, less trusting places, like cities, can be more interesting. Social capital more about the ties we have through our social networks which maintain trust and cooperation relationships.
  • Liberals
  • blindspot: not valuing moral capital, social capital, tends to over reach, change too many things too quickly. Bertrand Russell: tension between ossification and dissolution..
  • strength: 1) regulating super-organisms (mention theory of "regulatory capture"); 2)solving soluble problems (getting the lead out - might have had big effect on well-being. note this was a bipartisan push back against a Reagan reversal of Carter's policy).
  • Libertarians. Today's political libertarian started out as a "classic liberal" prioritizing limited gov/church influence.
  • Note research suggesting how libertarians diverge from liberals and conservatives on the MFs.
  • libertarian wisdom: 1) markets are powerful -- track details -- often self-organizing, self-policing, entrepreneurial)
  • Social Conservatives
  • wisdom: understanding threats to social capital (can't help bees if you destroy the hive)
  • Putnam's research on diversity and social capital : bridging and bonding capital both decline with diversity. sometimes well intentioned efforts to promote ethnic identity and respect can exacerbate this.