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Moral Foundations Theory

11/24/15 | by david2 [mail] | Categories: Politicks

Interesting article on differences between Conservative and Liberal thought process.  Calls into question Jonathan Haidt's Moral Foundations Theory.





But as the Bush era ended, and Barack Obama’s rhetoric of transcending right/left differences captured the national imagination, an echo of sentiment appeared in the field of political psychology as well. Known as “moral foundations theory,” and most closely associated with psychologist Jonathan Haidt, and popularized in his book “The Righteous Mind,” it argued that a too-narrow focus on concerns of fairness and care/harm avoidance had diminished researchers’ appreciation for the full range of moral concerns, especially a particular subset of distinct concerns which conservatives appear to value more than liberals do. In order to restore balance to the field, researchers must broaden their horizons—and even, Haidt argued, engage in affirmative action to recruit conservatives into the field of political psychology. This was, in effect, an argument invoking liberal values—fairness, inclusion, openness to new ideas, etc.—and using them to criticize or even attack what was characterized as a liberal orthodoxy, or even a church-like, close-minded tribal moral community.

Yet, to some, these arguments seemed to gloss over, or even just outright dismiss a wide body of data, not dogma, from decades of previous research. While people were willing to consider new information, and new perspectives, there was a reluctance to throw out the baby with the bathwater, as it were. In the most nitty-gritty sense, the question came down to this: Was the rhetorical framing of the moral foundations argument actually congruent with the detailed empirical findings in the field? Or did it serve more to blur important distinctions that were solidly grounded in rigorous observation?



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