Skip to main content

I find it difficult to have moral discussions with conservatives.  It's rather like a greyhound chasing a mechanical rabbit around a track.  You get lots of exercise ... but you end up right back where you started, and you never catch the rabbit.  They'll defend some action if a conservative does it - It's OK If You're A Conservative - but rail against the same action if anyone else does it.

We often mistakenly assume that's because they're unintelligent or uneducated.  We offer facts and logic, and they still can't see the obvious contradiction.  So either they refuse to accept facts, or they don't understand basic logic.  Unintelligent or uneducated.  Right?

Actually, no.

More below the fold....

IOKIYAC - Different Moral Equations

Examples abound of conservatives arguing double standards.  If Afghani or Iraqi insurgents torture our troops, they're "animals."  If we torture theirs, we're "keeping Americans safe."  Bailing out banks is "vital for our economy."  Bailing out auto workers or homeowners facing foreclosure risks "moral hazard."  Those who bombed government buildings to protest the Vietnam War were "terrorists."  Those who bomb women's health clinics or murder doctors are "lesser magistrates" carrying out divine justice in defiance of a sinful government.

We progressives often decry this obvious double standard, and we often assume conservatives can't see the double standard because they're either unintelligent or uneducated.  Surely if they were as rational as we are, they would recognize the contradictions in their own positions.  That may be a comforting belief, but research suggests it's false.

Five Biological Bases of Moral Reasoning

Psychologist Jonathan Haidt offers another perspective in this video, and it's one that has kept my mind buzzing for a few days now.  Haidt and his colleagues explored cross-cultural and cross-species behavioral norms and identified what he thinks are the five top candidates for the biological bases of moral reasoning.  He considers these biological because studies find evidence of them in pre-verbal children, and in most other social mammals.  They are, Haidt suggests, evolution's "first draft" of moral reasoning aimed toward social cooperation, coded into our brains at birth.  They are:

  1. Avoid Harm and Care for Others.
  1. Fairness and Reciprocity.
  1. Group Identity and Loyalty.
  1. Obedience to Authority.
  1. Personal Purity.

He notes they're a "first draft" because we can and do rewrite them with life experience.  We rewrite them - or at least weigh them differently - in ways that map closely to our political perspectives.  If you watch the 18-minute video, you'll see graphs of how progressives and conservatives weigh these five values.  Haidt derived his data from over 30,000 surveys, in countries around the world, and the data hold up even when he and his colleagues changed the questions to eliminate "political" issues.  (He gives a wonderful example about progressive vs. conservative reactions to descriptions of a dog proposed for adoption.)

Our different moral equations:

Specifically, progressives weigh the first two principles - avoid harm and care for others, and fairness and reciprocity - as cardinal virtues, much more important than the other three.  In contrast, conservatives weigh all five principles roughly equally.  Haidt finds the same pattern among progressives and conservatives in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

In math-speak, we use different equations to answer moral questions.  The equations I offer are my own - not Haidt's - and they're offered only for illustration.  But I do think putting them in math-speak can help explain why it can be so frustrating to engage in moral conversations with conservatives.

The variables are:

M - moral correctness; is this the right thing to do?
H - avoid harm and care for others
F - fairness and reciprocity
G - group identity and loyalty
A - authority and obedience
P - personal purity

And the progressive and moral equations seem to look like this:

Progressive - M = (2*(H + F)) + G + A + P

Conservative - M = H + F + G + A + P

That is, if I'm reading Haidt's graphs correctly, progressives think those first two principles of avoiding harm and caring for others, and fairness and reciprocity, are roughly twice as important as the other three.  Again, conservatives seem to value all of them about equally.  The different equations have profound moral implications.

It's OK If You're In My Group.

Fairness and reciprocity includes the ethical concept of universality, that the same principles should govern a given behavior regardless of the actors.  That ethical concept is expressed in the Golden Rule, in Kant's Categorical Imperative, and it exists in almost every ethical philosophy and religion.  It's also one of the foundations of our legal system, and John Rawls identifies it as the core concept of due process of law: "like cases should be treated alike."

And progressives consider that a cardinal moral principle alongside avoiding harm and caring for others.  Given a situation where fairness and reciprocity suggest one answer but group loyalty suggests another answer, and all other things being equal, we're likely to choose fairness and reciprocity.  We take it as a given that the law should apply equally to everyone, even to ourselves and other people like us.

But for conservatives, fairness and reciprocity is no more important than group identity and loyalty.  Conservatives don't take it as a given that the law should apply equally to everyone.  Group identity and loyalty weighs equally with fairness and reciprocity - in fact American conservatives weigh group loyalty slightly higher - so the correct moral outcome, all other things being equal, is to favor group loyalty over fairness and reciprocity.  It is OK, if you're a conservative.

Arguing numbers vs. Arguing equations:

That creates a big problem when we have moral discussions, because we progressives take our equation as a given and assume conservatives use the same equation ... while conservatives take their equation as a given and assume we use theirs.

So we end up arguing facts, the 'numbers' that would fit into those equations, and we get nowhere.  We offer evidence for the facts, and maybe we can even convince the conservative that we're correct about those facts.  Which is to say, we've agreed on the 'numbers.'  But we still get different moral answers, because we're plugging the numbers into different equations.  Because we assume they're using our equation - while they assume we're using theirs - we both end up thinking the other must be too unintelligent or uneducated to understand simple logic.

In order to convince people in moral discussions, we first have to agree to apply the same moral principles with the same weightings.  We progressives must advocate for the cardinality of avoiding harm and care for others, and fairness and reciprocity.  We first have to convince our conservative counterparts that those two principles are more important than the remaining three, that they are indeed the foundations of moral reasoning.  Group identity and loyalty, obedience to authority, and personal purity are not irrelevant, but they are secondary.  They are not ends in themselves, but rather to the ends of avoiding harm and caring for others, and achieving fairness and reciprocity.

Until we can make and win that argument, we're like greyhounds running around that track.  We get lots of exercise, but we end up right back where we started ... and we still haven't caught that rabbit.


Happy Wednesday!

Originally posted to NCrissieB on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 04:01 AM PDT.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for getting off that track. :) (255+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sdf, boydog, Chi, Ray Radlein, yellowdog, AlanF, Gooch, Geenius at Wrok, BigOkie, Emerson, bread and roses, Yoshimi, Sherri in TX, Jim W, Stein, celdd, eeff, DFWmom, TarheelDem, Matilda, bumblebums, Heart of the Rockies, Gustogirl, opinionated, KB, Kevinole, Wee Mama, CalvinV, thingamabob, fumie, bustacap, OldYellerDog, SensibleShoes, wader, jdmorg, nancelot, Dallasdoc, pat bunny, Sychotic1, GreatDane, papercut, grrr, lcrp, Pohjola, econlibVA, djtyg, kfred, Lefty Mama, Josiah Bartlett, chumley, kbman, marina, radarlady, salmo, beagledad, el dorado gal, JanetT in MD, Lying eyes, Chinton, liberalis, irate, PBen, Alice Venturi, Simplify, stitchmd, Brooke In Seattle, david78209, chidmf, Chaoslillith, NLinStPaul, Pam from Calif, Kayakbiker, lotlizard, ivorybill, Cyber Kat, AnotherMassachusettsLiberal, FunkyEntropy, sodalis, dazed in pa, begone, jiordan, Shirl In Idaho, gwilson, Orinoco, cybersaur, Clytemnestra, emeraldmaiden, mr crabby, smokeymonkey, fizziks, Naniboujou, EthrDemon, NBBooks, birdbrain64, jguzman17, bubbanomics, nonnie9999, gatorcog, stunspot, Crashing Vor, real world chick, Caoimhin Laochdha, plf515, armadillo, bleeding heart, Preston S, AndyS In Colorado, myrealname, ER Doc, soccergrandmom, Turbonerd, profh, Texdude50, WarrenS, Brian D, Granny Doc, AllanTBG, Pandoras Box, NonnyO, DBunn, jlb1972, phonegery, dotsright, donnamarie, Cronesense, SomeStones, John Clavis, Loudoun County Dem, gloriana, profmom, flumptytail, Jimdotz, BehereBenow, joyful, crispycreme, coloradocomet, gatorbot, malharden, Seneca Doane, yulooloo, jedennis, sabishi, ubertar, st minutia, chicago jeff, millwood, pioneer111, kailuacaton, uciguy30, gizmo59, VA Breeze, sand805, coachster, AnnieJo, FedUpDan, ShadowSD, RickMassimo, Phil N DeBlanc, rontun, indyada, LI Mike, beltane, Calamity Jean, mayim, pamelabrown, bluesheep, TokenLiberal, mofembot, Gemina13, mommaK, winterbanyan, Jacques, Abra Crabcakeya, Cobbler, BlueStateRedhead, BYw, Zulia, dont think, In her own Voice, HoosierDeb, dmhlt 66, Sarah Ann, legendmn, 1BQ, Bule Betawi, multilee, Rhysling, cybrestrike, Glacial Erratic, Neon Vincent, George Hier, aufklaerer, litoralis, ewmorr, maryabein, blzabub8, h bridges, velvet blasphemy, imperturb, Patch Adam, cn4st4datrees, MKSinSA, MooseHB, Deoliver47, guyeda, XNeeOhCon, elropsych, futureliveshere, roadbear, Vacationland, LaughingPlanet, Spruced Alien, elginblt, SoCalHobbit, Anne933, juturna, AJ in Camden, sharonsz, pateTX, addisnana, Otteray Scribe, MikeMaloney, Hawaiian, Actbriniel, theKgirls, kktlaw, gobears2000, Colorado is the Shiznit, RepTracker, I love OCD, Powell, Airmid, Olon, kirbybruno, MaryinHammondsport, arrows theorem, wasrepublican, Amayi, m00finsan, FarWestGirl, kevin k, marleycat, buddingactivist, jdillard, elusive muse, KVoimakas, bamabikeguy, dakinishir, stevie avebury, cherish0708, cheinke, Buddhist Brother, Book of Hearts, blackjackal, BioHazzard

    Because running around in circles futilely chasing a mechanical rabbit may be good exercise, but it's not good government.  I'm off to drive Springoff the Fourth to carpool, and will be back in about a half-hour.  Have fun!

    As always, ::smooooooooooochies:: to Kula, wherever she is, and ::hugggggggggggggggs:: to the Kula Krew!

  •  Good morning Blogistan! (13+ / 0-)

    I gotta go in a few minutes, will try to check in later.

  •  Tips for laying out the track for all to see (10+ / 0-)

    ..and a penny for me for being there to see the car take off.

  •  More Jonathan Haidt (15+ / 0-)

    For the last three years, a conference has been held at the University Of California San Diego called Beyond Belief.  In 2008, the conferences was subtitled Candles in the Dark, where Jonathan Haidt presented a fascinating talk.  Worth watching.

    Magis vinum, magis verum
    (Blogistan Polytechnic Institute motto)

    by GOTV on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 04:17:40 AM PDT

  •  Conservative thought from Burke on (28+ / 0-)

    is premised on the persistance and value of those non governmental associations like family and church.  The dark side of that is degeneration into mere tribalism.  It's one thing to take a side and  cheer for your side to demolish the other side simply because it's your side when your talking intermural high school sports, quite another in politics and society at large.

    •  Group loyalty is not irrelevant. (14+ / 0-)

      One of Haidt's few mistakes in that speech, in my opinion, is his oversimplification and implication that progressives don't care about group loyalty, obedience to authority, or personal purity (though he does give a progressive example of that).  We do care about those 'enforcement' principles, but we see them as means rather than ends in themselves.

      To the extent that group loyalty, obedience to authority, and personal purity make it more likely that we will cooperate to avoid harm and care for others, and with greater fairness and reciprocity, progressives support and advocate those means.  But as means, not ends in themselves.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggggs::

      •  Haidt's oversimplifications (8+ / 0-)

        A recent wire service story on Haidt quoted him as saying progressives are universalists who don't care about nationalism. My first thought was "well, how come we care about the constitutional rights of the citizen, good government, and the rule of law?" None of those things is yet truly in force on the international level, just the trade agreements of multinational corporations and finance. But your summation of his work sounds much meatier.

        Then let us learn our range: we are something but we are not everything - Pascal

        by jlb1972 on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 04:50:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nationalism doesn't mean (6+ / 0-)

          love of one's country. That would be patriotism.

          Nationalism is the belief that your country and its people are somehow better than others. Not because of

          the constitutional rights of the citizen, good government, and the rule of law

          but because of some mysterious quality that only your country and its people possess. 'Chosen people' or 'American exceptionalism' come to mind, but both of these consepts aren't strictly nationalist, what's really at the core of nationalism is an ethnocentric, if not racist or fascist mindset ('the Übermensch').


          The clearest example of opposition to nationalism is cosmopolitanism, with adherents as diverse as liberals, Marxists, and anarchists, but even nationalism's defenders often disagree on its virtues, and it is common for nationalists of one persuasion to disparage the aspirations of others for both principled and strategic reasons.

          "Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." Franklin D. Roosevelt

          by aufklaerer on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 05:25:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Transcendant vs. immanent? (6+ / 0-)

            nationalism's defenders often disagree on its virtues

            I see American nationalism at its best as a vehicle - the only vehicle available to us - for conveying and propagating universal principles that I value. The only other truly universalist modern nation is France, which is probably why we quarrel so. Definitions are useful starters, but they can be narrowing. What you call nationalism, I would call chauvinism. What you call cosmopolitanism or internationalism, I would call out-of-reach for any but the globalized wealthy. The only hope I see for ordinary citizens is to use their votes to achieve universal values in their own nations, which can then become a model for others.

            Then let us learn our range: we are something but we are not everything - Pascal

            by jlb1972 on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 05:48:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You could actually argue that Americans (10+ / 0-)

              can't be nationalists, because, as you stated, the American nation is universalist.

              Originally, only France and the US defined as citizen a person who subscribes to the values and norms codified in the constitution. They were nations based on ideas, not blood.

              All other nations answered the question thusly: A citizen of (insert nation state) is someone born in this state to parents who were also born in this state.

              Every (white) person in the world could become a Frenchman or an American a hundred years ago. You couldn't 'become' German or Swedish or Spanish.

              Since nation comes from the Latin 'natus' = 'born', the populaces of France and the US are, strictly linguistically speaking, no nations (because a significant part of the citizenry is not native-born, or is the first to be born in the respective country).

              'Universal' means it applies everywhere. Since you hold the 'American' values to be universal, you are clearly no nationalist:

              ...that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...

              Internationalism means that you apply these values worldwide. A sheep-herder in Pakistan may have different interests, a different culture, a different set of morals and ethics, but I see him as an equal, endowed with the same rights and duties as I have. Same applies to his wife and his daughter and his gay son, which makes matters complicated...

              "Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." Franklin D. Roosevelt

              by aufklaerer on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 06:10:35 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Your viewpoint is entirely valid but, (6+ / 0-)

                pace, I do see myself as a nationalist by default because I believe in citizen empowerment and there is no real means at the global level for all persons to vote on their fate. Until that becomes possible - and is allowed - I will note that the last recourse of the ordinary person is the recognized legal/political structure that at least somewhat recognizes their initiative. That means I agree with you that Americans should not be nationalists in the chauvinistic sense, but I turn it to say they should be nationalistic in insisting on the real embodiment of their own national principles. It is a paradox, maybe part of what Henry James meant as "the complex fate" of being American ...    

                Then let us learn our range: we are something but we are not everything - Pascal

                by jlb1972 on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 06:23:41 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  These ideals (5+ / 0-)

          how come we care about the constitutional rights of the citizen, good government, and the rule of law

          would appear to fall under the fairness/reciprocity norm.

          And fairness would appear to require one to be able to reason from principle as opposed to applying situational ethics.

          On the other hand, if the fairness norm isn't important to you then it is possible to arrive at a conclusion that says "anything my leader does is correct even if he breaks laws I myself must obey."

          I've seen a sort of corollary to this from a few people posting at dKos - the corollary that says, "while it's wrong if their leader does it, it's fine and dandy if mine does."

          "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

          by Edgewater on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 05:35:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  fall under the fairness/reciprocity norm (4+ / 0-)

            They are also the founding principles of this nation, and that makes them more concrete and potentially useful to people of good will than abstract values or supposedly universal and therefore intractable psychological traits. Their usefulness is also why our founding principles are hated by so many of our fellow citizens. All internationalism has produced so far is corporate trade agreements, and yes that's an exaggeration but not that much ...

            Then let us learn our range: we are something but we are not everything - Pascal

            by jlb1972 on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 05:53:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  The dog example (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NCrissieB, kktlaw

        rubbed me the wrong way.  I may be a liberal, but I am a realist, and I know that dogs are conservatives at heart who need authority - not equality.

        The aspect of the 5th principle - purity - has been insufficiently fleshed out, yet I find it to be the most intriguing.  Perhaps I am not understanding Haidt's take on it, but I see the purity issue to be  personal and spiritual rather than consumptive.

        To my mind, the purity factor is the most important, because it refers to the self-monitoring we can do in order to become more spiritually pure.  Checking oneself from gossiping, resolving to be honest, becoming more giving to individuals and/or community - these spring from a more spiritual morality.

        When talking about bringing about social change, purity might well be the most important because it is about how we might change ourselves individually to help us all progress collectively.  Truly, this has been the source of "grassroots" - when sufficient mass is achieved by individuals improving his or her own purity - a momentum for social change is begun.  

        Look, for example, at the notion of racial equality.  Individual minds had to grapple with it and come to a moral conclusion that differed with tradition.  Inward spiritual purity eventually moves outward and foments change.

        It is a frustratingly slow process for forward thinkers, but as far as I can see, it has always been the original source for lasting social progress.

  •  Good morning Crissie and Krew (16+ / 0-)

    and thanks for a very thought-provoking diary.  Thoughts are running around in my head, much like the proverbial greyhound and mechanical rabbit.  I think I'll wait until the race is over up there in my brain and then comment further.  And by the way - I've heard that sometimes greyhounds do catch the rabbit and once they do, their racing career may be over - they figure out that it's not worth the effort.

    Hugs to all - I'm looking forward to the comments.

    •  Well, while you're cogitating ... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Orinoco, myrealname, winterbanyan, kktlaw

      ... tough night for the Red Wings, eh?  Not that I was surprised.  Pittsburgh had been underperforming in the first two games, and some of the Red Wings' supporting players had been overperforming.  So I was not shocked when that regressed toward the mean.  And frankly, the Red Wings looked tired and flat in the third period.  The Penguins outhustled them and beat them to every loose puck.  The good news, if you're a Detroit fan, is that the Red Wings are still a big (better than 2:1) favorite to win the series.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

    •  so maybe the moderates caught the rabbit? (4+ / 0-)

      Maybe some of the moderate Republicans see that, once they were successful in deregulating Wall Street and regulating our personal lives, it was a prize not worth having. Maybe they learned that all that they fought for was not worth the effort?

      Can we hope they are now ruined for life? ::Giggles::

      Good morning myrealname!

      "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." ~ Anne Frank

      by theKgirls on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 05:12:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ouch (6+ / 0-)

    It is too early to start thinking in equations. However, thank you for this diary. I usually feel like resorting to hitting the conservatives I work around with a Bible upside the head. They can measure the moral equivalency of that.

    The Spice must Flow!

    by Texdude50 on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 04:23:46 AM PDT

  •  They have the Straw Man franchise, (5+ / 0-)

    acres and acres of non-edible straw, to construct their demons.

    When in doubt, they just "make shit up".

    How can you argue with phantom facts?

    •  Don't get into a Fact Fight (7+ / 0-)

      With someone who ignores them by the barrel

      Cum unto me, send me your Rich, your brainless, your bigoted mobs. So that we may claim righteous indignation and cast dispersions on your poor

      by Buddhist Brother on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 04:33:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Don't argue for facts. (9+ / 0-)

      Argue for principles and the relative weighing of those principles.  Which is to say, argue for our values rather than the facts.  For too long we progressives conceded the values argument.  We let conservatives define the values, while we argued the facts.  While we were arguing the numbers, they got to set the equation those numbers went into.  Guess who wins that battle?

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggggs::

      •  Don't argue for values. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Sometimes you have to argue for sanity.

        I used to have these drawn-out conversations with My Conservative Pal Don. He would sometimes raise the stupidest talk-radio "arguments" in the world: puns on Obama's name, griping about Hillary Rodham Clinton's wardrobe, global warming being caused by people breathing, that sort of thing.

        I finally said look, you and I agree the word is a mess and there are a thousand things that urgently need to be fixed. We can't solve them by joking around and saying whatever entertains us. And we can't solve them by acting out emotionally.

        It's serious stuff, and--wave your flag here, Don--part of being an American is that the country really is yours to run. Don't be an idiot, do your share by being informed and sticking to reason.

        That pre-empted about two thirds of his talk-radio talking points. Seriously, listen to right-wing radio sometime. There is some actual argument, even when it's completely wrong, but so much of what they say is jokes, puns, and emotional button-pushing. We're not even at the point of debating values with these guys--they don't meet us halfway by even talking in declarative sentences with facts in them.

  •  I think most people... (5+ / 0-)

    don't have a sense of morality, only a sense of survival.

    When you see the SEIU ad, do a shot!

    by djtyg on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 04:27:27 AM PDT

    •  I think that's part of the (10+ / 0-)

      argument I'm having with myself about those five values.  In theory I agree that what is right for one person or group is right for all people, but when it comes right down to it, I suspect I would do some not very nice things in order for me and mine to survive, and then I'd rationalize my behavior later.  Sometimes I wonder if I am, at some unconscious level, a conservative, but then I look at the last two values - obedience to authority and personal purity - and I don't much care at all about either of them.  I try not to be a trouble-maker just because I don't want to pay the consequences and I'm not sure I even know exactly what personal purity is, but if it's what I think it might be, it's not something I value all that much.

      •  The problem with this approach (5+ / 0-)

        is that it does not seem to deal with the paranoid-aggressives who rationalize their behavior as loyalty to their interest group or cultural tradition. It also seems to disregard economics, which if true would make it just another plausible-seeming mystification among many on offer in this country. There are certainly universal temperamental types, but as Haidt does seem to say the context one emerges in shapes one's character just as much as inborn temperament.

        Then let us learn our range: we are something but we are not everything - Pascal

        by jlb1972 on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 04:55:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Personal purity = self-denial. (12+ / 0-)

        At its most basic level it's reflected in disgust, a response designed to keep us away from dangerous food and other toxins.  We layer other things onto that by social custom, such as limits on sexual behavior, diet and exercise, etc.  Its social value is that it steers us away from pure hedonism - doing what feels good at any moment - and encourages us to sacrifice personal pleasures for the greater social good.  It also seems to have some value in resolving cognitive dissonance, because you can do all the right things and still get bad outcomes.  The purity impulse gives us a way to rationalize those bad outcomes, if only by saying "That was a selfish desire, so it's okay if I couldn't fulfill it."

        To the extent that impulse helps us avoid harm and care for each other, and achieve greater fairness and reciprocity, it's a useful impulse.  But progressives tend to see it as a means, rather than an end in itself.

        •  That's what I thought it meant (5+ / 0-)

          and I was thinking about the people who take it to extremes - I'll never be the kind of person who will give up all pleasures in order to be pure.

        •  Their objections to teh gheys (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          myrealname, NCrissieB, kktlaw

          make sense in this posited conservative moral framework.

          I have a visceral disgust reaction to the thought of anything being stuck up my butt, or me sticking something up anyone else's butt.  Obviously this extends to considerations of third parties engaging in this.

          For a moral conservative, this personal purity + group identity + authority outweighs considerations of fair play.  Gay marriage cannot be allowed because they're disgusting, they're different, and my pastor says so.  Fair play says that throwing them into ovens may be going too far.

          For me, someone buried in the lower left quadrant of Left Libertarianism, whatever personal disgust I might have regarding certain things some gays might do in the privacy of their bedrooms is my own failing, and only has relevance to my own behavior.  Fair play tells me that these people deserve all the rights and privileges I have as a married man.  Caring for others tells me that they should get visitation rights at hospitals, spousal benefits and the same inheritance considerations my wife and I enjoy.

      •  That doesn't make you a conservative. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I think it's healthy to have the aggression and survival instincts. You might really need them someday. The concept of civilization is, in part, that you keep those things in check because society goes better without them.

        You can be the best communitarian citizen who ever lived, but find yourself temporarily outside of normal society--such as in some forms of natural disaster, a crime in progress, or some kind of emergency. Doing whatever it takes to disarm the mugger or rapist is fine when help is not at hand. "Stealing" supplies in a flood is fine if that's what gets you through. It doesn't make you a conservative or an outlaw.

        Put another way, civilization is the highest expression of our survival instincts. Bottom line, it's still just a means to an end, and sometimes it fails.

    •  That's a conservative meme. (7+ / 0-)

      We're a social species, and Haidt notes that these moral principles aren't about finding "truth."  They are about enabling us to cooperate and survive as a social species.

      So the idea that we're all basically immoral and seeking our individual survival at others' expense is a conservative meme, but it's not supported by our biology or the historical record.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

  •  Yes (14+ / 0-)

    Thanks NCrissieB. This is an excellent post and issue to bring up. I think this point, with lesser understanding to conservatives, is made in Howard Dean's book: Conservatives Without Conscience. He indicated that the G & A variables were a good deal more important to conservatives than democrats. I must say, it bothers me when people call conservatives stupid, dumb, etc. No one likes to be called this, including progressives. Yet, it can be hard to discuss deeply held beliefs in an unemotional context. Your diary offers good points to help. Here's to making the conversation more constructive.

    •  Our progressive values are arbitrary. (10+ / 0-)

      We can build a good argument for them, and we should, but it's important to recognize that when you pick those arguments apart down to their bones, you end up at arbitrary value-statements.  We can't "prove" that our values are better by any empirical study that does not include ... value-statements of what is "better."

      But neither can conservatives.

      So we should argue for our values, and realize that we need to argue for our values before we get into trying to prove specific facts in a given moral discussion.  If we can't reach agreement on the values, proving the facts is an exercise in futility.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

      •  I've found that recognizing the similarity (5+ / 0-)

        in value systems to be very helpful in my relationships with conservatives.  There are people in my life who are incredibly kind, generous, and compassionate, but also intensely conservative.  I've occasionally found it difficult to reconcile some of their opinions with the type of people I know them to be.  In those instances it helps to realize that our differences don't stem from the the fact the we value different things, just that we value them differently.

        Great diary!

  •  What exactly is meant by (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    winterbanyan, guyeda, NCrissieB, addisnana

    personal purity?

    Free University and Health Care for all, now. -8.88, -7.13

    by SoCalHobbit on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 04:28:53 AM PDT

  •  That makes too much sense (11+ / 0-)

    I'll never look at a conservative the same again.... thanks for the great diary NCrissieB

    Cum unto me, send me your Rich, your brainless, your bigoted mobs. So that we may claim righteous indignation and cast dispersions on your poor

    by Buddhist Brother on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 04:29:26 AM PDT

    •  If it helps us understand better ... (5+ / 0-)

      ... so we can frame our moral arguments better, by first arguing for our values before we get into the facts of a given situation, then it's worthwhile.

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggggs::

    •  The way I've had to adopt at looking (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NCrissieB, kktlaw

      at conservatives (and I've had alot of practice with family) is as attemptng to reason with children, as in Piaget's pre-operative stages (see above).  If I go beyond that and use critical thinking or any type of complex thought, even in the simplest sense, I hit a wall there's no getting around.  It's as if maturation past adolescence was never an option.
      Since I've accepted this way of dealing with conservatives, life is much easier.  Kind of.

      Well, I guess I don't know what you mean by "equal justice under the law." - Bushy McSpokesperson

      by gatorcog on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 08:56:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Fascinating analysis. (10+ / 0-)

    It goes a long way to explain why, for many, there is no sauce for the gander.

    Songs up at da web site! Also. . . It's Kostown, Jake. . .

    by Crashing Vor on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 04:35:27 AM PDT

  •  Good morning Crissie and Krew! (8+ / 0-)

    Presenting the differing weights that progressives and conservatives place on the 5 principles in the form of equations is very helpful. You write such clear and easily understood diaries Crissie and I always learn something new.
    Thanks and huggggggggggggggs!

  •  Good morning Crissie and Krew (11+ / 0-)

    I find it fascinating as to how a conservative or liberal is "born"...goes to the nurture vs nature debates.  I have 5 grown children, some with children of their own, and their views range from Christian Fundamentalist to nonbelief in religion; a political diversity from strict conservatism to radical liberalism.  I just wonder how many people are "hard wired" for either conservative belief system or a liberal belief system.  Family gatherings are interesting to say the least.

    •  Haidt doesn't go into that too much. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gatorcog, winterbanyan, addisnana, kktlaw

      That is, I'm not sure if he's done much research into whether we're hardwired to weigh these principles in different ways.  He does make a point to note that these are only biology's "first draft," and that we can and do change them with experience.  There is some other cognitive science that suggests our brains are much more plastic than you'd expect, and that we literally rewire our brains when we consider and work with new ideas or perspectives.  The term "change your mind" is not mere metaphor.

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggs::

      •  Indeed, changing your mind can be measured (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JanetT in MD, NCrissieB, kktlaw

        on a fMRI... that MRI that actually measures brain activity.  A number of tests along these lines have been done with interesting results.

        Brain function does change with a changing perspective or belief system.  Hence we must face the fact that we are dealing with hired-wired opposition in many cases.  How do you change that?

        I quite agree with Crissie on the "values" debate, as facts often get filtered through the hard wiring to coincide with what is already accepted.

        If you can find a way to get a conservative to re-weight his values, you will, literally, change his brain function.

        Hugggs and good morning to all!  Sorry I'm late with the huggs, but I'm a little busy actually reading a fascinating diary with absolutely fascinating comments and discussion.

        So thanks to all for an informative conversation. :)

        The austerity you see around you covers the richness of life like a veil -- Anonymous

        by winterbanyan on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 08:34:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The discussion has been wonderful today. :) (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          winterbanyan, kktlaw

          So let me join you in thanking everyone for a really wonderful, reasoned, insightful, informative discourse!

          As to the fMRI studies of new ideas leading to measurably different brain activity, would you like to share more details please?

          Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

          •  I will search for links (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            But I'm hopeless... LOL

            Basically studies were done on people who practiced, or just began, practicing meditation.  In Buddhist monks who were studied, a significant difference in brain functionality was noted vs. those who never meditated.  Buddhists monks meditate on Compassion.  Not love, not what they want, not on self-healing, but Compassion.

            In the group that began to meditate under guidance on the subject of compassion, change in brain functionality was noted after only 6-8 weeks.  Over a longer time period, the changes noted grew, and began more closely to resemble those of the monks.

            Huggs and good morning!

            The austerity you see around you covers the richness of life like a veil -- Anonymous

            by winterbanyan on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 09:58:13 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting. (7+ / 0-)

    Just reading the different variables and putting them in order for myself made me realize where I rank.

    This should be interesting.

    Abolish gun control, marriage, and helmet laws. -7.00, -3.79

    by KVoimakas on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 04:36:55 AM PDT

    •  Would you like to share? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      winterbanyan, kktlaw, KVoimakas

      I promise not to judge.  I'd have to find the site, but there is a test you can take to see how you value those different principles.

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggs::

      •  Hi there. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kestrel9000, NCrissieB

        Sorry, didn't see this 'til now.

        ranking from most important to least important:

        G - group identity and loyalty
        F - fairness and reciprocity
        M - moral correctness

        I don't even put personal purity and authority/obedience on the scale:

        I don't listen to someone because they're an authority. I listen to someone because I know they know better or they reason with me and prove their point.

        Personal purity: wtf does this mean?

        Now, the loyalty/group identity thing probably raised some eyebrows but I'll try to explain. You're loyal to your friends and family. If they fuck up, you don't go run and tell on them. You tell them, hey YOU FUCKED UP and let them fix it. And if they didn't, I'd have to see where I sit.

        I have always prized loyalty in friends and family and am fiercely loyal in return. I've been in a situation where I think what the person is doing is wrong and didn't do anything about it, but if I was doing something idiotic, I would want them to tell me first and give me a chance to fix it.    

        Abolish gun control, marriage, and helmet laws. -7.00, -3.79

        by KVoimakas on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 08:39:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  M was a sum, not a factor. :) (0+ / 0-)

          I assume by that you meant H - avoiding harm and caring for others?

          As to authority, I suspect you generally follow the law unless you have some compelling reason not to.  The law is one form of social authority.  And as for personal purity, most of us factor in self-denial - if only in the sense of not always getting what I want right now, but doing something more important for others first - as at least a useful means to other moral or social ends.

          •  oops. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I do generally follow the laws. I'll agree with that. But I don't follow the laws because it's the law. I follow the laws I agree with.

            I'm still kinda confused on personal purity. Are you saying personal purity = good of the many over the good for the 'self'?

            Abolish gun control, marriage, and helmet laws. -7.00, -3.79

            by KVoimakas on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 09:24:22 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Basically purity = self-denial. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              At its most basic, purity is the disgust response that steers us away from tainted food or water, or other toxins.  It's why we don't eat our own feces, for example.  We layer other things onto that by social custom: sexual behavior, dietary and exercise mandates, aspects of social etiquette, etc.

              At a surface level, the purity impulse steers us away from hedonism - do whatever feels best at the moment - so we'll set aside some pleasures, at least for in some contexts, to contribute to the community.  At a deeper level, it helps us deal with the cognitive dissonance we encounter when we do the right things and still get a bad outcome.  It offers us another way to rationalize those kinds of outcomes: "It was a selfish desire anyway...."

              To the extent that the purity impulse helps us to avoid harms and care for others, and better achieve fairness and reciprocity, it's a useful means.  But most progressives don't consider self-denial an end in itself.

  •  Love the TED!!!! I have spent hours (15+ / 0-)

    watching TEDtalks, and have used many of them in my AP Psych and other classes.

    I have to warn the BPI community, therefore, that once you've clicked on that link, it will be much easier to click on another, and another, and another, and next thing you know, you too are a TED-addict.

    As for Haidt's points, and your mathematical analysis of them, sure makes sense to me!

    When I first saw Haidt's presentation, I immediately thought of Philip Zimbardo's TED talk which gives a specific context (Abu Ghraib) for positioning Haidt's argument. Zimbardo is discussing the nurture/social context effects on heroism/villian-ism but sure complements the Haidt discussion in provocative ways.

    I would apply Haidt's observations to the different ways liberals and conservatives experience Christianity. Libs take those first two and see everything Christ did and said as supporting them, and being primarily about empathy, fairness, and "is it the right thing to do?" Cons seem to experience their religion as a wolf-pack of dominance--group identity and authority/obedience...and their antecedent loyalty.

    When loyalty to the group is primary, the reasons for the group's actions, and their consequences, necessarily become secondary. Combined with the lower need for cognition documented in conservatives (I think I discussed that in a previous diary), we get a group most concerned with the cohesion of the group, and less concerned with what the group is actually doing. Hence it is easier to go along with contradictory statements or blind allegiance to a flawed principle.

    I've thought of doing a series of diaries on interesting/relevant TED talks like plf's series on the Escher, Godel, Bach book. Some of these lectures are absolutely melon-exploding and should be more widely known. Especially among the DKos crowd(s).

    Rogues are preferable to imbeciles because they sometimes take a rest. - Alexandre Dumas

    by elropsych on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 04:38:56 AM PDT

  •  Personal Purity (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NCrissieB, FarWestGirl

    What exactly does "personal purity" mean? As a biological basis?  It seems a pretty slippery term with multiple possible meanings.

    And so very often arguments, left and right, go off the rails with comparisons to some sort of purity.  Pure capitalism, pure socialism, pure progressivism, pure conservatism, pure heterosexuality, pure rationality,...

  •  Reminds me of John Dean's (yep, THAT John Dean) (14+ / 0-)

    NY Times bestseller "Conservatives Without Conscience" that he wrote in collaboration with Sen. Barry Goldwater (who much earlier had written "Conscience of a Conservative").

    Unfortunately Sen. Goldwater passed away during Dean's writing, but it was a very enlightening book into the psychological matrix of modern day conservatives.

  •  Conservative : Liberal (10+ / 0-)

    as Hemorrhoids : Ice Cream.

    Meaning, we're not just opposites. We're fundamentally and profoundly different, in ways that don't easily if at all lend themselves to linear contrast, like black/white or up/down. It's more like black/hamster or up/arugula. We just think, feel and act differently, without an obvious translation layer. We're wired differently.

    I liken them to trolls. Trolls, whether intentionally or not, lie without incident, like you and I breath. It's what they do, what they are, what they're about. They don't even think of it as lying, but rather as getting their points across, the fact that they're based on lies and illogical being utterly of no consequence. We're talking about an inherently sociopathic thought process that by its nature doesn't allow itself to be corrected.

    It's also about people who are inherently faith-based rather than fact and logic-based thinkers. When you're the former, fact and logic are shaped to fit the desired outcome, not vice-versa. E.g. Richard Clark didn't warn anyone of an impending attack, even though, of course, he did. It doesn't suit Mr. Cheney that he warned everyone in the administration from the president on down that we were going to be hit, so he lies about it, and does so with such ease that one suspects that he believes that saying so makes it so, or makes it might as well be so. I.e. the truth is what you need it to be, not what it is (sidebar: if I gave a damn about the guy, I'd say that he's showing signs of early dementia, be it endogenous or exogenous in origin).

    I know people like this, in terms of how they think. It's pointless to argue with them because to argue purposefully with anyone, both of you need to be capable of willing to recognize fact and logic, and since they can't, or won't, it's a non-starter (another sidebar: this is why we have courts, judges and juries). At most, if they're semi-capable of rational thinking, as soon as they grasp that they're losing the argument, they get all riled up and petulant and say something mean and nasty, and shut down the discussion instantly. And that's no fun. Who wants to argue with a grouch?

    But if one MUST argue with them, I find that the best way is to be as disruptive of their "thought" processes as possible, via snark, leading them on and then doing a 180, being provocative, mocking them, etc. If you're can't win the debate, at least have fun by frustrating them more than they're frustrating you. Yes, of course 9/11 was all Clinton's fault. That's why Bush let Bin Laden get away bwahahahaha!

    Ah, conservatives. You just want to pat them on the head and say "Good boy!".

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president!" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 04:48:06 AM PDT

    •  Haidt's analysis - (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AlanF, myrealname, winterbanyan, NCrissieB

      at least from the summaries I've seen, just doesn't seem to deal with the will-to-power or with the rampant individualism of these "conformists." (On the other hand, Robert Altmeyer's seems more clear-eyed - maybe because he's Canadian?) I always suspect this kind of psychological analysis because they all seem (intentionally?) divorced from economics and the concrete, material motivations for behavior. I end up feeling like I'm being subjected to mystification, just another version of "ah, the poor are always with us ..."

      Then let us learn our range: we are something but we are not everything - Pascal

      by jlb1972 on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 05:05:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Haidt would disagree. (8+ / 0-)

      It's not that conservatives are immune to facts and logic.  What progressives too often ignore is that facts are the 'numbers' we plug into a moral equation and logic is the 'arithmetic' of computing those numbers in that equation.

      But if we're not using the same equation - and Haidt's research shows we're not! - then we're going to get different answers.  It's not that they disagree about the facts (numbers).  It's not that they can't add (logic).  It's that they are using a different moral equation.

      I'm saying we progressives need to argue more for our moral equation, and less about "facts and logic" (numbers and arithmetic).

      A side benefit of that is that we stop dehumanizing conservatives as cognitively stunted creatures that can't understand "facts and logic."  Because that dehumanizing, as Haidt notes, does not get us any closer to finding common ground.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

      •  I don't understand (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        An equation is either fact and logic-based or not. If we think like 1 + 1 = 2 and they "think" like 1 + 1 = 3, then that's not a "different" equation, that's a WRONG equation, with which there can be no understanding, reconciliation or common ground-finding.

        I think you're wrong about this. This isn't a matter of two different kinds of thinking. This is a matter of rational and honest vs. irrational and dishonest thinking. Their "equation", as it were, is basically altering and picking the facts and logic to fit the premise and desired outcome. Sure, it's technically two "different" kinds of thinking, but in the way that grilled swordfish and a rotting fish carcass are both "foods".

        And it's not us who are dehumanizing them. They're deghumanizing themselves, by rejected centuries if not millenia-old modes of thinking, feeling and acting about which there can simply be NO negotiation let alone compromise. I.e. you either accept them, or you're an enemy of the people. I'm talking about the golden rule, which is codified into our prevailing moral code and law. If we can make an impact with some of these people by talking to them, then that's fine. But we can't "meet halfway" or accomodate them substantively. They either accept these rules, or render themselves as outcasts, to be treated as such. To do otherwise is to invite trouble into one's house.

        I'm all for talking to people who don't think like us, if there's a point. What I'm not for is watering down how we think and what we believe in. Perhaps we can "convert" some of them to our way of thinking. As for the rest, sooner or later talk always proves to be useless, and the only proper action is to either ignore them, or actively fight them. You really think that raving racists like Gingrich and Buchanan are amenable to rational discussion? They're dug their graves and I see that we just bury them.

        "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president!" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

        by kovie on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 01:22:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  A simple example.... (0+ / 0-)

          Let's assume my equations are 'real' and not merely exemplary.  Let's further assume that, in order for something to be 'morally correct,' it must score at least 5 on that scale.  Finally, let's assume we and conservatives agree on the following facts (number values for variables):

          H = 1
          F = 1
          G = 0
          A = 1
          P = 1

          In our progressive equation:

          M = (2*(H+F))+G+A+P = 6, so it's 'correct.'

          In the conservative equation:

          M = H+F+G+A+P = 4, so it's 'incorrect.'

          Here we'd agree on the facts (numbers), and conservatives aren't doing the logic (arithmetic) wrong.  In their conservative equation, where they weigh all principles equally, the sum of 4 is correct; because 4 is less than the threshold of 5 they judge that action morally wrong.  But in our progressive equation, where we double the values of H and F, the sum of 6 is correct; because 6 is greater than the threshold of 5, we judge the action morally correct.  The difference is not on facts (number value of variables) or logic (arithmetic), but on moral values ... which of the moral equations we use to solve that moral question.

          In order to convince them, we can't merely argue facts and logic.  Facts and logic won't get us to agreement if we're applying them in different moral equations, as Haidt's research suggests we are.  We progressives must first specify our moral values - our equation - in any moral argument.  If we can't reach agreement on that, or at least acknowledgment that we're applying different equations, the facts and logic of a given issue will often be irrelevant.

    •  I guess I don't know the (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AlanF, marina, winterbanyan, guyeda, NCrissieB

      same kind of conservative you do.  Most of the conservatives I know, admittedly not the most rabid right-wingers, are my friends.  I have two brothers.  One lives a very conservative life.  He's active in his church, financially frugal, married to his high school sweetheart for 45 years, raised his kids in a very traditional way, but he's thoughtful, intelligent, and need I even say it - a Democrat (of course, if he's thoughtful and intellligent).
      My other brother is a Republican even though his lifestyle is completely different than my older brother's - divorced, self-indulgent, absent during half his daughter's childhood.  I love them both dearly and we have fun discussions.  I find that I have more in common with pretty much everyone I meet than I have differences.  

      •  I'm talking about crazy far-right conservatives (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        who believe in wars of aggression, keeping down women and minorities, irresponsible tax cuts for the rich, massive deregulation, telling women what to do with their bodies, teaching creationism, denying global warming, etc. I.e. the kind who clearly dominate the GOP these days and are pretty much the only real faction on the right. I have no problem with rational conservatives who argue their beliefs based on facts and logic. It's the crazies who disgust me, as they should us all.

        "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president!" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

        by kovie on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 01:27:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Fascinating subject (6+ / 0-)

    And great diary.  Thank you.

    Fox "News" = Republican PRAVDA.

    by chumley on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 04:48:08 AM PDT

  •  Not to roam too far out in New Age Space, but (11+ / 0-)

    it is my experience, and therefore ever-firming conviction that it's all about being fearful.  When you are primarily fearful (of change, to threats, of surviving, you name it), then you want to cling to the devil you know.  Hence, you are conservative in both the political and social sense.  OTOH, if by some blessed and marvelous fortune, you are lacking in the that basic fear-filled approach to your life and what you see out there in the wide-world, then you are/tend to be open to the true dynamic of life, which is change.

    I dunno about moral "equations", as I'm just an artsy-fartsy performer/writer type, but the diarist seems fairly spot-on when she/he states

    And progressives consider that a cardinal moral principle alongside avoiding harm and caring for others.  Given a situation where fairness and reciprocity suggest one answer but group loyalty suggests another answer, and all other things being equal, we're likely to choose fairness and reciprocity.  We take it as a given that the law should apply equally to everyone, even to ourselves and other people like us.

    Seems like if you are scared shitless that someone's going to rattle your cage, you cannot have that approach to life....

    •  That's an important insight. :) (5+ / 0-)

      It's probably a mistake to treat either progressives' or conservatives' weightings of those principles as fixed in stone.  They are more likely at least somewhat fluid.  The more fearful you are, or the more outcast you perceive yourself and your group, the more likely you'll weigh group loyalty above the other principles ... at least in that situation.

      Put a bunch of progressives out on a soccer pitch, on the same team, and they'll likely stand together against a "bad call" (i.e.: one that disadvantages their team) just as loudly as would conservatives.  In that context, group loyalty tips the scales over fairness and reciprocity, and that tipping happens at the perceptual level.  We "see" the play happen one way.  The other side's players "see" the play happen another way.  Unless there's some replay, neither will agree that the (theoretically neutral) referee saw the play as it "really" happened.

      To the extent that a society (or a political movement) casts itself and the world in terms of a battle for survival between Us and Them, its members will more likely weigh group loyalty above fairness and reciprocity.

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggggs::

    •  Fear goes to "Why" conservatives use such a (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      result-oriented and corrupt equation.

      I think you hit an important point.

      Dealing w/conservatives, I also find that when you question a conservative employing the "M = H + F + G + A + P formula" (thx NCrissieB), you quickly discover fear inspired assumptions. Whether it is fear of the unknown, foreigners, the future, or "other" people/things -- the first reaction is one of fear, the second is the application of the "H + F + G + A + P formula" to justify the visceral conclusion.



      Religion is like sodomy: both can be harmless when practiced between consenting adults but neither should be imposed upon children.

      by Caoimhin Laochdha on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 11:16:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Its more than just these factors (9+ / 0-)

    Right-wingers believe in "noble lies" - a conviction that lets them convince themselves that its OK to abandon honest, rational debate and to make shit up and mislead people whenever convenient...

    We must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

    by Minerva on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 04:53:11 AM PDT

    •  That fits into these factors. (5+ / 0-)

      "Noble lies" serve group loyalty or obedience to authority.  And it's important to note that Haidt does not offer these five principles as guides to "truth."  They are evolutionary traits that enable us to cooperate and survive as a social species.  Their purpose is cooperation and survival, not discerning "truth."  So your "noble lies" thesis - with which I agree - is not inconsistent with Haidt's thesis.  In fact it's entirely consistent with his thesis.

      Good morning! ::hugggggggs::

  •  I'm Thinking Some of These are Really Ranges (7+ / 0-)

    A psychological range I often dealt with as a sailing instructor was the boldness vs timidity scale.

    Everybody is some of each, every group of humans has people that range from extremes, and we never outgrow one or the other because nature constantly selects for both. Groups that have too much boldness will take too many risks and die out; those that have too much timidity won't take enough risks when conditions are unusual or unexpected, and meet the same fate.

    In the equation of the diary, group identity and loyalty looks to me like one side of a range similar to bold vs timid that would be group identification on one side and individualism on the other.


    Anyway, it's an interesting take.

    Many of us recognize in theory that conservatives have some very different values, but much of the commentary on the site appears to take it for granted that they have the same values and that they solve problems the same way we do.

    Anything that can break more of the left out of those delusions is likely a step forward.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 04:55:09 AM PDT

    •  The "Assuming you already agree with me" fallacy. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, winterbanyan, addisnana

      And yes, that is all too common in our political discourse.  When it comes to values - the equations with with we weigh moral and political questions - both progressives and conservatives tend to begin with the "Assuming you already agree with me" fallacy ... and then wonder why we disagree.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

  •  I'd advise we stop minding hurting conservatives (8+ / 0-)

    They seem to feel entitled to abuse others and suffer no shame or negative consequence for it.

    If you are pro-torture you are outside the group as far as I'm concerned. You have no legitimate say in anything of moral consequence.

    •  What You Mean "We," Diverse Man? (6+ / 0-)

      If you mean our politicians, it's not the Republicans they're afraid of insulting, it's the major sponsors they both have. It only looks like fear of Republicans.

      It's interesting to see how sanity in government hasn't really changed much in the major points since good old Vietnam. Standing for minimal rule of Constitution and international law still defines us as radical lefties, still gets us marginalized by most Democrats.

      No matter how nicely we behave in the streets.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 05:04:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Your suggesting we become ... conservatives. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cskendrick, winterbanyan

      Your comment below - "bold progressive leadership that stands up for its own" - is a contradiction in terms.  Standing up for our own as an end in itself would make us ...

      ... conservatives.

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggggs::

      •  I doubt it (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jlb1972, winterbanyan, NCrissieB

        The Framers understood the purpose and value of vigorous defense of one's values, liberty and interests.

        We must contend with our brethren on the does not mean we need to adopt their chosen modes of discourse, namely going to church on Sunday to commit cold blooded murder, then working late on Tuesdays to torture detainees, then come home to abuse our spouses and children.

        That sort of freedom is not desirable.

  •  The Paranoid Style (10+ / 0-)

    When any group feels embattled or victimized, the "loyalty to group" factor tends to go up: we "circle the wagons." And when a group's ideology is challenged, or perceived to be, the "personal purity" factor is intensified; you get witch hunts and litmus tests.
    This can apply to any group, and I certainly saw plenty of it among my leftist and  radical colleagues in the 60's/70's. However, the American conservatives seem to have developed a permanent and self-reinforcing paranoia. Even when they control all three branches of government and dominate the MSM, they still see themselves as a beleaguered minority that must rally behind  the fearless leader and set aside the niceties of fairness and compassion while the battle rages.

    Plangentarchy: dictatorship of the whiners

    by Perry the Imp on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 05:02:19 AM PDT

    •  Some people are paranoid (6+ / 0-)

      because they imagine that all others are as hostile and aggressive as they are, e.g., Dick Cheney, and go out of their way to make enemies. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      Then let us learn our range: we are something but we are not everything - Pascal

      by jlb1972 on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 05:08:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's not entirely paranoia. (6+ / 0-)

      Conservatives are losing, and have been for quite a few years, despite their political dominance.  Look at the younger generation.  They are less racist, less sexist, less homophobic, less xenophobic than their grandparents.  I'd argue that's largely a function of integrative progress made during the civil rights struggles of the 1950s-1960s.  But the conservatives are losing, generation by generation, and they recognize it.

      So their sense of being besieged and beleaguered is not entirely paranoia.  It's reality.

      And a good reality at that.

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggs::

      •  Losing demographically (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jlb1972, Perry the Imp, NCrissieB

        does not equate to losing political power as long as conservatives are able to suppress votes, rig elections, and bully legislators. I'm not only talking about the past eight years; I'm also talking about the collapse of Reconstruction and the mess that followed it.

        Once a demographic loss reaches a certain magnitude, it becomes possible, under certain circumstances (a popular third-party candidate, a collapse in the economy), for liberals to gain back some political power. But they can never get as far as they would like because the forces of money are always conservative, always tied to group loyalty, where the group is the financial elite.

        Listen to progressive talk radio 6 a.m. - 7 p.m. every weekday at

        by AlanF on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 09:04:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  suppress votes, rig elections, (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AlanF, Perry the Imp, NCrissieB

          and bully legislators

          Add to that their buying up the mass media that post-war Americans were trained to depend on for all cultural cues and the disappearance of any strong elite liberal opposition after the economic and social disruptions of the 70's. One of Albert Hirschman's identified conservative rules-of-thumb in The Rhetoric of Reaction was that the economic elites always win anyway because they always control the organs of information and opinion. The civic journalism of the Liberal Consensus era was partial anyway but unfortunately short-lived - it had real promise.

          Then let us learn our range: we are something but we are not everything - Pascal

          by jlb1972 on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 09:59:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the great insight. (7+ / 0-)

    There is a reason (so I rationalize) that I always take the time to read Morning Feature, even when I'm totally up to my eyeballs with two full heapin' helpings of work. (It's that happy time for me when I end up doing two full-time jobs. Hooray for work, but boo hiss for ridiculous work cycles!)

    Anyway, this was a very helpful explanation. I expect talking about moral foundations (and the weighting thereof) could have some influence on people who are not too far into (or totally committed to) a conservative point of view. Unfortunately, I know too many people who believe that (for example) "personal purity" is indeed of equal or greater importance than fairness, and will cite chapter and verse to "prove it." (Just as a small sample, here's a Mormon scripture along those lines: "I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance"—Doctrine & Covenants 1:31. So of course purity is paramount, otherwise God won't be on your side!)

    I think overall religiosity, including degree of belief in biblical/scriptural inerrancy, plays a big role in American social and political thought. Unfortunately.

    Book excerpts: nonlynnear; other writings: mofembot.

    by mofembot on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 05:04:11 AM PDT

    •  PS: BTW, I nearly always try to comment (5+ / 0-)

      in the diaries that are the most meaningful and content-rich so that I will always have a way to link back to them! Thanks again!

      (However, one should not think that if I don't comment, the diary isn't meaningful or content-rich; sometimes time simply does not permit, or the diary has scrolled away before I've seen it, etc., etc.!)

      Book excerpts: nonlynnear; other writings: mofembot.

      by mofembot on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 05:06:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yay for you being busy! Boo for not being here! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mofembot, winterbanyan, addisnana


      As to the content, I agree.  We progressives need to recognize that we'll never get 100% agreement on our values, even among ourselves.  Certainly we'll never sway ultra-conservatives, or at least we'll sway only a few.  There's that "middle 50%" who can be swayed, if we frame our arguments well.  I'm suggesting we need to begin by arguing for our moral values - our "equation" - and then argue the facts of a given case.  Unless we first reach agreement on the "equation," the facts won't get us there.

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggggggs::

  •  This appears to be a polite way of identifying (4+ / 0-)

    that conservatives are racist and selfish and  that those behaviors color their moral decisions.  .  

    Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity. Horace Mann (and btw, the bike in kayakbiker is a bicycle)

    by Kayakbiker on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 05:10:50 AM PDT

    •  Not quite. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pamelabrown, winterbanyan

      And framing the discussion in those terms doesn't really help the argument, in my view.  We do have different values, and we need to argue for our values - our "equation" - rather than merely insulting the others' values.  Starting a discussion by insulting the other side is conservative tactic ... it celebrates group identity and loyalty (we're not like Those Idiots) ... without any pretense of fairness or reciprocity.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

  •  All of us (5+ / 0-)

    need to unite against the oligarchs, the plutocrats and the kleptocrats.

    I sounds like the way to get the right on board is not individually,
    but though their leaders...

    Free University and Health Care for all, now. -8.88, -7.13

    by SoCalHobbit on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 05:15:41 AM PDT

  •  try M = .2H + .2F + .2G + .2A + .2P, although it (5+ / 0-)

    will confuse those who are so socialized to think

    - that they're math illiterates,

    - that their socialization is hard wiring,

    - that they're paragraphs, chapters and books containing barely a number are somehow useful,

    - that ALL work is useful regardless of how pointless the meeting, tome or presentation.

    = probably about 90% of the USA's college graduates!

    interesting diary.

    btw, since the dawn of agricultural surplus there's been a ruling elite whose raison d'etre has been:

    - steal the surplus so they don't have to work creating the surplus,

    - steal the surplus to 'provide' security from other thieves,

    their 'moral' equation is simple -


    of course we don't agree with them - FUCK THEM, they need to be beaten and caged.


    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 05:26:48 AM PDT

  •  George Lakoff has a lot to say on this topic (9+ / 0-)

    on the distinct differences between the liberal/progressive nurturing-parent metaphor and the conservative/regressive strict-father metaphor.

    on how each colors the way we interpret/filter the data we receive.

    (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

    by Enterik on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 05:32:21 AM PDT

    •  I've read Lakoff and agree. (8+ / 0-)

      I suspect Haidt and Lakoff would find themselves agreeing more than they disagree, though they have slightly different perspectives.  Haidt makes a good argument for what Lakoff calls "biconceptualism," of recognizing that all five of these principles can be useful and belong in our "moral toolbox."

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

      •  Lakoff's Metaphor is a later revision of Haidt? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        winterbanyan, NCrissieB

        Perhaps, each of Lakoff's descriptive categories represents individuals with different combinations of values for Haidt's variables. I say this because Lakoff's conception seems to depend upon a received sense of ones place in society as opposed to an innate ethological tendency. Or perhaps as we mature into fully sentient humans each term of formulation becomes a complex equation unto itself.

        Regardless, how do I convince my conservatarian friend that caring for others is as important as personal purity? Despite being a self-professed Christian, he is obsessed with personal purity (his and others) and does not seem to have the ears with which to truely hear Jesus' message of altruism. The task is daunting...

        (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

        by Enterik on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 06:56:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ask "Why?" and listen, and keep exploring. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AlanF, winterbanyan, kktlaw

          To answer your last question first, ask "Why?", listen to the answer, and keep exploring together.  The italicized language does matter.  We tend to be unwilling to explore our values with someone when we perceive the other person isn't really trying to explore ours at all, but merely to convince us of theirs.  Be willing to learn, and not only willing to teach.

          As to the first part of your response, Haidt and Lakoff have slightly different perspectives.  Lakoff is unabashedly political and normative; he believes progressive values are inherently superior and he's advocating for them.  Haidt isn't coming from that place; he's examining what moral principles we might inherit in our genetic makeup and how they enable us to cooperate and survive as a social species.

          Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

  •  I haven't taken a look at the TED talk yet (10+ / 0-)

    but my initial reaction to the argument is that progressives simply consider a larger group than do conservatives. Our in-group tends to be human beings, (or living things for the extreme progressives) while conservatives limit their in-group to people who look, act and think like they do.

    Within the in-group, the other principles apply. To a conservative, torturing an out-group person promotes avoiding harm and caring for others -- that is, harm to and caring for others in the group. To a progressive, what looks to a conservative as an out group other, looks to us like a member of our in-group, so torture causes harm rather than avoids it.

    Within the group, police power is used to ensure fairness and reciprocity, including investigation and due process, avoidance of overreaction and vigilantism. Police power is irrelevant applied to outsiders, though, since fairness and reciprocity aren't applicable, just avoiding harm to in-group members. Thus the conservative reaction to world courts, cooperative investigations, using police methods on "terrorists"... this assumes these are criminal members of the in-group, rather than members of the out-group toward whom any measures to keep the in-group safe are deemed appropriate.

    Good food for thought.

    Good morning! and ::huggggggggggggs:: to all. :)

    "You can't get something for nothing...It's time to stop being stupid." Bob Herbert

    by Orinoco on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 05:40:02 AM PDT

    •  That's a bit oversimplified. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AlanF, Orinoco, winterbanyan, addisnana, kktlaw

      In fact most of us have lots of in-groups: national, racial, gender, regional, corporate, religious, sports affiliations, favored topics or TV programs, etc.  And it's important that we're aware of our group identity in any given setting, as different groups have (and need!) different authorities, rules and roles, etc.  So it's a bit oversimplified to say that progressives' in-group is "all humans" or even "all life."  You're in the right track, but I think once you watch the video you'll see some distinctions that aren't immediately obvious from my brief summary.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

      •  Undoubtedly pre-caffinated oversimplification (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AlanF, jlb1972, winterbanyan, NCrissieB, kktlaw

        but when talking about moral questions, I doubt many people argue from their having an affinity with others who share a favorite blog, sports team or tv program.

        In saying torture is immoral, progressives include Muslim detainees in with people who should not be tortured. Indeed, we look at international laws, our Constitution, and our treaties and internal laws, and argue that all people should not be tortured, probably under the avoid harm and care for others basis.

        Conservatives do not view torture, applied to Muslim detainees, to be immoral, because Muslim detainees are "the worst of the worst." In arguing that torture "works" conservatives are saying that torture keeps "us" safe from harm. In this case, "us" obviously does not include the people being tortured, nor does it include the folks actually doing the torturing, neither of whom are included in conservatives little in-group.

        "You can't get something for nothing...It's time to stop being stupid." Bob Herbert

        by Orinoco on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 07:12:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Rec'd, tipped and alas, lurked. (4+ / 0-)

    even more huuuuuuuuuuugs and huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuks to all is all I can manage today.

  •  Hmmm... (6+ / 0-)

    avoiding harm and care for others + fairness and reciprocity = empathy

    Does that work??

  •  Your comment made me think a bit (6+ / 0-)

    I find it difficult to have moral discussions with conservatives.

    You can say the same thing about many so-called liberals or progressives. It's not about the political philosophy that is difficult, what makes discourse difficult is ego and opinions. If someone thinks they are always correct about their philosophy and opinions, they could be the most liberal person in the world, moral discourse will be difficult with that person too. Just look how many times you write something here, think you have a well written, moral argument and bam! You get nailed and treated as if you killed someone's cat (sorry,..pootie). The fact you write something expressing your frustration with having a moral discourse with conservatives already brands you as someone who does not want to listen to them, you want them to listen to you and agree with you. If only life was so simple.

    Those are my principles. If you don't like them, I have others.

    by tazz on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 06:08:47 AM PDT

    •  That's one reading of it. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tazz, jlb1972, winterbanyan, kktlaw

      Another reading is that I took some time to learn why conservatives reason as they do - and they do reason, but using a different moral equation - so I can have more productive moral conversations with them.  Which of those readings you choose is, of course, your own choice.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

      •  And frankly the din of conservative rhetoric (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AlanF, NCrissieB, kktlaw

        and propaganda is so deafening, that it takes real character to give them the benefit of the doubt when they would never do the same for us - out of principle. Surface equivalences can hide a very disproportionate reality.

        Then let us learn our range: we are something but we are not everything - Pascal

        by jlb1972 on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 10:01:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  unintelligent or uneducated (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bustacap, NCrissieB, kktlaw, FarWestGirl

    I don't assume conservatives are unintelligent or uneducated, and I'd be surprised that most progressives would assume most conservatives were so.  Sure there are many who are, and probably a lot more who are willfully ignorant of issues.

    More than one right wing commentator has been caught off camera stating that what they say on camera is BS.  I think a lot of the audience also knows it is BS, but they are either eager to believe it, or think the "lying for Jesus" approach is morally acceptable.

    Actually I kind of wish they were unintelligent or uneducated, because I think what they really are is much worse.  They are hypocritical, intolerant, selfish, greedy, lack empathy, and have a bunch of other characteristics that show flaws that are chosen, not a condition of circumstance.

    •  It's certainly an argument I read here often. (5+ / 0-)

      If you've never encountered the "how can conservatives be so stupid" argument, or its tacit corollary of "we need better education," then we've read very different subsets of the discourse here.  And I've read the same arguments in conservative discourse ... about progressives.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

      •  There is a huge presence here (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AlanF, winterbanyan, NCrissieB, kktlaw

        of the traditional liberal faith in education or intelligence as necessarily leading to enlightened values and behavior. That's always seemed a dangerous notion in that it self-flatteringly underestimates the capacities of our foes/rivals. (I also suspect that the main contribution of education to moral progress has been that people with greater opportunities behave better.) It also seems to be a somewhat desperate substitution of divine law with natural knowledge, and as Whitehead said nature is an ambiguous standard. I tend to feel that good character, by which I mean honesty about oneself and the courage to accept others as they are, is more of a factor in active intelligence than genetic brainpower. Fear and hatred distort what you can see.

        Then let us learn our range: we are something but we are not everything - Pascal

        by jlb1972 on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 08:21:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree with you. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jlb1972, winterbanyan, kktlaw

          I think education is important, but I also think it has to include teaching - gasp! - moral values.  I know that's something many progressives decry, but if we are to be a nation (a people) we do need to share some basic moral values: that we have a duty to avoid harm and care for others, that we have a duty to work for fairness and equity in society.

          If conservatives are the only ones who teach moral values, guess whose moral values get taught?

          Good morning! ::hugggggggggs::

          •  This brings to mind some of the (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Stanley Fish vs. John Searle debates from the 70's about the actual existence of free speech and what seemed to be Fish's sophistic argument that virtue should be enforced by law, i.e. hate speech should be outlawed. I can't go for that and didn't then, and it looked to me at the time like the first practical signs of despair in the Enlightenment project.  

            Then let us learn our range: we are something but we are not everything - Pascal

            by jlb1972 on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 10:09:51 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I also believe that improving public education (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jlb1972, NCrissieB, kktlaw

          is one of the hardest tasks imaginable, because there is no agreement on how to measure success, because content is subject to political pressure (from both sides) from outside the schoolroom, and because neither teachers nor students are machines. You can't simply increase one parameter (salaries, length of schoolday, teacher-student ratio, number of enrichment programs, focus on core subjects, focus on non-core subjects, focus on extracurriculars, employment requirements for teachers) without unintended effects.

          Unintended effects also kick in when a teacher tries to present a progressive viewpoint. Conservatives may withdraw their students or lead a push to silence or fire the teacher, or insist on some level of balanced debate that all sides find unsatisfactory. And because students are as likely to rebel against their teachers' views as to absorb them, it's not clear that simply exposing a given child to progressive viewpoints will make him or her more progressive. I do think that there's a positive good to exposing children to progressive ideas, especially ones that they won't pick up elsewhere, but it's not clear how much of that a teacher is allowed to do.

          Listen to progressive talk radio 6 a.m. - 7 p.m. every weekday at

          by AlanF on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 01:49:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There is no "complete" solution. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AlanF, jlb1972, kktlaw

            Which is to say, there's no one set of policies that, if adopted, will convince the vast majority of the next generation toward progressive moral values.  If that were possible, we wouldn't see essentially the same progressive/conservative split along the same moral axes across so many different cultures around the world.

            There may be inherent biological elements involved, but it's also important to note that our political leanings - and our moral equations - may be a bit more fluid than Haidt's research would suggest at first glance.  His research involves a snapshot from each survey respondent, and people who completed his survey six years ago might give different answers today, and different answers again six years from now ... and we'd still see the same splits in those snapshots.

            It may be that we upweigh and downweigh different moral principles according to the context, and in fact I'd argue there's good evidence that we do exactly that.  I've watched progressives watch a sporting event, and their progressive values of fairness can take a back seat to group identity very quickly; the ref made a "bad call" because that call went against "our team," and no amount of visual evidence that the call was factually correct will change their conclusion.

            Still, recognizing that we do use different moral equations is a huge step toward understanding why and how we can disagree on moral issues, even if we can reach agreement on the underlying facts.

            Thank you for your comment! ::huggggggggggs::

  •  Kohlberg's stages of moral development (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AlanF, NCrissieB

    Perhaps it's more about what stage of moral development one has achieved (or inherited through family and community environment).

    From Wiki

    Level 1 (Pre-Conventional)

    1. Obedience and punishment orientation

    (How can I avoid punishment?)

    1. Self-interest orientation

    (What's in it for me?)
    Level 2 (Conventional)

    1. Interpersonal accord and conformity

    (Social norms)
    (The good boy/good girl attitude)

    1. Authority and social-order maintaining orientation

    (Law and order morality)
    Level 3 (Post-Conventional)

    1. Social contract orientation
    1. Universal ethical principles

    (Principled conscience)

    Find your own voice--the personal is political.

    by In her own Voice on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 06:41:31 AM PDT

    •  Kohlberg takes a normative approach. (7+ / 0-)

      As does Piaget (cited by Edgewater, above).  Both are trying to describe what they believe to be "better" states of moral (cognitive, for Piaget) attitudes.  They present it as descriptive, based on age, but the "better" is implicit in an assumption that we tend to get "better" with age and experience.

      Haidt's approach is different, in that he examines moral reasoning from an evolutionary perspective.  He sees moral reasoning as a set of tools we humans use to better cooperate and survive as a social species.  He makes very clear that these moral principles are not about finding "truth;" they're about making us better able to cooperate and survive in large social groups (cities, regions, nations, etc.).

      The 'controlling' moral impulses of group identity and loyalty, obedience to authority, and personal purity do serve a role in that.  The difference is that conservatives tend to esteem those as ends in themselves, whereas progressives see them as means to the cardinal virtues of avoiding harm and caring for others, and increasing fairness and reciprocity.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

  •  I haven't read all of the comments... (10+ / 0-) I apologize if someone's already covered this - but it seems that this would explain why they emphasize Pelosi's knowledge of torture in their defense of Cheney/Bush.  They hope to trick us with group loyalty, and they don't realize that we rank that below our commitment to fairness and reciprocity.

  •  I think I see your formula in an issue (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    winterbanyan, NCrissieB

    I'm involved in -- immigration. I'm actively involved in a group called Neighbors in Support of Immigrants. We formed the group after some of us became convinced that Comprehensive Immigration Reform will pass. Once it passes, all the undocumented folks become potential citizens rather than just laborers, cheap laborers or people to deport. So I see our group caring for others.

    On the conservative side, its more tribal (why are you people here, go back), more authoritarian (you broke the law, go back) you aren't pure (you aren't white, go back), and group identity (you're culture sucks, go back.

    Re: Fairness and reciprocity, this gets a little tricky. Some progressives (with their conservative allies on this issue), and I read them on DKos, feel that jobs are being taken away and that taxes aren't being paid sufficiently for the services used.

    So as not to get into an immigration debate, I'll stop here.  

    •  Immigration is certainly a 'moral' issue ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LI Mike, winterbanyan, kktlaw

      ... as Haidt would define 'morality,' meaning a set of principles that enable us to cooperate and survive as a social species.  And as a social species, who is or isn't included in our nation - for whom We the People assume a greater duty of collective care - is a very relevant question.

      Again, it's important to note that Haidt's principles aren't about finding "truth."  They're about enabling us to cooperate and survive as a social species.  His study included other social mammals for that reason.  He's trying to understand and describe when and how social animals transcend our separateness and put our groups' interests above our individual interests.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggs::

    •  Hi, LI Mike :) (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LI Mike, NCrissieB, kktlaw

      Someday you need to write a diary here on your dealings with immigration.  I'd love to read it!

      I offer one case in point:  Cesar Millan, of Dog Whisperer fame, has taken a lot of dings because he crossed the border with the aid of a "coyote", becoming an illegal immigrant and working sub rosa for some pet care shops.  Conservatives rose in rage and wanted him sent back after this became known as a result of his huge fame on NatGeo.

      Only one problem: as soon as he had gathered enough money, Millan paid a fine for coming here illegally and then was permitted to begin the naturalization process.  Why?  Because he stepped forward, confessed to breaking the law, paid the fine...and was found to be an extremely productive new member of our society, one we didn't have any real reason to send back.  Nor did he ever once use "public assistance", the bugaboo so many conservatives rail about.

      Conservatives find this unpalatable.  Progressives ask, "What's the problem?  He's paying taxes, he's working, supporting his family..."

      My own Dad, a dyed-in-the-wool Repug who lives in Texas once said to me, "I don't care if they come here illegally as long as they work and pay taxes."

      It seems his idea of being a good citizen varies even from his rabid cohorts.

      Huggs and good morning!

      The austerity you see around you covers the richness of life like a veil -- Anonymous

      by winterbanyan on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 09:47:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good story winterbanyan (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fumie, winterbanyan, NCrissieB

        I met so many good people working in the safety net hospital where I worked that I feel really strongly about the issue.

        One of my fiends, from Guatemala, came here as a domestic, earned citizenship, and is now a translator par excellence in the hospital system where I worked.

        She has three daughters: one is in the Army and just returned from Iraq, another dtr is getting her PHd in Biochemistry, and the youngest is getting her BA at Long Island Univ. Model citizens or what.

        •  Model citizens indeed! (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fumie, NCrissieB, kktlaw

          Back when I could afford a house cleaner, I hired a lady and her husband who had come here from Brazil on a green card.  

          They worked their behinds off.  Today they own their own home, and have a darling daughter.

          Unfortunately, they have decided to remain here on green-card status rather than become citizens.  Why?

          Because the wife has spina bifida, and when it causes her serious problems, she can fly back to Brazil and get free health care.  Here, no insurance company would cover her.  A sad commentary if you ask me, since they love this country and wish they could become citizens.

          The greatest strength of this country has always come from immigrant populations, people who are willing to work hard toward a better future.  Yet we want to kick them back like so much jetsam.  

          The austerity you see around you covers the richness of life like a veil -- Anonymous

          by winterbanyan on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 10:22:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  So very interesting! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LI Mike, NCrissieB, kktlaw

    I never valued group identity maybe because being mentally ill I never felt I really belonged anywhere until the past ten years.  I never held too much respect for authority maybe because I was raised under immoral authority by abusive alcoholic parents.  I now see all authority as flawed because it is held by humans who are inherently flawed.  Personal purity is not possible for the seriously mentally ill.  I wonder how many progressives feel the same way just with out the mental illness thing?  I mean the conservatives are all about exclusion and authority based on power not what is right.  How many progressives grew up feeling excluded by our culture and that their lives were ruled by authoritarian bullies?

    That passed by; this can, too. - Deor

    by stevie avebury on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 07:05:08 AM PDT

    •  Our life experience changes our values, yes. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      winterbanyan, kktlaw

      Haidt doesn't offer an explanation for why conservatives value all five principles roughly equally, while progressives value the first two as cardinal virtues and the rest as means rather than ends.  His research has been on whether those five principles are grounded in evolutionary biology (the answer seems to be "Yes") and whether our weighing of them changes with life experience (likely "Yes").

      He may have done more research on the issues you raise, but if so I haven't read it and I would feel unqualified to comment, or at least not in ways that I'd risk being attributed to Haidt.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

  •  Fascinating! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LI Mike, NCrissieB, kktlaw

    I can't watch video at work (well, I can watch, but there's no audio, so it wouldn't be very good) but

    Progressive - M = (2*(H + F)) + G + A + P
                   = 2H + 2F + G + A + P

    Conservative - M = H + F + G + A + P

    Makes me want to compare them.

    so .. subtract.

    P - C = H + F.  Simply heavier weights for helping and fairness.

    But I think these formulas have one big problem:
    Do they apply to the role of the government or of individuals?  

    I know a lot of conservatives who place high values on H and F, but only on a personal level - they would never cheat you, they help people in need, etc. but they don't think the government should do it.  This is certainly not true of all conservatives, but it's true of some.

    If you have to make these equations, I'd say that Conservatives have higher emphasis on authority and group membership, and they define "purity" so differently from the way we liberals do that the term is almost meaningless.

    •  Where subtraction actually does subtract. :) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      My first 'math jump' was to do the same subtraction you did, and it left me understanding less than I had before I did the 'math jump.'  This is a case where canceling out the repeating terms reduces what we can say about the rest.

      To answer your question, then, if you value group identity and loyalty more highly than the rest - and American conservatives often do - then obviously you are willing to care for (and help avoid harm to) the people in your group, and you favor fairness and reciprocity within your group ... but those don't apply (or at least not as much) outside your group.  Government programs may help people outside your own group - people you don't especially think deserve to be helped, because they're not in your group! - so you think H and F should be individual acts limited to individuals in the same group.

      Does that answer your question?

      •  No, it doesn't really answer it (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        There are conservatives who are very charitable - including to charities that help people in all groups - but who do not want the government to do any of it.

        Of course, there are some conservatives who are just totally greedy shmucks.  But there are some liberals like that too.  I've met liberals who are perfectly willing to pay higher taxes, but will treat people like dirt in their personal lives.

        Saying "conservatives do this" and "liberals do that" is way too simple, in general.

        •  Private charity = "I choose whom to help." (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AlanF, plf515, kktlaw

          Conversely, a government-funded social safety network is decided by an impersonal government whose choices may nor may not correspond to one's own.  If you value group identity and loyalty, you're more likely to want to help those in your group, even if you define "my group" as "people I deem worthy."  A government-funded and -operated social safety network doesn't allow you to make those choices, and may well help people you wouldn't include in "one of us."

          And in fact there's good research to support the argument that this is exactly what conservatives dislike about government-funded and -operated social safety networks: they help "the wrong people."

  •  The best short definition of Progressive (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fumie, NCrissieB, roadbear

    starts with a quotation from Israel Salanter:

    Most men worry about their own bellies, and other men's souls, when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other men's bellies

    (men = people .... it's a translation)

    This is already close to the C vs P divide, but if you make it "the government ought to...." then it's precise.

  •  Us and Them (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jotter, NCrissieB, roadbear, kktlaw

    Robert Coles, a brilliant child psychiatrist, studied the Moral Life of Children.  He looked at kids in truly horrific situations who acted morally, and kids in wonderful situations who acted immorally.  He found that one key difference was US and THEM.  The kids who were most moral did not separate the world into an US and a THEM.  One girl, a prostitute in a favela in Brazil, gave some of her very meager earnings to an orphanage.  When Coles asked her why she said "I could be there".

    Most conservatives, I think, do not really accept, on a deep level, the idea that
             but for the Grace of God
             if they hadn't been members of the lucky sperm club

    or however you want to phrase it, they could be there.

    •  very good insight (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      2laneIA, plf515, NCrissieB, kktlaw

      Although in truth I think everyone has a spectrum of connections to others.

      If the connection is strong enough they are treated as "us", if weak enough as "them".  

      Modifying the diarists formulation, I instead suspect everyone has the same two moral equations, one for us and one for them.

      The degree of connection felt by dems/progressives/left vs any particular group or person is likely to be much greater than that felt by repubs/conservatives/right.  In addition the range of groups and individuals experienced as "us" is far wider for left vs  right.

      The two equations then are as follows.

      US       M = H + F + A + P

      THEM  M = A+P   (might makes right, God is on our side)

      The key to moving things "left" is thus to promote interconnectedness, just as Obama is doing.

      •  That may be true ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ... although it's not Haidt's thesis, and I've been trying to present his thesis as fairly as I can.

        To put it another way: your forumlas aren't what I think Haidt argues from his research ... but I can't disagree with your formulas either.

        Good morning! ::hugggggggggs::

  •  Great diary. I've been thinking about this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fumie, NCrissieB, kktlaw

    too since I read a recent column by Kristoff, where I think he mentions Haidt's view.

    There have been other studes showing that conservatives tend to view things more in black-and-white terms, wheras liberals see more grey.  That also explains a lot.

    This basic psychological difference is also what keeps me from getting overly stressed when cons do or say things that are cleary contradictory.  I just chalk it up to their basic mental map, and all the logic and facts you can throw at them are not going to change their views.  Of course it frustrates me too, but I'm not going to waste mental energy trying to make make sense of their thinking.

    It's also why I sometimes ignore the gyrations on dkos about the 'crazy' republicans, in the sense that to me there's nothing new to that, "move along, nothting to see here, just Repubs saying wildly illogical and contradictory things again..."  The people who religiously listen to Fox or Rush are not ever going to be see the fallacy of their thinking.

    •  We can't convert 100% ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fumie, kktlaw

      ... but no political movement ever does absent the most egregious violations of human rights, and even then the "conversions" usually last only so long as the violations are imminent.  So no, we progressives can't hope to get "that last quartile."

      But we don't need that last quartile.  We do need the middle two quartiles.  And most of them are willing to be convinced, if we frame our arguments well.  I'm saying that framing must begin with advocating our moral values - our "equation" - rather than assuming they are already using those same values.

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggs::

  •  Curious if anyone agrees (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Sports : War
    Pornography : sex

    The lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience.

    by otto on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 08:04:42 AM PDT

    •  I don't, but I understand Haidt's point. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      otto, fumie, Boisepoet, winterbanyan, kktlaw

      Sports and other performance activities are social bonding exercises that provide opportunities to both share common experience (see the same things happen) and share experience commonly (share a perspective on their happening).  They're exercises that help us to transcend our biological separateness - we are each individual creatures, after all - and experience as a social organism.  To simplify all of that down to a metaphor for war is, I think, overstating the case.  War is not the only time we need to sublimate our individuality in the interest of group survival.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggs::

  •  Lots to think about (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NCrissieB, kktlaw

    For some reason Haidt's categories were easier for me to relate to than Lakoff. The language (for me) seemed more descriptive than judgemental. I could unfortunately relate to the greyhound analogy. Lately I've just disconnected from those "debates". After pondering this diary, I may try some more limited engagement. Thanks.

    •  Haidt and Lakoff have different perspectives. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      addisnana, kktlaw

      I suspect they'd agree more than disagree, but they are really looking at different questions.  Lakoff is unabashedly normative, and good for him.  Haidt is more empirical, and trying to estimate what cognitive tools enable us to cooperate and survive as a social species.  In the strictest reading, Haidt doesn't really address what a "good" society would be, except that its members cooperate and survive.  Lakoff would not think that sufficient.

      Good morning! ::hugggggggs::

  •  disagree on calculus of moral purity (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AlanF, NCrissieB, kktlaw

    For most conservatives it's more complicated.  From my perspective, the IOKIYAC is derived from the conservatives Christian belief in the "get out of jail free card."  This is rooted in the belief in original sin and God's willingness to grant us absolution if we confess our sins.  This is the reason that whenever a Public figure that is also Christian is caught doing something "sinful" they immediately and publicly ask for forgiveness, say they were weak and sinful, etc.  Forgiveness makes it OK.

    The problem and the reason so many progressives wail at the IOKIYAC is that conservatives seem to think it is OK to impress their moral code on others and yet only they get the "get out of jail free card".  Clinton pulled the public admission of guilt and sin and yet that wasn't good enough for for conservatives even as it was good enough for the likes of Vitter.

    As for progressive I believe two dynamics are in play:

    First, I agree that many progressives double down on H and F and so they try to avoid the behaviors that get them into trouble.  Second, most don't force their personal moral code on others unless others violate H and F. Conservatives are more willing to judge others on P, even as they tend to violate P, with the "get out of jail free card" held in reserve.

    The only thing we have to fear is fear itself - FDR. Obama Nation. -6.13 -6.15

    by ecostar on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 08:22:15 AM PDT

    •  I agree, though that still fits G. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ecostar, kktlaw

      You're offering a theological basis for the group loyalty, but it's still limited to those within that group (conservatives).  Dr. Tiller was apparently a very faithful member of his Christian church, and Bill Clinton claimed to be a Christian as well.  But they weren't conservatives, so they weren't entitled to the theological free pass.  God had no mercy for them, unless and until they became conservatives....

      Good morning! ::huggggggggs::

  •  Moral relativism is OK if you're a conservative. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NCrissieB, kktlaw

    If we're so smart, how come it took us 5,000 years to put wheels on our luggage?

    by yulooloo on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 08:24:30 AM PDT

    •  That's basically what you get ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yulooloo, kktlaw

      ... when group identity and loyalty are cardinal moral virtues, yes.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggs::

      •  Good morning! And thanks for the reco. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NCrissieB, kktlaw

        I confess I'm quite enamored of the circular quality of that line. It struck me as almost a Zen koan of unself-aware rationalization. But I thought pointing that out might kill the joke.

        Come to think of it, it would make a pretty good bumper sticker or T shirt.

        If we're so smart, how come it took us 5,000 years to put wheels on our luggage?

        by yulooloo on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 09:40:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The eightfold path also applies to life and how (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gatorcog, indyada, NCrissieB

    you live it...

    The man who knows and knows he knows not is a wise man

    by OpherGopher on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 08:40:28 AM PDT

    •  Would you like to explain more? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I'm not very familiar with that, and I'm sure at least some other readers are even less so.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

      •  It's a bhuddist thing (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NCrissieB, kktlaw

        I'm not very articulate in explaining it, but it outlines the basic afflictions everyone has within (anger, jealousy, greed, etc.) and how one recognizes it and puts it in its place so as not to hinder the path to happiness.
        Did I come close Opher?

        Well, I guess I don't know what you mean by "equal justice under the law." - Bushy McSpokesperson

        by gatorcog on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 09:12:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  like this? (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gatorcog, DBunn, NCrissieB, kktlaw

          is this right?

          Buddhism emphasizes the four noble truths and the eightfold path.

          The four noble truths are' (1) All life is subject to suffering; (2) desire to live is the cause of repeated existences; (3) the annihilation of desire gives release from suffering; and (4) the way of escape is through the eightfold path. The eightfold path is right belief, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration to escape from desire.

          I know nothing but I still can look for it.

  •  Excellent diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DBunn, NCrissieB, kktlaw

    I agree with variables, but question the weights. The square root of H and F seem more accurate weights for conservatives. Most of the major issues that we face as a country concern these two variables. Conservatives oppose every initiative to help Americans in need and completely disregard the lives of people in other countries. Conservatives see fairness as a playing field tilted in favor of their family and friends. When it comes to other 3 variables, conservatives are JAP (jingoistic authoritarian pricks).

    An end to the Bush nightmare is only the first step in rebuilding America.

    by DWG on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 09:00:37 AM PDT

    •  Thank you, and the math was for example only. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DBunn, DWG, kktlaw

      The only reason I offered the equations was to illustrate the point reaching different answers if we plug numbers into different moral equations, even if we agree on the facts (the numbers) and the logic (how to do the arithmetic).  The equations I gave were a rough guesstimate based on looking at Haidt's charts, and I'd be stunned if those equations were to precisely describe what he's found in his research.

      Thank you for your comment! ::huggggggggs::

    •  On the matter of weights (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NCrissieB, kktlaw

      Consider a hypothetical case: You are trapped in a dire circumstance, such that you can save only yourself and two others. Your spouse and child are trapped in the same circumstance, along with Barack Obama, a doctor who has found the cure for cancer, and 9,998 others. Who do you save?

      I'm saving my spouse and child. How about you?

      I'd be surprised if anyone would put their spouse and child into a blind lottery that chooses two people out of 10,000 (fairness). And equally surprised if anyone chose Obama or the doctor (harm, care), unless one of them is their spouse or child.

      The point is, the way we weight the 5 values depends at least in some part on our perception of externalities, such as how many people can escape the hypothetical dire circumstance, or how dire the circumstance actually is.

      So, the difference between conservatives and progressives may be, at least in part, attributable to different perceptions of what the relevant externalities really are.

  •  "modern" conservatism... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AlanF, NCrissieB actually depressingly consistent.  "Conservative" today essentially means anything that pisses off liberals.  That's covered to some degree by "group identity."  But it's not their own group that defines them, so much as the group they perceive as the enemy.

    "To hell with the rich. They made me sick." - Philip Marlowe

    by Roddy McCorley on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 09:09:35 AM PDT

    •  In-group identity often includes an out-group. (0+ / 0-)

      Unless the in-group is uniquely coherent along some descriptive axis, part of its description usually includes distinction from out-groups.  The larger the group, and thus the less likely it will be uniquely coherent along any descriptive axis, the more likely out-group distinction will be part of its identity, and the larger a role out-group distinction will play.

      There is other sociological research to support that, but I'd have to dig wayyyyy back for it, so I can't give you a citation immediately.

      Thanks for your comment! ::huggggggggggs::

  •  Thanks Chrissie (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    winterbanyan, NCrissieB

    I just sent the Haidt video to members of my immigration group.

  •  One thing that it's interesting to do (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    with factors like those is to treat each one as a dimension. Instead of the two equations you have, you would need to use the same weights on each one and assign values such that the distribution for conservatives would be toward the lower end of H and F (this is probably what the underlying research probably has found). Anyway, you then use the standard multidimensional Euclidean distances (square root of the sum of weighted squared differences over the some of weights) to find the "moral distance" between each pair of individuals or groups. There are lots of interesting things you can do with these pairwise distances if you have data on number of different individuals or groups, such as multidimensional scaling, cluster analysis, pathfinder analysis, and so on.

    Greg Shenaut

    •  Yes, my math was admittedly crude. (0+ / 0-)

      The idea of using the equations at all struck me when I realized that if we're using different moral equations, it should come as no surprise that we get different moral decisions based on the same facts (numbers) and logic (arithmetic).  In short, I was trying to show that conservative moral reasoning is entirely rational, given their moral equation.  It seems like a factual (numbers) or logic (arithmetic) error to progressives because we're using a different moral equation, and we don't recognize the difference in the equations.

      Thank you for your comment! ::huggggggggs::

  •  Further Refining of Progressive Equation: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Progressive M = (2*(H + F)) + (G + A + P)*n

    where n → 0 as t (time) → ∞

  •  Interesting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    During the campaign the Democrats were over simplified into the "everybody else party"  While the Republicans were projected as having a clearer sense of their beliefs because they were limited.  An example: God Guns Gays.

    I think this study may help democrats come up with a better definition than "everybody else".  Perhaps a moniker that mirrors God, Guns and Gays, could be Empathy, Equality, Liberty for all.

    I am not a political expert, but I know we need to get off the Liberal, Abortion, Anti-Religion bandwagon.  Because none of these things are bad by themselves.  But when demonized to point that conservatives were able to make of those three worlds is astounding.

    "Intolerance betrays want in one's faith." Ghandi

    by winter outhouse on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 09:38:14 AM PDT

    •  It suggest there really is a "there" there ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      winter outhouse

      ... in both progressive and conservative philosophy.  I found it striking that the charts for progressive and conservative values were very similar across so many cultures: U.S., Canada, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.  I don't know if Haidt has any data for South America or Africa, but I would be surprised if the data there were hugely dissimilar.

      I also found some interesting (to me) differences in the charts, though they flashed by so quickly in the talk that I've not been able to parse them as closely as I'd like before commenting.  The slopes of the lines are similar, but the start and end points are different in ways I find intriguing.

      Thanks for the comment! ::hugggggggggggs::

  •  This would all be more believable if (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    it wasn't always conservatives always complaining about 'moral relativism' and 'situational ethics.'

    No more nonsense, please.

    by ohiolibrarian on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 09:49:41 AM PDT

    •  Ah, but fairness and avoiding harm to others (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AlanF, DBunn, NCrissieB

      involve being aware of the circumstances of other people and taking them into account, while group loyalty, authoritarianism, and personal purity do not require you to think past yourself or your own group.  These are seen by conservatives as "absolute" morality, while a more progressive morality that takes into account effects on other people is seen as relativistic.

      Civil marriage is a civil right.

      by UU VIEW on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 10:32:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Kelly diads :) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The work of George Kelly might be helpful in that regard.  He proposed what came to be known as Kelly Diads - complementary descriptors like honesty/dishonesty, etc. - that we tend to apply in criticizing ethical decisions and actions.  Kelly's work suggested that most of us use a fairly small set of diads, though each of us may use a slightly different set.  And most interesting of all, the negative descriptors we apply to others tend to be self-descriptive; they express our fears of our own failings.

      In other words, we're most critical of mistakes in others that we know we're prone to ourselves, and we tend to project our own failures and fears onto those we criticize.

      Does that help answer your concern?

      Thank you for the comment! ::hugggggggggggs::

  •  Great diary, which explain something that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DBunn, NCrissieB

    troubles me greatly.  The other day my partner played something from The Onion.  I didn't know it was a comedy piece and wound up plugging my ears and humming quietly so I couldn't hear it, I was so offended.

    When it was revealed to me that it was a comedy skit... I was horrified.  It struck me that this is the level to which we have sunk in our public discourse, that I could think a comedy skit was serious, outrageous bashing from a Repug.

    Then I found myself asking sadly, "What has happened to the country I grew up to love, the ideals I cherished, that I could hear a comedy skit and thing those outrageous claims were being made for real?"

    With this diary I understand:  The Rebug tribe is under attack and they are responding with all-out war.  Still sad, and I don't think it's doing a damn thing to help them.  But this explains a lot.

    Good morning, and huggs to all!

    The austerity you see around you covers the richness of life like a veil -- Anonymous

    by winterbanyan on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 09:52:34 AM PDT

    •  Do you remember which skit it was? n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Listen to progressive talk radio 6 a.m. - 7 p.m. every weekday at

      by AlanF on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 12:00:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Tribal "war" is an important insight. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DBunn, winterbanyan

      When our primary identity group is threatened, and conservatism certainly is right now, most of us tend to get extremely group-protective.  Group loyalty then becomes an even higher imperative, skewing our moral reasoning in truly horrific ways (like war).  That may be, at least at an intuitive level, why President Obama has tried to adopt a bipartisan tone rather than "step on their throats" as some here have suggested.  It hasn't worked all that well, but there may still be a violence-damping utility in making a sincere effort to be inclusive.

      Thank you for the comment! ::hugggggggggs::

  •  Evolution takes place at multiple levels (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DBunn, NCrissieB

    as does selection. There's a temptation to see evolution telologically: how did it get us (chordates, mammals, primates, humans) to this better place? "Better" takes on shades of morality as well as pragmatism.

    But it's worth nothing that evolution acts on individuals (or genes, or alleles), not just species, and "group loyalty" is all too easily understandable: it's to individual humans' benefit to know subconsciously how to ally themselves with the strongest group and use their powers of rationalization to defend whatever that group does. If they don't, they run the very strong risk of being killed. This is on my mind a lot as I've been reading Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong and have seen how people who stood up for principles were generally murdered or driven out, while those who lauded "our rights", where "our" was the group in power, survived.

    Meanwhile, the human species is now running into problems because of the closed-mindedness that has helped its individuals make as many descendants as possible. Greediness generally is a "successful" strategy, but adopted universally, it can ensure that the resources will be exhausted.

    I am prepared to tell people why "group loyalty" is a self-delusive and pernicious principle to put high on one's scale of values. But there are millions of years of human evolution that will keep them from hearing me.

    Listen to progressive talk radio 6 a.m. - 7 p.m. every weekday at

    by AlanF on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 09:57:19 AM PDT

    •  That's a key insight! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AlanF, DBunn

      We're a social species, and Haidt makes clear that he isn't offering moral principles that lead us toward "truth."  These are better seen as social facilities, as they make us better able to cooperate and survive in large groups.  Whether we cooperate and survive toward a "better society" is an different question.  While sustainability has been a survival factor in some groups in some places and times, it's becoming an important factor for our entire species, and it's not one we've specifically evolved toward.

      We have some work to do, clearly....

      Thank you for your comment! ::hugggggggggggs::

    •  Aka, Tragedy of the Commons (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AlanF, NCrissieB, kktlaw

      Greediness generally is a "successful" strategy, but adopted universally, it can ensure that the resources will be exhausted.

      The paradox is, the rational choice for each individual can be entirely irrational for all individuals together.

      Evolution can only select for individual genetic survival. To the extent that human social groups survive, it is because association with those particular groups is advantageous to individual survival. So, for those of us interested in some form of genetic survival (children, nieces/nephews, people sort of like us, any people at all), a relevant question would be, with which group, if any, should we associate ourselves?

      Those of us interested in some form of genetic survival would do well to associate ourselves with a group that can deal with the paradox above: how to bend individual self-interest so it does not conflict with the interests of all (including each individual). The challenges of this century-- global warming, over-population, peak oil, etc-- are global in nature, which suggests to me that the group we need to associate with is also global. In other words, we are in the group of all humans, and only all humans together can address the real challenges we now face.

      I wish us luck with that :)

  •  Pfft!!! Weights are less important than objective (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean, NCrissieB, kktlaw

    When you enter a discussion with a conservative the problem is not "different equations". The problem is different goals.

    In my personal experience conservatives rarely enter a discussion in good faith - i.e. to debate the issue on it's merits - No, they enter on it to win or at least "not lose" even if the only alternative not to lose is to yell "la-la-la can't hear you".

    Again, fairness is less important to them then their ego and allegiance to their group - they are in a discussion with you to validate their ego and their group. So no matter what you say, or what set of criteria you agreed to judge the issue being debated, their goal is to "not lose" and they won't ever concede. They enter a discussion to prove you wrong. If they can't then they try to change the subject, have a tantrum, call out irrelevant side points.. Anything but admit they were had.

    Big waste of time to discuss anything with a con. They just won't listen and insult your intelligence with their BS attempts to claim victory at any cost.

    Remember when you had to be some crazy conspiracy theorist to even possibly remotely suggest that Cheney was running the show? Good times.

    by lostmypassword on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 10:01:43 AM PDT

    •  We seem to be agreeing? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lostmypassword, kktlaw

      My point was that if we don't first clarify the moral equation we're applying in a given situation, and reach at least arguendo agreement on the moral equation, we're never going to agree on the conclusion ... for the very reasons you've stated.

      Thank you for the comment! ::huggggggggggs::

      •  Ya, I'm just more cynical (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NCrissieB, kktlaw

        In my experience the cons never enter an argument open to agreeing with the other side. Their goal is to have you agree with them or to make you look confused / wrong / mean if you don't. A bunch of crybabies!

        Remember when you had to be some crazy conspiracy theorist to even possibly remotely suggest that Cheney was running the show? Good times.

        by lostmypassword on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 02:13:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's true at the extreme right. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lostmypassword, kktlaw

          And I've said in other comments that we can't hope to win over that last quartile.  But we can try to win over the middle quartiles, many of whom are open to different opinions.  In order to do that, however, we have to be explicit about the moral equation we're applying in these discussions.  We can't take it as a given that others use the same moral equation we do.

  •  What a coincidence! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Silverbird, NCrissieB

    I find it difficult to have moral discussions with conservatives.  It's rather like a greyhound chasing a mechanical rabbit around a track.

    I encounter the very same phenomenon right here discussing the morality of torture and what should be done about it!

    What are the odds?

    Apparently Health care for the people here has a greater weighting than prosecuting torturers!

    Oh and look! Now we are losing on Health Care too!

    I think perhaps, you left the inclination to bow to Authority out of the equation. But I guess that comes under group identity and loyalty. I wonder how that applies at Dkos? hmmmmm

    But thanks, great essay.

    •  If you consider the value weightings ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marsanges, kktlaw

      ... it might help explain that seeming disparity of outcomes.  Health care fits clearly into avoiding harm, caring for others, and social fairness, going forward.  Prosecuting torture is about obedience to authority (the law), mitigating harm (we can't avoid harms already done), and fairness (the law should apply to everyone).  Progressives know we need to enforce laws to avoid harm and care for others, but many may also see this as a case of a harm already done that we can't undo.  We can mitigate it, but we can also weigh in that analysis elements like the derailing of other harm-avoiding, care-giving initiatives if government gets caught up in Bush-era prosecutions.  Thus they might weigh that unmitigated past harm as less than the harms we could avert going forward by enacting health care reform.

      What I'm suggesting is that this is an issue where reasonable, sincere people may reasonably disagree, because the harm measurements are inexact enough to permit different conclusions, even if we're using the the same moral equation.

      Thanks for your comment! ::huggggggggggs::

      •  you could say this (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        buhdydharma, NCrissieB

        about just every serious political debate.

        because the harm measurements are inexact enough to permit different conclusions

        your reply was an elaborate form of the "keep the powder dry" argument. Behind this lies a moral valuation (according to your equations, as an image of thought) and this moral valuation comes out differently even among progressives. You have put up the diary outlining a contrast between conservatives (like me) and progressives, but buhdy´s complaint boils down to stating that the same can be said about progressives among themselves. The reality of his (her?) torture debate example is that the "moral judgement" or "summand weighting" of the side that you´d call "your side" simply is not the same between all the people, as well.

        So, ok, well I only ever was part of a very small minority in my own moral judgements and I know it no better than to live with that fact.

        But I understand buhdý´s exasperation that the weighting of morals that´s his identity (No. 3) is in reality shared by so few. It is not just a matter of counting the "greatest good of the greatest number" different but also a real difference in evaluating what goodness is.

        Beste groeten!

        •  That's why the serious policy questions ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... are so contentious.  The issues where we can all essentially agree on the facts and consequences, and where we apply similar moral equations, we can and do resolve easily.  The "serious policy questions" are those where we can't entirely agree on the facts or consequences - maybe we can't know or foresee them with sufficient precision - or the differences in our moral equations lead us to different judgments.

          The point is that there's a reason the "serious policy questions" are so contentious.  It's not always true that "the other side" are simply being dismissive, irresponsible, or stubborn.  On the "serious policy questions," there's usually enough inexactitude that reasonable people can reasonably disagree.

  •  NCrissieB, you're a real treasure. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maryabein, NCrissieB, marsanges, kktlaw

    They tortured people to get false confessions to dupe us into invading Iraq.

    by chicago jeff on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 11:07:33 AM PDT

  •  Another option (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AlanF, NCrissieB, kktlaw

    You rightly point out that one way to convince a person is to get them to accept your moral framework first, and then evaluate the given situation under that light.

    That, however, is a very difficult thing to achieve, and if we are to believe the TED talk in question, may not be entirely possible if some of these 'moral equations' are biologically derived.

    There is a second option.  We can, if we choose, agree to their framework and show them how their moral reasoning can be used to justify our position.

    This doesn't mean abandoning our moral principles, but it should be an option in our toolbox of persuasion.

    For example, if we know our opponent values group loyalty so much, then we should emphasize our belonging to his group, to OUR group, or that we are in this situation together, and give examples of how we can both, collectively, honor this joint group identity by subscribing to the tenets that we are espousing.

    Obama did this a lot during the campaign.  He often speaks from a decidedly 'conservative' viewpoint, but proposes liberal solutions to the issue.

    The core message is, I understand your concerns, I share your values, we are in the same group; Now let's talk about fixing the problem.

    Conservatives constantly want to bait us into the us-vs-them argument, because they know their base reacts instinctively to it.  They benefit from the idea of red-v-blue much more than we do.  Demographics are not on their side now, but it's the best weapon they have.  Obama, pursuing the 'purple america' strategy disarmed this weapon.

    •  This is just what I was thinking (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NCrissieB, kktlaw

      but you said it better and covered more ground.

      Listen to progressive talk radio 6 a.m. - 7 p.m. every weekday at

      by AlanF on Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 11:58:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree with that approach also. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It's easiest to prevail in a moral discussion if you can show that the other person's moral equation leads to the conclusion you're advocating.  In order to do that, however, you have to first be aware they use a different moral equation than your own.  And when you can do that, you don't need to persuade them toward your moral values.

      There are times, however, when we do need to persuade others of our moral values - our moral equation - and not simply hope we can engineer the facts toward the conclusion we want in their equation.  These tend to be the most difficult moral questions, because they break down very clearly along values rather than the facts or logic.  We progressives ought not to be afraid of advocating our moral values, our moral equation.

      Thank you for the comment! ::huggggggggs::

Meteor Blades, bink, mwjeepster, zzyzx, buffalo soldier, boydog, Chi, hannah, Phoenix Woman, tundraman, jotter, GOTV, Gooch, Geenius at Wrok, dcdanny, Gooserock, Tuffy, Dave the Wave, BigOkie, newjeffct, Emerson, dengre, Yoshimi, Stein, celdd, polecat, TarheelDem, Bryce in Seattle, bumblebums, mataliandy, Nonie3234, Heart of the Rockies, JLFinch, Gustogirl, opinionated, sponson, Wee Mama, chockfull, metal prophet, Steve159, CalvinV, mrblifil, roses, Enterik, fumie, bustacap, djdissent, OldYellerDog, SensibleShoes, wader, Quege, jdmorg, asterlil, nancelot, Dallasdoc, 2laneIA, Viola Lee, On The Bus, papercut, lcrp, alizard, Pohjola, econlibVA, AllisonInSeattle, djtyg, Lefty Mama, tomjones, poemworld, bibble, Gowrie Gal, chumley, Leslie H, saodl, marina, radarlady, beagledad, j sundman, tle, el dorado gal, JanetT in MD, subtropolis, TenThousandThings, Chinton, liberalis, OpherGopher, PBen, Alice Venturi, laird, elkhunter, eightlivesleft, RequestedUsername, terrypinder, stitchmd, Brooke In Seattle, david78209, EJP in Maine, owlbear1, NLinStPaul, Kayakbiker, lotlizard, ivorybill, RElland, Cyber Kat, woobie, AnotherMassachusettsLiberal, sodalis, begone, alrdouglas, kovie, Shirl In Idaho, gwilson, Orinoco, Clytemnestra, BlueInARedState, smokeymonkey, buhdydharma, Im with Rosey, Naniboujou, NBBooks, birdbrain64, nonnie9999, gatorcog, stunspot, Crashing Vor, real world chick, Caoimhin Laochdha, plf515, bleeding heart, AndyS In Colorado, myrealname, Dinclusin, Pilgrim X, Turbonerd, ChapiNation386, profh, va dare, BB10, Texdude50, blueness, revgerry, Brian D, Granny Doc, AllanTBG, mapman, NonnyO, DBunn, seabos84, jlb1972, ibonewits, dotsright, Cronesense, Loudoun County Dem, UU VIEW, suburi, Positronicus, Jimdotz, BehereBenow, DWG, joyful, bnasley, gatorbot, malharden, yulooloo, jedennis, sabishi, ubertar, steamkettle, chicago jeff, vbdietz, millwood, kailuacaton, uciguy30, JML9999, mall teacher, gizmo59, sand805, rogerdaddy, FedUpDan, ShadowSD, RickMassimo, Boisepoet, Phil N DeBlanc, rontun, OleHippieChick, dadadata, filby, Lujane, pamelabrown, bluesheep, TokenLiberal, mofembot, Gemina13, mommaK, winterbanyan, Abra Crabcakeya, Cobbler, BlueStateRedhead, xysea, auctor ignotus, BYw, red 83, dont think, In her own Voice, revelwoodie, cactusflinthead, Sarah Ann, legendmn, Fiddlegirl, who dat, Bule Betawi, multilee, Rhysling, cybrestrike, Glacial Erratic, Neon Vincent, George Hier, aufklaerer, litoralis, DynamicUno, ewmorr, imisa, maryabein, Partisan Progressive, h bridges, velvet blasphemy, Patch Adam, MKSinSA, TheOpinionGuy, MooseHB, obscuresportsquarterly, Denise Oliver Velez, silentbobus, guyeda, XNeeOhCon, elropsych, bohemian darling, awcomeon, marabout40, roadbear, freewilly, Spruced Alien, your neighbor, gulfgal98, elginblt, SoCalHobbit, Anne933, juturna, AJ in Camden, sharonsz, pateTX, addisnana, Actbriniel, theKgirls, kktlaw, gobears2000, Colorado is the Shiznit, RepTracker, Front Toward Enemy, annominous, I love OCD, Powell, Airmid, winter outhouse, sowsearsoup, Olon, kirbybruno, MaryinHammondsport, wasrepublican, m00finsan, FarWestGirl, kevin k, marleycat, elusive muse, merrily1000, dakinishir, Edgewater, stevie avebury, James Protzman, Buddhist Brother, Book of Hearts, blackjackal

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site