I think it’s fair to say that Conservatives regard Progressives and Liberals as soft-headed fools, partly because we aren’t married to cultural traditions, but also because we don’t see the world as they do. They see the world as a conflict between “worthies” and “unworthies,” divided by race, nationality, religion and/or economic status. They see nothing wrong in being greedy and selfish. In their worldview, this is reality, and we are stupid to dispute it. But I believe their worldview is distorted. It is as if they can see reality only in black and white, without color or even shades of grey.
It will likely have no impression upon Conservatives, but I would like to draw this community’s attention to several scientific studies which support the Progressive/Liberal worldview.
It’s possible that someone has already brought to the community’s attention the article which reported that “higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior.” Authors Paul K. Piffa, Daniel M. Stancatoa, Stéphane Côtéb, Rodolfo Mendoza-Dentona, and Dacher Keltnera, stated that “Seven studies using experimental and naturalistic methods reveal that upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals... upper-class individuals’ unethical tendencies are accounted for, in part, by their more favorable attitudes toward greed.” Indeed, there is nothing in the ethics of Ayn Rand which recommends consideration of others. Ego is absolute.
But, in the long term, that is not a successful strategy for social groups. Authors Alexander J. Stewart and Joshua B. Plotkin note that cooperative behavior seems at odds with the Darwinian principle of survival of the fittest, but is abundant in nature. They report that “Scientists have used the Prisoner Dilemma game, in which players must choose to cooperate or defect, to study the emergence and stability of cooperation...Extortion strategies perform very well in head-to-head competitions, but they fare poorly in large, evolving populations.” The authors concluded from mathematical tests that there was “a closely related set of generous strategies, which cooperate with others and forgive defection, that replace extortionists and dominate in large populations.” [my italics] They concluded that their “results help to explain the evolution of cooperation.” It arises from the fact that we are not just competing individuals; we are members of social groups, which aim to carry on over time.
Authors Andrew W. Deltona, Max M. Krasnowa, Leda Cosmidesa and John Toobya have analyzed the results of “one-shot encounters,” i.e., tests where people don’t know each other and meet only once, and found that “...generosity evolves because, at the ultimate level, it is a high-return cooperative strategy.” They conclude that “Human generosity, far from being a thin veneer of cultural conditioning atop a Machiavellian core, may turn out to be a bedrock feature of human nature.”
Other social researchers have found that “indirect reciprocity,” the kind mediated by “gossip,” is also effective. Authors Erez Yoeli, Moshe Hoffman, David G. Rand, and Martin A. Nowak worked with a utility company and discovered that “reputational concerns...can be harnessed to increase cooperation in a relevant, real-world public goods game.”
Conservatives will likely dismiss “reputational concerns,” based on their worldview, but they are a minority of the population.