interesting article on morality

Posted in Politics, Random thoughts at 11:36 pm by ducky

I recommend this interesting New York Times article on morality by Steven Pinker.

The first highlight is that there are about five main components to morality: don’t harm others, be fair, support your in-group, respect authority, and be clean/pure.

The second highlight, for me, is that liberals and conservatives place different weights on the values:

The ranking and placement of moral spheres also divides the cultures of liberals and conservatives in the United States. Many bones of contention, like homosexuality, atheism and one-parent families from the right, or racial imbalances, sweatshops and executive pay from the left, reflect different weightings of the spheres. In a large Web survey, Haidt found that liberals put a lopsided moral weight on harm and fairness while playing down group loyalty, authority and purity. Conservatives instead place a moderately high weight on all five. It’s not surprising that each side thinks it is driven by lofty ethical values and that the other side is base and unprincipled.

This passage reminds me of both George Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant, which discusses different value weightings by liberals and conservatives, and The Seven Cultures of Capitalism, which posits that people have generally the same values but different value priorities. Those are also good books and worth a read.


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