Saturday, July 11, 2015

Some thoughs on Jonathan Haidt's Moral Foundations Theory

About a year ago, I read Johnathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind, which details the split between liberal and conservative morality. As someone who's become increasingly frustrated with not necessarily partisanship, but tribalism in American politics and culture, I found it a pretty interesting read. I know there have been some criticisms of his theory, that it's a bit incomplete when trying to describe the vagueries of American political thought, but I don't think anyone would argue that conservatives and liberals view morality differently. Lately I've been obsessed with my own place on the spectrum. I've called myself a liberal for as long as I can remember, albeit one with some pretty strong libertarian leanings which I never though incompatible with traditional liberalism. (It's not. It is incompatible with the current brand of progressivism that passes as liberalism, but I've long considered the best politics to be a marriage of the two.) Anyway, I took the online test to see where I stand.

Like most liberals, I score highest on the care and fairness foundations, and significantly lower on the other three: loyalty, authority, and purity. I did score a bit lower than a typical liberal would on care and fairness, but not by much, but I think I'm better defined by what I'm not. On the latter three, I didn't even register a point! On a scale of one to five my purity foundation score was a whopping 0.3. (There really isn't anything I treat as sacred.) Granted people aren't data, and tests that rely on personal reporting alone are biased to a fault, but still, it's easy to see the disconnect between me and who I consider to me my tribe.

On a related note, I also learned that takes a lot to disgust me. The only facet of disgust I scored reasonably high on was the "core," which I chalk up to being something of a germaphobe. (In other words, nun sneezing on a bus bothers me more than two girls and a cup.)