[[ Prime ]] The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion Author Jonathan Haidt – Andy-palmer.co.uk

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion Why can t our political leaders work together as threats loom and problems mount Why do people so readily assume the worst about the motives of their fellow citizens In The Righteous Mind, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt explores the origins of our divisions and points the way forward to mutual understanding His starting point is moral intuition the nearly instantaneous perceptions we all have about other people and the things they do These intuitions feel like self evident truths, making us righteously certain that those who see things differently are wrong Haidt shows us how these intuitions differ across cultures, including the cultures of the political left and right He blends his own research findings with those of anthropologists, historians, and other psychologists to draw a map of the moral domain He then examines the origins of morality, overturning the view that evolution made us fundamentally selfish creatures But rather than arguing that we are innately altruistic, he makes a subtle claim that we are fundamentally groupish It is our groupishness, he explains, that leads to our greatest joys, our religious divisions, and our political affiliations In a stunning final chapter on ideology and civility, Haidt shows what each side is right about, and why we need the insights of liberals, conservatives, and libertarians to flourish as a nation


10 thoughts on “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

  1. says:

    Haidt is much better psychologist than political philosopher, and this book is both monumental and dangerously flawed.On the good side Haidt draws broadly from research in psychology, anthropology, and biology to develop a six factor basis for morality Care Harm, Liberty Oppression, Fairness Cheating, Loyalty Betrayal, Authority Subversion, Sanctity Degradation , and show that moral judgement is an innate intuitive ability accompanied by post hoc justifications Morality serves to bind non rel Haidt is much better psychologist than political philosopher, and this book is both monumental and dangerously flawed.On the good side Haidt draws broadly from research in psychology, anthropology, and biology to develop a six factor basis for morality Care Harm, Liberty Oppression, Fairness Cheating, Loyalty Betrayal, Authority Subversion, Sanctity Degradation , and show that moral judgement is an innate intuitive ability accompanied by post hoc justifications Morality serves to bind non related groups, i.e society, together, and moral skills have been favored by various evolutionary mechanisms over human history This theory is, frankly, really good and really well developed.Haidt then goes on to show that Liberalism draws from only the first three moral factors while Conservatism draws from all six This explains both the differences between liberals and conservatives, and why conservatives beat the stuffing out of liberals at the polls This is also incontrovertible.But Haidt is unwilling to follow his theory to its ultimate question Can a democratic political system that privileged the rights of the minority procedurally sustain decision making based on all six moral factors Care Harm, Liberty Oppression, and Fairness Cheating are universal factors everybody uses them, and we mostly agree on when they are upheld or violated Loyalty Betrayal, Authority Subversion, and Sanctity Degradation are intrinsically provincial factors they re different for every culture, and every individual A moral order for a pluralistic society which takes the latter three factors seriously must either force people to uphold a morality they do not believe in, or segregate people based on their different interpretations of morality Perhaps I m particularly sensitive to such concerns because I m a liberal Jew, but forcing false beliefs on and or ghettoizing people seems profoundly wrong Conversely, giving a Moral Minority the ability to gum up the works whenever they feel their rights are under attack is killing good governance Where conservatism fails is that we are no longer living in separate communities It s one global economy, one atmosphere, one water cycle, one oil supply, etc Haidt faults liberalism for damaging American moral capital in the 60s and 70s, but he doesn t explain how conservatism can become big enough rule the globe


  2. says:

    If you are a Republican this book will make you feel very good about yourself According to Haidt you have abalanced morality, a realistic view of human nature beware anyone who says they understand human nature , and some other good stuff I forgot about He points the finger at liberals but seems unaware about the political dangers of conservatism He discusses liberals with disdain With conservatives there is a kind of awe and he rarely discusses their hypocrisies Of course he conve If you are a Republican this book will make you feel very good about yourself According to Haidt you have abalanced morality, a realistic view of human nature beware anyone who says they understand human nature , and some other good stuff I forgot about He points the finger at liberals but seems unaware about the political dangers of conservatism He discusses liberals with disdain With conservatives there is a kind of awe and he rarely discusses their hypocrisies Of course he conveniently says we are all hypocrites and should not worry with it There lies the reason why he is so kind to the contemporary right, which is a clan of hypocrites without equal Haidt believes we do not reason so much as we rationalize, which really makes one wonder how we managed to even invent the wheel or start using fire It also explains why he never includes truth in his limited moral universe The Persians made it the center of their morality I guess it would just complicate things, so like any hack, he ignores it, much the same way evolutionary psychologists often dodge the issue of suicide It also makes it easier to accept contemporary conservatism, which has grown alongside tepid moral relativism The above thoughts make him seem like a man at home in the world before the English Civil War administered the first blows for egalitarianism In other words, this is perfect neo liberal dreck for our vapid post modern world A fashionable book that in time will be mocked and at best studied as a curiosity, the main curiosity being why this man is taken so seriously I suppose he just went to the right schools, just like the guys who sent us to Iraq, deregulated the banks, etc.Most of all, Haidt simply does not understand either side of the political fight If Republicans love authority, why do they disdain the government On the flip side the same holds true for government loving liberals That is because the question is not how much government we shall have The question is over who shall rule Conservatives throughout history are defined by their acceptance of gross inequality, which is why any authority that approaches fairness is opposed by them Haidt grasps this somewhat when discussing fairness and equality but not with the same success as Corey Robin.UPDATE Years later and still ticking as my most popular review It is not my best written or most nuanced As such it requires an update, since it was very much a product of 2013 Has my opinion changed I can make my case against the book with less vitriol, and a few lines do not really work so well For instance, my point about rationality is a stretch I saw Haidt as part of a gradual process, aided on the left and right, to debase the value of rationality I could go on, but I think our declining faith in reason as an ideal, if not a full blown reality, is in part why you get FOX News and campus protests My point though could have been better made, but I won t change the review The old dog has been around for too long now More to the point, the book still suffers from some flaws in research It has a bias andto the point has a limited understanding of morality Haidt dodges questions of truth and hypocrisy because they would undermine his argument I have no time any for arguments, left or right, that ignore their internal contradictions or other view points that would question their basic premises Haidt s work is not without merit, but it is already showing its age.Yet, this review of Haidt shows its age It was written when I was firmly on the left I am not any longer, having seen the rise of anarchist views and resurgent critical theory In 2013 I had seen years of right wing hypocrisy, arrogance, and idiocy Bush years, Tea Party The left has responded in kind with its own blend As such, the nation cannot hold together since both sides utterly hate and distrust each other Our government system cannot handle such discord It could not in 1861 and it will not today In 2013 I may have appeared to be on the left, but since then much has changed, and I find myself being cast out by those in my camp for disagreeing with tactics and goals I am a man without a party or a tribe and soon the wolf and the lion will be at each other s throats Gone are the days online or in person when debate could be heated, but without hate Just read the comments Conservatives came to attack this review, and they almost always do so by using some ad hominem attacks I was called a liar, told I was unreasonable with a bloated sense of compassion One person wrote I m only enraging the situation by disagreeing with your obnoxious liberal elephant and will only make itcombative My answer Not at all Unlike what we see today on campus, I am all about debate This is where we are today We no longer trade ideas online Instead we look to score points, certain of how the other will react.The war starts among the people before it ever gets formalized Bleeding Kansas and the Boston Massacre were preludes We are seeing our own preludes in 2017


  3. says:

    I was hopeful this book might provide me with some sociological tools and rhetorical tricks to clear away the views of those who disagree with my positions on politics and religion Of course this book does not deliver on this unrealistic hope What the book does provide instead is an explanation why not everybody agrees with my definition of morality This knowledge does not make disagreements go away, so the best I can hope for after reading this book is to comprehend the intuitive motivations I was hopeful this book might provide me with some sociological tools and rhetorical tricks to clear away the views of those who disagree with my positions on politics and religion Of course this book does not deliver on this unrealistic hope What the book does provide instead is an explanation why not everybody agrees with my definition of morality This knowledge does not make disagreements go away, so the best I can hope for after reading this book is to comprehend the intuitive motivations of both myself and others, and then comprehend why those motivations can lead to morals that steer reasoning to opposite conclusions.The author, Jonathan Haidt, is a psychologist who has specialized on the nature of morals This book could have beenaccurately titled The Moral Mind The book is divided into three parts The main point of the first part is what Haidt calls the first principle of moral psychology Intuitions come first, strategic reasoning second. The second part of the book explores the second principle of moral psychology There sto morality than harm and fairness. The third part presented the principle that morality binds and blinds.Part One This author weaves together a history of moral psychology and the author s own story to create a sense of movement from rationalism to intuitionism The author throws in historical anecdotes, quotations from the ancients, and praise of a few visionaries The author then set up metaphors such as the rider and the elephant that recur throughout the book He then discusses the evidence to tune up the reader s intuitions about moral psychology.The message here is that value judgments are seldom products of rational deliberation We are hardwired by evolution to function first with our emotional brain at an intuitive level, and what follows may claim to be rational reasoning that explains our judgment but is actually rationalization of quick intuitive decisions The inherited human brain is also social in nature and must exhibit behavior that is compliant with a person s social environment i.e group or tribe This explains why people don t necessarily vote for their own self interests Instead they vote in compliance with the values and belief system of the group they most closely associate with Part TwoThe main point of this section of the book is that conservatives base their morality on six types of considerations or value judgments care harm, liberty oppression, fairness cheating, loyalty betrayal, authority subversion, and sanctity degradation Liberals base their morality on three areas care harm, liberty oppression, and fairness cheating Haidt says this gives conservatives an advantage when campaigning for votes because they can appeal to their supporters in six ways and liberals can appeal to only three Part ThreeHaidt in this section drives home the point that the tendency for humans to form morals has been ingrained into humans by evolution Humans are products of multilevel selection, which made us both selfish and groupish Haidt describes it as being 90 percent chimp and 10 percent bee He suggests that religion played a crucial role in our evolutionary history our religious minds co evolved with our religious practices to create ever larger moral communities, particularly after the advent of agriculture Quotations of Interest to MeI was surprised to learn from the following quotation that conservatives understand liberals better than liberals understand conservatives After the following quotation in the book Haidt explains the reasons for the lack of understanding on the part of liberals In a study I did with Jesse Graham and Brian Nosek, we tested how well liberals and conservatives could understand each other We askedthan two thousand American visitors to fill out the moral Foundations Questionnaire One third of the time they were asked to fill it out normally, answering as themselves One third of the time they were asked to fill it out as they think a typical liberal would respond One third of the time they were asked to fill it out as a typical conservative would respond This design allowed us to examine the stereotypes that each side held about the other More important, it allowed us to asses how accurate they were by comparing people s expectations about typical partisans to the actual responses from partisans of the left and the right Who was best able to pretend to be the other The results were clear and consistent Moderates and conservatives were most accurate in their predictions, whether they were pretending to be liberals or conservatives Liberals were the least accurate, especially those who described themselves as very liberal The biggest errors in the whole study came when liberals answered the Care and Fairness questions while pretending to be conservatives When faced with questions such as One of the worst things a person could do is hurt a defenseless animal or Justice is the most important requirement for a society, liberals assumed that conservatives would disagree The following quotation is not really part of the main focus of this book, but I found it interesting because it illuminates an irony about many Christians who emphasize correct belief i.e orthodoxy whereas modern polling shows correct belief not to be a reliable predictor of neighborliness and good citizenship Haidt is quoting from Putnam and Campbell s 2010 book, American Grace How Religion Divides and Unites Us. Why are religious people better neighbors and citizens To find out, Putnam and Campbell included on one of their surveys a long list of questions about religious beliefs e.g., Do you believe in hell Do you agree that we will all be called before God to answer for our sins as well as questions about religious practices e.g., How often do you read holy scriptures How often do you pray These beliefs and practices turned out to matter very little Whether you believe in hell, whether you pray daily, whether you are a Catholic, Protestant, Jew, or Mormon none of these things correlated with generosity The only thing that was reliable and powerfully associated with the moral benefits of religion was how enmeshed people were in relationships with their co religionists.It s the friendships and groups activities, carried out within a moral matrix that emphasizes selflessness That s what brings out the best in people.Putnam and Campbell reject the New Atheist emphasis on belief and reach a conclusion straight out of Durkheim It is religious belongingness that matters for neighborliness, not religious believing The following is Haidt s definition of moral systems Moral systems are interlocking sets of values, virtues, norms, practices, identities, institutions, technology, and evolved psychological mechanisms that work together to oppress or regulate self interest and make cooperative societies possible This definition makes morals dependent on the social environment There is no one single definition of morality that is true in all cultures.Some Links of InterestThe following links came from the Book s Website.Here is a pdf file of Chapter 9, the chapter on multi level selection.Here is a pdf file with all figures and images from all chaptersHere is a pdf file will all of the references the bibliography Here is a pdf file with all of the end notesYou can read the introduction to the book here, and you can read a condensed version of Ch 12 on politics and polarization at Reason Magazine.Here is a summary outline of the book, with interesting comments and links, from Jan C HardenberghHere is the out take from ch 6 on Virtue Ethics, as referred to in Haidt s NYT Stone essay_________________The following short review of this book is from the PageADay Book Lover s Calendar for November 28, 2014 Hopefully, you managed to avoid talking politics during yesterday s feast Unfortunately, it s much harder to ignore the antagonism of the larger political sphere At the heart of our irritation and often outrage toward other people s belief systems is a lack of understanding In this cogent, thought provoking book, Jonathan Haidt not only explains the psychological and moral bases of various belief systems, but he also goes on to propose viable bridges among them It s heartening to imagine that the national discourse could one day learn from his exampleThe Righteous Mind Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion,by Jonathan Haidt Pantheon, 2012


  4. says:

    I had great expectations for this book after watching the author give an introduction in the Colbert report However, the book didn t hold up to it s name These are some of grudges I have against this book 1 The author doesn t tackle conservative vs progressive morals He tackles left wing vs right wing morals This is a typical blunder made by the average American And I would ve overlooked it, as the book is geared towards an American audience But the author is a professor in moral psych I had great expectations for this book after watching the author give an introduction in the Colbert report However, the book didn t hold up to it s name These are some of grudges I have against this book 1 The author doesn t tackle conservative vs progressive morals He tackles left wing vs right wing morals This is a typical blunder made by the average American And I would ve overlooked it, as the book is geared towards an American audience But the author is a professor in moral psychology he should ve known better To illustrate what I mean in America, conservatives fight for free markets, the freedom to bare arms, and less government intervention However in countries that have not embraced capitalism as much, the liberals or progressives are the ones who fight for free markets, less government intervention and individualist ideals such as the right to bare arms and freedom of speech It would ve made muchsense in a philosophical context if the argument was about progressives who want change and conservatives who want the things the way they are But then the narrative would be too simple of course we don t live in a perfect world, so we have to change society and it s prejudices and beliefs Then the real question is what do we do to bring about change This of course is a difficult question, and I don t expect an answer from one single book But it s sad to see the author moving away from this simple approach for the sake of being in the middle ground which brings to the second point 2 The author tries too hard to stay on the middle ground.Have you ever witnessed fights where you absolutely know that one party is being unreasonable, and someone comes along and tries to be fair to both parties Obviously the unreasonable party profits and the reasonable party loses because the negotiations were trying to be fair to both parties It s a simple case of the Anchoring effect whoever anchors the furthest from the truth, wins The author s six moral foundations is an excellent example for this He defines Care, Liberty, Fairness, Loyalty, Authority and Sanctity as the six pillars of morality In his haste to become neutral he assumes that these should be given equal weight Really Does he not know what Authority and Loyalty has done for us human history Forget the mass genocides, and mass cult suicides, he should at least be aware of the classical psychology experiments like the Stanford Prison experiment, the Robber s cave experiment, and the Milgram experiment. But no, the author gives the same value to Authority that he gives to Care This is not a simple side argument, this is his main thesis He derives everything else he says in the book from this comparison And obviously, as we say in the scientific community garbage in, garbage out 3 The author s epiphany comes from his visit to India, where he associated conservatism with likeable people He probably didn t stay long enough to see the dark side of the culture Unlike the author, I was born in the East And I can tell you first hand that the morals which seem to paint a pretty picture of eastern culture, is just a pretty picture nothing , nothing less Hiding behind that pretty picture is a culture of corruption, a culture where shame and guilt are the driving forces of society and a culture where an individual is judged by his her group race, creed, school, hometown etc A culture where you must bow down to someone just because they are older than you, or are in a higher paygrade than you.I understand there are problems with the current individualist culture in the West But believe me, the East is not the solution Far from it, it s a backward step in human progression The solutions to the problems of the West should come from the minds that have already evolved passed the hive mind Having said all that, the book is a good read It s written beautifully with a style commonly found in most best selling non fiction books these days It get s you thinking, even if it s in the wrong direction And it does point towards why there s a rift between left wing and right wing American political groups I agree with the author that a lot of left wing supporters just go with the tide and need to realize where the right wing groups are coming from What I don t agree is placing the philosophical ideal of conservatism on the same ground as the philosophical ideal of progressivism


  5. says:

    For a long time now I have been coming to the conclusion that if one is to believe capitalism is essentially a meritocracy and if one is also to acknowledge that the inequities of capitalist societies mean that social mobility particularly in the United States, for instance is virtually non existent, then one also needs some way of explaining how something that looks like it is without merit actually is the embodiment of merit.And often this is where biology comes to the rescue Genes have For a long time now I have been coming to the conclusion that if one is to believe capitalism is essentially a meritocracy and if one is also to acknowledge that the inequities of capitalist societies mean that social mobility particularly in the United States, for instance is virtually non existent, then one also needs some way of explaining how something that looks like it is without merit actually is the embodiment of merit.And often this is where biology comes to the rescue Genes have, for over a century, provided a way to explain complex social inequalities and to make the victims responsible for their victimhood This book fits within that long tradition.Now, a key scientific idea that should guide such investigations is Occam s Razor that is, any explanation ought to start with the fewest number of assumptions and then only add entities such as genes, say when it was shown categorically that they are necessary to explain facts that can t be explained in any other way That is, if you were trying to explain human behaviour in society, for instance, you might pause before talking about genes, if for no other reason than that they add a level of complexity to your answer that you might well be able to do without.The part of this book that particularly stopped me was this quote about research he conducted in both the US and Brazil Unexpectedly, the effect of social class was much larger than the effect of city In other words, well educated people in all three cities weresimilar to each other than they were to their lower class neighbors You might think that after reaching this finding he would consider the role that social class plays in forming moral reasoning, that he might lookclosely at why people from lower social classes might find it attractive to believe in a wider range of moral imperatives than do those from the educated middle classes and see what benefits this provides working class people But that is almost the last time he mentions social class at all, other than to point out about 100 pages later, that working class people are likely to vote Republican and against their own economic interests because they are voting in line with their moral interests Yes, undoubtedly the case but why is that so Why is that related to social class Why are the working class most likely to vote against their economic interests You see, I can t accept the bio babble that certain genes have shuffled their way down to the bottom rungs of society and that makes these peopleauthoritarian andreligious and so thereforelikely to vote Republican The other thing that simply isn t explained here is why society has changed so comprehensively in the last 30 years You know, after WW2 the Keynesian consensus was so well entrenched that even Milton Friedman is quoted as saying, We are all Keynesians now And yet, today that might as well have been a million years ago Today greed is good and dogs eat dogs there is a universal war on the welfare state if this is down to genes and innate moral feelings, they really must evolve very, very quickly even faster than the 50,000 years talked about so extensively in this book.Another alternative might be to look at how social structures impact on moral feeling and behaviour This would have the benefit of operating at the same level as the phenomena that is trying to be explained Who benefits from the existing arrangement of society, what tools do they have at their disposal to justify that arrangement, how might the ideas that have become increasingly accepted by various groups in society over the last few decades something the author himself acknowledges by saying how muchpartisan the US has become over that time help us understand these shifting preferences To me, one of the major shifts in society that has run concurrent with this shift towardspartisanship and heightened conservative feelings of the working classes, has been the vastly increased inequity in society Rather than turn to genes to explain this, I would look to what Bourdieu refers to as symbolic violence If one section of society is to havethan another section then it can only sustain this in one of two ways it can either use literal violence something that has happened extensively throughout history and remains ultimately the reason for a police force and a state or it can use symbolic violence that is, make it clear to everyone that the reason why the goods of society are unequally divided is because some people havenatural ability and have appliedeffort that is, havemerit and therefore they deserveof the good things.This book is full of psychological examples presented to prove certain points along the way The one I will use to explain my point about the power of merit in justifying inequality is a game they get students to play in psychology classes They have two players and one of them is given 10 and told they can divide that amount anyway they see fit between themselves and the person they are with The catch is that the other person can reject the offered division and then neither of them will get anything A neoliberal economist would say that even if the division is 9.99 to 0.01 the second person should accept the offer since they are better off with one cent than without it And yet, this isn t how the game pans out People punish those who offer them less than what they think of as a fair division say 60 40 and often the first person will offer 50 50 But this is an odd version of the game a kind of null case The money in this game has appeared out of thin air and so the first person s claim to it is viewed as having been purely a thing of luck As soon as there is any suggesting that the first person might have deserved the money, then the dynamic between the players changes immediately Then the second person expects much less of the goods, and would feel outraged if they were offered a 50 50 split Now they actively want the other person to have their fair share of the reward that is, most of it.So, when Trump says, My father gave me a very small loan in 1975, and I built it into a company that s worth many, many billions of dollars This isn t just a man blowing his own trumpet, or even him just twisting the truth for his own aggrandisement, it is, in fact, virtually a necessity in modern day social discourse You have to be self made or the moral justification for your having so much is undermined by your lack of merit according to the rules that govern our society as a meritocracy, you have to be able to show natural ability coupled with hard work as the basis for your wealth, and invariably, no matter what advantages people start out with, that is the story they tell I think work by people like Jean Anyon into how different social classes are educated and the levels of authoritarianism that are manifest in those different educational experiences, or bell hooks work on how African Americans learn to operate in a system of dual consciousness coupled with a kind of self loathing that perpetuates white supremacist modes of oppression upon black bodies, or Goffman s work on the presentation of self in society, or Bourdieu s on how social classes manifest distinction and thereby social cohesion similar to the findings related here back to Durkheim, although without the bio babble provide muchcompelling and interesting visions of social phenomena since they are explained is social terms, not biological ones And as I implied at the beginning of this review, I ve never liked supposed biological explanations for complex social phenomena and I immediately bristle when they are presented as the simplest explanation for the state of society Occam s Razor should immediately demand their removal until they can be shown to be not just helpful but necessary to explaining those phenomena I don t believe that has been done here


  6. says:

    This book is about why it s so hard for us to get along We are indeed all stuck here for a while, so let s at least do what we can to understand why we are so easily divided into hostile groups, Politics and religion are both expressions of our underlying moral psychology, and an understanding of that psychology can help to bring people together My goal in this book is to drain some of the heat, anger, and divisiveness out of these topics and replace them with awe, wonder, and curiosity This book is about why it s so hard for us to get along We are indeed all stuck here for a while, so let s at least do what we can to understand why we are so easily divided into hostile groups, Politics and religion are both expressions of our underlying moral psychology, and an understanding of that psychology can help to bring people together My goal in this book is to drain some of the heat, anger, and divisiveness out of these topics and replace them with awe, wonder, and curiosity We are downright lucky that we evolved this complex moral psychology that allowed our species to burst out of the forests and savannas and into the delights, comforts, and extraordinary peacefulness of modern societies in just a few thousand years I want to show you that an obsession with righteousness leading inevitably to self righteousness is the normal human condition It is a feature of our evolutionary design, not a bug or error that crept into minds that would otherwise be objective and rational I hardly feel qualified to make any kind of judgments on this book having little background in philosophy, especially moral philosophy, so I especially appreciate Haidt s lucid summary of the development of moral philosophy through examples and hypotheticals.I remember several years ago having a visit from the local anti abortion denizens, nice people, very concerned about youth, etc They steered the conversation to abortion, their favorite topic Being of a liberal and hopefully rational and reasoned mindset myself, I described a book I had recently read,The Facts of Life Science and the Abortion Controversy by Harold J Morowitz, James Trefil, a small, excellent analysis of the abortion debate that contains a plea for looking at the issue rationally I described their suggestion that we need to decide what constitutes human and then see when the fetus acquires the capability cerebral cortex to be human, etc etc To which the response was, well, I don t believe that All debate and discussions ceases when that statement arrives Now, I could have said, well, you old biddy, I don t give a fuck what you believe, I m trying to find some common ground here But, my mother having raised me as a good little boy who is always polite to old people, I merely sat there rather stunned That s the problem How do you create a discussion of issues when either side can just say, well, I don t believe that.This is not just a conservative or right wing problem Try having a rational or reasonable discussion about the merits of circumcision, climate autism, raw milk or veganism I guarantee the true believers will immediately assemble with truckloads of vitriol We all suffer from what Haidt calls confirmation bias, that is, our gut tells us what to believe first and then we seek out justifications for that belief.Haidt s book reaffirms what has become fairly obvious we divide ourselves into tribes and those tribes consist of like minded people which we use to validate our intuitive predispositions His stated goal is to attempt to find a way to bridge the divide between two different moral world views., and to find a way for each side to at least understand the other s perspective.Both left and right are motivated by the moral foundations of care, fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority and sanctity But they differ qualitatively liberals tend to careabout suffering and violence conservatives care about harm done to others but not as intensely Conservatives, on the other hand, placeemphasis on fairness, i.e getting what you deserve Both sides value liberty but have differing definition as to what constitutes the oppressor Similarly, with fairness, each side values it but define it differently liberals view it from the standpoint of equality while conservatives look to proportionality, i.e fairness is being rewarded for your accomplishments and if you work harder you should be rewarded proportionally The biggest divisions relate to sanctity, authority and loyalty You can easily guess where the preferences of conservatives and liberals lie Haidt suggests that liberals will fail to gain wider acceptance until they come to terms with those three moral values and find someway to create their own vocabulary validating them I would add that liberals will have to beaccepting of groups, particularly religious ones as much as I despise them, which serve an evolutionary need to discount selfishness and promote group adherence and benefits.To some extent that s why I am so puzzled by the right s celebration of Ayn Rand who promoted the antithesis of group think by celebrating independence and selfishness, i.e think of yourself first and what benefits accrue to yourself through your actions She hated coercion both governmental and religious, in particular, yet both encourage group adherence and loyalty.I just wonder how much of what Haidt says come from his intuitive side the elephant and how much from the rational or reasoning part the rider Here s a quote that struck meAnd why do so many Westerners, even secular ones, continue to see choices about food and sex as being heavily loaded with moral significance Liberals sometimes say that religious conservatives are sexual prudes for whom anything other than missionary position intercourse within marriage is a sin But conservatives can just as well make fun of liberal struggles to choose a balanced breakfast balanced among moral concerns about free range eggs, fair trade coffee, naturalness, and a variety of toxins, some of which such as genetically modified corn and soybeans pose a greater threat spiritually than biologically


  7. says:

    W hen a group of people make something sacred, the members of the cult lose the ability to think clearly about it Morality binds and blindsJonathan Haidt, The Righteous MindJonathan Haidt give a nice social science explanation for how we align politically and how we are built to disagree This is one of those books that seems to fit in the same evolutionary psychology space as Bob Wright s The Moral Animal It is a combination of ethnography evolutionary psychology experimental psychW hen a group of people make something sacred, the members of the cult lose the ability to think clearly about it Morality binds and blindsJonathan Haidt, The Righteous MindJonathan Haidt give a nice social science explanation for how we align politically and how we are built to disagree This is one of those books that seems to fit in the same evolutionary psychology space as Bob Wright s The Moral Animal It is a combination of ethnography evolutionary psychology experimental psychology.In The Righteous Mind , Haidt isn t seeking simply to explain why some people vote Left and others vote Right, or why some people believe in God A and other believe in God B Haidt s bigger purpose is to explain how we are all hardwired to use reason NOT to MAKE our moral decisions choices, but rather to use reason to BUTTRESS the choices about God, politics, etc that we ve already made.While I think his approach is a bit too simplistic, I still use his Moral Foundations Theory to explain why my father and I might have some overlap in values but different political views I like the whole matrix of 1 Care harm cherishing and protecting others.2 Fairness cheating rendering justice according to shared rules Alternate name Proportionality 3 Liberty oppression the loathing of tyranny.4 Loyalty betrayal standing with your group, family, nation Alternate name Ingroup 5 Authority subversion obeying tradition and legitimate authority Alternate name Respect 6 Sanctity degradation abhorrence for disgusting things, foods, actions Alternate name Purity Do I agree that liberals rank certain of these values higher than conservatives Yes.Do I agree that conservatives might value some of these foundational valuesthan liberals Yes.Do I agree that this list is the end all, be all of our Moral compass No I think this is a good beginning It is another social science draft that gives another way to look at how we think, how our thinking has evolved, and how we interact with each other Any theory involving the human brain is bound to be a bit of a game in the dark I think there are answers and many of the answers are compelling, but not all answers will be final or correct Look, there were certain parts of this book that just felt right, so I will spend a bit of time building a rational reason why it feels right and then post that reason on Goodreads


  8. says:

    I expected this book to be good, but I did not expect it to be so rich in ideas and dense with information Haidt covers farterritory than the subtitle of the book implies Not only is he attempting to explain why people are morally tribal, but also the way morality works in the human brain, the evolutionary origins of moral feelings, the role of moral psychology in the history of civilization, the origin and function of religion, and how we can apply all this information to the modern pol I expected this book to be good, but I did not expect it to be so rich in ideas and dense with information Haidt covers farterritory than the subtitle of the book implies Not only is he attempting to explain why people are morally tribal, but also the way morality works in the human brain, the evolutionary origins of moral feelings, the role of moral psychology in the history of civilization, the origin and function of religion, and how we can apply all this information to the modern political situation among much else along the way.Haidt begins with the roles of intuition and reasoning in making moral judgments He contends that our moral reasoning the reasons we aver for our moral judgments consists of mere post hoc rationalizations for our moral intuitions We intuitively condemn or praise an action, and then search for reasons to justify our intuitive reaction He bases his argument on the results of experiments in which the subjects were told a story usually involving a taboo violation of some kind, such as incest and then asked whether the story involved any moral breach or not These stories were carefully crafted so as not to involve harm to anyone such as a brother and sister having sex in a lonely cabin and never telling anyone, and using contraception to prevent the risk of pregnancy Almost inevitably he found the same result people would condemn the action, but then struggle to find coherent reasons to do so To use Haidt s metaphor, our intuition is like a client in a court case, and our reasoning is the lawyer its job is to win the case for intuition, not to find the truth This is hardly a new idea Haidt s position was summed up several hundred years before he was born, by Benjamin FranklinSo convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to doAn intuitionist view of morality was also put forward by David Hume and Adam Smith But Haidt s account is novel for the evolutionary logic behind his argument and the empirical research used to back his claims This is exemplified in his work on moral axes Our moral intuition is not one unified axis from right to wrong There are, rather, six independent axes harm, proportionality, equality, loyalty, authority, and purity In other words, actions can be condemned for a variety of reasons for harming others, for cheating others, for oppressing others, for betraying one s group, for disrespecting authority, and for desecrating sacred objects, beings, or places These axes of morality arose because of evolutionary pressure Humans who cared for their offspring and their families survived better, as did humans who had a greater sensitivity to being cheated by freeloaders proportionality and who resisted abusive alpha males trying to exploit them equality Similarly, humans who were loyal to their group and who respected a power hierarchy outperformed less loyal and less compliant humans, because they createdcoherent groups this explanation relies on group selection theory see below And lastly, our sense of purity and desecration usually linked to religious and superstitious notions arose out of our drive to avoid physical contamination for example, pork was morally prohibited because it was unsafe to eat Most people in the world use all six of these axes in their moral systems It is only in the West particularly in the leftist West where we focus mainly on the first three harm, proportionality, and equality Indeed, one of Haidt s most interesting points is that the right tends to besuccessful in elections because it appeals to a broader moral palate it appeals tomoral receptors in the brain than left wing morality which primarily appeals to the axis of help and harm , and is thuspersuasive This brings us to Part III of the book, by far the most speculative Haidt begins with a defense of group selection the theory that evolution can operate on the level of groups competing against one another, rather than on individuals This may sound innocuous, but it is actually a highly controversial topic in biology, as Haidt himself acknowledges Haidt thinks that group selection is needed to explain the groupishness displayed by humans our ability to put aside personal interest in favor of our groups and makes a case for the possibility of group selection occurring during the last 10,000 or so years of our history He makes the theory seem plausible to a layperson like me , but I think the topic is too complex to be covered in one short chapter True or not, Haidt uses the theory of group theory to account for what he calls hiveish behavior that humans sometimes display Why are soldiers willing to sacrifice themselves for their brethren Why do people like to take ecstasy and rave Why do we waste so much money and energy going to football games and cheering for our teams All these behaviors are bizarre when you see humans as fundamentally self seeking they only make sense, Haidt argues, if humans possess the ability to transcend their usual self seeking perspective and identify themselves fully with a group Activating this self transcendence requires special circumstances, and it cannot be activated indefinitely but it produces powerful effects that can permanently alter a person s perspective Haidt then uses group selection and this idea of a hive switch to explain religion Religions are not ultimately about beliefs, he says, even though religions necessarily involve supernatural beliefs of some kind Rather, the social functions of religions are primarily to bind groups together This conclusion is straight out of Durkheim Haidt s innovation well, the credit should probably go to David Sloan Wilson, who wrote Darwin s Cathedral is to combine Durkheim s social explanation of religion with a group selection theory and a plausible evolutionary story too long to relate here As for empirical support, Haidt cites a historical study of communes, which found that religious communes survived much longer than their secular counterparts, thus suggesting that religions substantially contribute to social cohesion and stability He also cites several studies showing that religious people tend to bealtruistic and generous than their atheistic peers and this is apparently unaffected by creed or dogma, depending only on attendance rates of religious services Indeed, for someone who describes himself as an atheist, Haidt is remarkably positive on the subject of religion he sees religions as valuable institutions that promote the moral level and stability of a society The book ends with a proposed explanation of the political spectrum people genetically predisposed to derive pleasure from novelty and to be less sensitive to threats become left wing, and vice versa the existence of libertarians isn t explained, and perhaps can t be and finally with an application of the book s theses to the political arena Since we are predisposed to be groupish to display strong loyalty towards our own group and to be terrible at questioning our own beliefs since our intuitions direct our reasoning , we should expect to be blind to the arguments of our political adversaries and to regard them as evil But the reality, Haidt argues, is that each side possesses a valuable perspective, and we need to have civil debate in order to reach reasonable compromises Pretty thrilling stuff Well, there is my summary of the book As you can see, for such a short book, written for a popular audience, The Righteous Mind is impressively vast in scope Haidt must come to grips with philosophy, politics, sociology, anthropology, psychology, biology, history from Hume, to Darwin, to Durkheim incorporating mountains of empirical evidence and several distinct intellectual traditions into one coherent, readable whole I was constantly impressed by the performance But for all that, I had the constant, nagging feeling that Haidt was intentionally playing the devil s advocate.Haidt argues that our moral intuition guides our moral reasoning, in a book that rationally explores our moral judgments and aims to convince its readers through reason The very existence of his book undermines his uni directional model of intuitions to reasoning Being reasonable is not easy but we can take steps to approach argumentsrationally One of these steps is to summarize another person s argument before critiquing it, which is what I ve done in this review He argues that religions are not primarily about beliefs but about group fitness but his evolutionary explanation of religion would be rejected by those who deny evolution on religious grounds and even if specific beliefs don t influence altruistic behavior, they certainly do influence which groups homosexuals, biologists are shunned Haidt also argues that religions are valuable because of their ability to promote group cohesion but if religions necessarily involve irrational beliefs, as Haidt admits, is it really wise to base a moral order on religious notions If religions contribute to the social order by encouraging people to sacrifice their best interest for illogical reasons such as in the commune example should they really be praised The internal tension continues Haidt argues that conservatives have an advantage in elections because they appeal to a broader moral palate, not just care and harm and he argues that conservatives are valuable because their broad morality makes themsensitive to disturbances of the social order Religious conservative groups, which enforce loyalty and obedience, arecohesive and durable than secular groups that value tolerance But Haidt himself endorses utilitarianism based solely on the harm axis and ends the book with a plea for moral tolerance Again, the existence of Haidt s book presupposes secular tolerance, which makes his stance confusing.Haidt s arguments with regard to broad morality come dangerously close to the so called naturalistic fallacy equating what is natural with what is good He compares moral axes to taste receptors a morality that appeals to only one axis will be unsuccessful, just like a cuisine that appeals to only one taste receptor will fail to satisfy But this analogy leads directly to a counter point we know that we have evolved to love sugar and salt, but this preference is no longer adaptive, indeed it is unhealthy and it is equally possible that our moral environment has changed so much that our moral senses are no longer adaptive.In any case, I think that Haidt s conclusions about leftist morality are incorrect Haidt asserts that progressive morality rests primarily on the axis of care and harm, and that loyalty, authority, and purity are actively rejected by liberals liberals in the American sense, as leftist But this is implausible Liberals can be extremely preoccupied with loyalty just ask any Bernie Sanders supporter The difference is not that liberals don t care about loyalty, but that they tend to be loyal to different types of groups parties, demographics, and ideologies rather than countries And the psychology of purity and desecration is undoubtedly involved in the left s concern with racism, sexism, homophobia, or privilege accusing someone of speaking from privilege creates a moral taint as severe as advocating sodomy does in other circles.I think Haidt s conclusion is rather an artifact of the types of questions that he asks in his surveys to measure loyalty and purity Saying the pledge of allegiance and going to church are not the only manifestations of these impulses.For my part, I think the main difference between left wing and right wing morality is the attitude towards authority leftists are skeptical of authority, while conservatives are skeptical of equality This is hardly a new conclusion but it does contradict Haidt s argument that conservatives think of moralitybroadly And considering that asecular and tolerant morality has steadily increased in popularity over the last 300 years, it seems prima facie implausible to argue that this way of thinking is intrinsically unappealing to the human brain If we want to explain why Republicans win so many elections, I think we cannot do it using psychology alone.The internal tensions of this book can make it frustrating to read, even if it is consistently fascinating It seems that Haidt had a definite political purpose in writing the book, aiming to make liberalsopen to conservative arguments but in de emphasizing so completely the value of reason and truth in moral judgments, in politics, and in religion he gets twisted into contradictions and risks undermining his entire project Be that as it may, I think his research is extremely valuable Like him, I think it is vital that we understand how morality works socially and psychologically What is natural is not necessarily what is right but in order to achieve what is right, it helps to know what we re working with


  9. says:

    On page 88 the author writes As an intuitionist , I d say that the worship of reason is itself an illustration of one of the most long lived delusions in Western history the rationalist delusion Apparently he hasn t noticed that reason has taken us to the moon, given us longer and healthier lives, allowed us to travel the world, to communicate with loved ones over vaste distances, even allowed his book to exist The author is a dim witted charlatan and spends the rest of the book making a On page 88 the author writes As an intuitionist , I d say that the worship of reason is itself an illustration of one of the most long lived delusions in Western history the rationalist delusion Apparently he hasn t noticed that reason has taken us to the moon, given us longer and healthier lives, allowed us to travel the world, to communicate with loved ones over vaste distances, even allowed his book to exist The author is a dim witted charlatan and spends the rest of the book making a convincing case of it Calling his subject moral psychology he pretends to offer us universal truths when, in fact, he is dealing only with parochial matters currently fashionable political concerns in the U.S As if he discovered it, he dwells repeatedly on the well recognized phenomenon that opinions are rarely reached through reason but rather the reverse once held, reasons are found to justify and defend opinions In the matter of moral prejudices emotion governs reason More accurately, it governs rationalization rather than reason The author confuses the two But, since emotions dominate, he concludes as many before him did that to change opinion you must make your appeal emotionally giving credence to the moral standing of opposing opinion To change opinion you must perceive and appreciate the moral stance behind opposing opinion Good advice but hardly original To demonize your opponent cannot bring about peace and compromise For political liberals that means recognizing that conservatives are not without morality To unveil conservative morality he parces morals into five, later morphing into six, categories This strikes me as a scheme as good as any other I can imagine parsing it otherwise, though As to his demonstrating his thesis with graphs I am highly suspicious of his results No error bars are given No details on the data Nor on the randomness of his sampling nor even does he list the questions he used He does mention some of them Considering that close to a third of his 420 pages is devoted to addenda mostly chapter notes a few details of his investigations could have been included Such a mountain of notes often reveals, not scholarship, but rather a desire to impress untutored readers So I discount his research The essential thing that it does is to grant morality to conservative thinking A good gesture towards peaceful accord.There I ve spared you the pain of reading 318 confused and poorly written pages with over 100 of addenda Lucky you


  10. says:

    At first I gave this book 3 stars because I felt like I might have been too critical After thinking about it a while, I decided I was not merely critical enough This book should be renamed How to Justify the Action of Oppressing Human Beings In the Name of Getting Along You can take any of Haidt s current examples of what to him seems like an oppressive act, as he assures you there is some merit to the thinking of oppressive individuals, and replace it with any of the most embarrassing at At first I gave this book 3 stars because I felt like I might have been too critical After thinking about it a while, I decided I was not merely critical enough This book should be renamed How to Justify the Action of Oppressing Human Beings In the Name of Getting Along You can take any of Haidt s current examples of what to him seems like an oppressive act, as he assures you there is some merit to the thinking of oppressive individuals, and replace it with any of the most embarrassing atrocities committed by human being in our past You will find that his explanations of, They meant well and What they were really trying to do was insert good intention which requires the exploitation or subjugation of other human beings not in the ingroup , could apply to the absolute worst atrocities of the past So, if you are interested in finding a middle ground at the expense of the most vulnerable members of our society, this book will make you feel great If you choose to read it, you will be treated to the tired old argument that suggests that if someone gives to charity btw Haidt that would be a charitable act toward only those people they find acceptable they must be a better human being than someone else who does not donate money or time to a designated charity but instead marches in the streets or takes other time consuming action that result in SOCIAL CHANGE for the groups who needed it most This book was disappointing on so many levels for me I love the studies he talked about I was sure I was going to love the book before I even turned to page one But each turn of the page demonstrated how easy it is for some to use science as a means to help people justify the continuation of horrible behavior that has been going on for far too long I am shocked at the good ratings this book received


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