The Moral Roots Of Liberals And Conservatives

20 09 2008

Jonathan Haidt speaks about how our liberal or conservative views are shaped by our degrees of adherence to the five different types of morals.  Fascinating research.
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6 responses

21 09 2008
Chuck

Interesting viewpoints. Near the beginning, Haidt speaks to what he calls “moral diversity.” At about that point, his entire argument loses its way; there can be no moral diversity, which by definition is the most ludicrous of oxymorons. Yet he tries, rather unsuccessfully, to build his house of cards on this concept, which untimately causes its collapse.

At best, the concept of moral diversity requires a dilution of a set of principles, which one is driven by their nature to embrace. You have yours, I have mine; while they are not completely mutually exclusive, where those fundamentally differ is not open to negotiation. Each of us would probably argue, to no avail of the other, that our particular brand of shit was apple butter, and eat it to prove it!

Moral diversity, thus would require embracing things foreign or repugnant to that fundamental set of principles, and results, at best, in paranoia; at worst, in schizophrenia. One cannot, quite literally, serve God and mammon, as it is written; the concept of moral diversity would require that, and such is contrary to mankind’s fundamental nature.

In our imperfect world, and driven by our imperfect nature, none of us are purely moral. Likewise, few, if any of us are purely either amoral, or immoral. Almost all of us, unless we have a mental aberration that prohibits sanity and reason, have some sort of “feet of clay,” fundamental human weaknesses that make a mockery of a claim to the purity of driven snow.

To a greater or lesser extent, this aberration is present in each of us, and is the expectation gradient for our individual standards. Without sitting in a purely diverse, all-embracing environment totally devoid of judgment, as your speaker intimates we should do, we cannot assign morality, amorality or immorality any degree of transcendancy, one somehow “better than” the other.

However, where Haidt’s argument falls apart is the irrefutable fact that there are absolutes. Truth, for example, cannot be dishonest, else by definition it is no longer truth. Creation cannot be evolution, else, by definition it is not creation. Adherence to the Great Commandments of Christ cannot be accompanied by compromise, in any way, shape or form, else the dilution is no longer adherence. To attempt to dilute this is to embrace junk philosophy; moral absolutes are precisely that, both moral and absolute.

So. Who gets to define these absolutes? Certainly not me, I am a poor creature with feet of clay. The Apostle Peter? You know, the Rock on which the church is built, yet the one whose feet of clay caused him, in the ultimate display of moral cowardice, to deny Christ three times? Again, hardly, though he wrote some very important parts of the new testament. Anyone else? Pick an Apostle, including even Paul, nee Saul of Tarsus — ’nuff said!

Elijah, perhaps, who was, indeed, taken bodily into heaven, if we are to accept the tenets of the Old Testament? No, he, even, is not a deity.

Thus, we are left with only a Diety, as the One Who can define moral absolutes. Haidt speaks to those qualities which are possessed at birth, and strives, I think unsuccessfully, to turn them into moral absolutes. I rather view those as fundamental building blocks, on which, with learning and experience, the human, capable of assimilation, can build an understanding of moral absolutes.

And, with respect, to deny the existence of a Diety is thus to remove the existence of moral absolutes. No other entity can define them.

Best,
Chuck

22 09 2008
SuperJesus

Once I realized your argument hinges on the “morality comes from God” fallacy it was apparent that you failed to grasp any of the ideas being presented in the video and I lost all interest in your comment. That said, I do deny the existence of a diety and I also happen to deny the existence of moral absolutes.

Feel free to actually listen to what was presented and comment back.

22 09 2008
Chuck

I indeed listened to what was said, Mr. SJ. What I wrote should reflect that fact:
· That moral diversity is the worst kind of oxymoron. The two are mutually exclusive.
· That an attempt to develop moral diversity must, by definition, result in a schizophrenia.
· That fundamental human weakness destroys any argument for fundamental human purity. Thus, morality cannot derive from the nature of man.

If we accept that humans are not purely evil, then it must derive from at worst a dilution, at best a sea change, in fundamental human weakness. This must derive from somewhere. I maintain that it does not derive from within us. His cute little stories about baby animals who play together and grow into a bonded group notwithstanding, we resemble those murderous little creatures not at all. Animals bond together for survival. Once that is assured, they busy themselves taking from each other. After the kill, animals will fight over every scrap thereof. Humans, with perhaps exceptions for the Hitlers, or Stalins, or Pol Pots of this world – or the utterly amoral thief or murderer, will not. And, while you may wish to argue that life is evolutionary, you can hardly argue that the same is true of morality.

I heard what he said. I disagree with it, for the reasons listed above. Your argument (and his) is driven by your atheistic viewpoint. Mine is driven by Theism. I did not try to convince you of the fallacy of your ways, but I did try to provide a counterpoint to your speaker’s viewpoint with my own.

Best,
Chuck

22 09 2008
SuperJesus

Do yourself a favor Chuck and go read “Our Inner Ape” or any other book by primatologist Frans de Wall and then maybe you can offer an informed opinion about human/animal nature.

The video makes less a point about moral ambiguity and diversity and focuses instead on what people of different political leanings consider moral attributes and behaviors. You’re so busy being upset by what you think he’s talking about and arguing in your own head you cannot be bothered to listen to the points he’s actually making.

22 09 2008
Barbara

Well, I’ll give you credit Chuck. I wasn’t sure I was going to watch this video, but after reading your comments I couldn’t pass it up. I even checked out Johathan Haidt’s web page. Some good stuff there. You should go read it, especially what he has to say about religion. 😉

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