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Conservatives, Liberals, and the Moral Mind

Carl Klutzke posted this TED talk by Jonathan Haidt on his blog and I watched, thought it was kind of interesting, then found myself thinking about it constantly for the next 3 days. So I thought I'd share it with you. What do you think?


It's interesting, and he makes some good points, however, I think he's wrong when, at the end, he talks about "stepping out of the battle between good and evil" (may not be exact quote), and that our moral sensibilities are pretty much set up, not just to help us build (and protect) societies, but also to "blind us to the truth."

First, there is no way to step out of the battle bet good and evil, because just by doing so--by, say, refusing to fight evil, you automatically choose it. I think he may be erring in what he is thinking of as "evil." We can get sidetracked on lots of issues--or demonize people on the other side of us, but never be talking about "good" and "evil". Hate to say it, but McCain/Obama was not a choice bet good or evil--neither was Bush/Gore or Bush/Kerry.

And just what "truth" are our moral sensibilities blinding us to? Because in other situations, good and evil exist, and we should want to preserve the good and defend agst the evil. There is nothing wrong with that, and sometimes I think our society is getting to the point where it is considered a horrible thing to point out that a particular action is immoral--that somehow, pointing out a sin has become the only sin left. This is ludicrous, and does not bode well.

But if the dialogue is not between good and evil, but just between novelty and neophobia, then that's different, and will help us grow and improve.

But then again.... The "team-building"/"keeping out others" bit got me thinking. Some guys on a church of Christ forum have been talking about "one world govt," which I have never worried about, myself, but seems to get some people worked up. For one, if the church really did spread the way God would wish it, and we were all one, well, then....? But also, as I see it, people can't get along on the family level, the national level, or the international level for long periods of time, so I really can't see this actually happening. And maybe we really are created by God to keep this from happening (like the tower of Babel). In the church of Christ, we believe that local congregations are to be autonomous, with no larger governing body, like a synod, conference, diocese, etc. This helps keep doctrinal issues and goofy personal problems from spreading to the degree that they do in other churches. If someone goes off the deep end, their ideas may spread into other conregations, and cause problems, but it won't bother everyone, and some groups may never even know about it. So some distance and autonomy on an international level is probably a good thing.

Oh, and
--Edmund Burke was much more eloquent than "revolution guy."

I was much more taken with his opening remarks and the 5-part moral framework he presented as well as his studies on the perspectives liberals/conservatives share re: those 5 moral attributes. I was less taken by his conclusions. I've got to consider them more before I'm willing to respond but my first impression is that while each proposition sounds good, where they end up is questionable.
His speech reminds me of an article I read some time ago on morality and the moral imagination comparing liberals & conservatives--I think I gave some of you a copy of that essay.

Thanks, Lawrence, for forwarding this. Appreciate it. Hope all is well with you and you all!

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