Monday, October 01, 2012

Liberals do not understand conservatism

Psychology professor John T. Jost has a review (free copy here) of Jonathan Haidt's Moral Foundations Theory in AAAS Science magazine. They disagree because they have different theories about what makes conservatives and liberals different. Haidt has studies showing that conservatives and liberal have different values. Jost says conservatives are just stupid.

That is the magazine that brags:
Science Magazine: The world's leading journal of original scientific research, global news, and commentary.
The magazine only permits liberal commentary.

Haidt writes:
I began by summarizing the standard explanations that psychologists had offered for decades: Conservatives are conservative because they were raised by overly strict parents, or because they are inordinately afraid of change, novelty, and complexity, or because they suffer from existential fears and therefore cling to a simple worldview with no shades of gray. These approaches all had one feature in common: they used psychology to explain away conservatism. They made it unnecessary for liberals to take conservative ideas seriously because these ideas are caused by bad childhoods or ugly personality traits. I suggested a very different approach: start by assuming that conservatives are just as sincere as liberals, and then use Moral Foundations Theory to understand the moral matrices of both sides. (pp. 166-167)
Jost agrees with those psychologists who try to explain away conservatism as some sort of mental inferiority.

Jost writes:
Haidt argues that the liberal moral code is deficient, because it is not based on all 5 (or 6) of his “moral foundations.” The liberal, Haidt maintains, is like the idiot restaurateur who thought he could make a complete cuisine out of just one taste, however sweet. This illustrates the biggest flaw in Haidt’s book, ... Does it really make sense, philosophically or psychologically or politically, to even try to keep score, let alone to assert that “more is better” when it comes to moral judgment?
Jost misquotes Haidt. Haidt does not say that “more is better”, or argue that any moral values are better than any other. His point is that liberals like Jost will never understand conservatism unless they recognize the moral foundations.

Jost just confirms what Haidt says.

No comments: