Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Another view of The Righteous Mind

The Righteous Mind asks us all to get along. The problem is that the heat of moral discourse makes that less likely. Very soon politics becomes about tribal win or lose rather than pluralistic respect. Haidt’s moral foundations theory gives us a deeper understanding of the way we function as (in part) moral animals. But shouldn’t practical experience alert us to the all too regular dysfunction of overtly moral politics? Rather than forcing us to consider how we can work together, it is more often a case of one group imposing its will on another. A co-operative politics requires rather less temperature.

If you want to understand the way the moral mind works then read this book. If enough people do we may find some way of having moral conversations that don’t descend into hatred and abuse. Until then, let’s not always reach for morality to bond as a society. It is generally counter-productive. Jonathan Haidt closes his book with the line: “We’re all stuck here for a while, so let’s try to work it out.” I agree. It beats “get over it” anyway.

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