Friday, August 23, 2013

ASET book club - Sept. 12

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion Topics for Discussion

Hi guys:

These are just some suggestions to jump start our discussion on Sept. 12. As always the discussion will emerge, in ways that none of us can anticipate.

Why do you think Haidt selects Plato, Hume and Jefferson as the 3 exemplars of morality/philosophy? Do you think this selection "works" to support his thesis or, like me, do you wonder about the selection?

How well does Haidt make the case that "morality" is a result of nature and make the opposing case that it is the result of nurture. What do you think Hume would make of the analysis in the book?

What does the author mean by the "rider" and the "elephant" that reside within each person? What are the roles of each in the development of a person's righteous mind?

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. What is your view of this model and do you find it helpful in understanding the divide between "liberals" and "conservatives"?

Thinking of the model above, how are they ranked in your personal moral code?

Haidt describes individual versus group morality? (see the previous question) What is the importance and purpose of each? Late the book, Haidt argues: Conservatives can fully appreciate the entire spectrum of human morality, while liberals cannot. How well does Haidt make this argument, do you think he is serious or does he seem to have another motive in making this assertion? If he is serious, do you agree?

Check out Politics, Odors and Soap by Nicholas Kristof, over at the New York Times. He writes a very enthusiastic little review of yet another book on the intersection of cognition and politics. No big surprise, it's by Jonathan Haidt, who's doing the pioneering research into how the brains of liberals and conservatives are wired in fundamentally different ways. Oh, also see the review in the Wall St. Journal, Conflicting Moralities. The longer, "official" Ney York Times review is at Why Won’t They Listen?, and explores the book in more detail.

And an excellent essay in the New York Times by the author himself: Forget the Money, Follow the Sacredness.

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