I’m still intrigued by Moral Foundations Theory and, as predicted, there’s a fair bit of commenting going on in the blogosphere, mainly in terms of reviewing The Righteous Mind, Haidt’s book discussing the theory. I haven’t absorbed all of the comments yet, but two points made by reviewers strike me as important.
- The value of Moral Foundations Theory is that it should force us to to view opposing views more seriously. Conservatives shouldn’t demonize liberals and vice-versa. Haidt himself, an avowed liberal, was apparently motivated upon learning that a conservative outlook was thoughtful and intended to improve people’s lives: it was just built on a different mix of moral foundations.
- There is some legitimate complaint about the specific methodology Haidt used to evaluate political outlooks in terms of moral foundations. Liberals, in particular, may have taken a bad rap by being classified as having low regard for sanctity. The methodological complaint is that, with a different set of questions, answers would have been different. Liberals may have a higher regard for sanctity than Haidt noted, but might apply the sanctity in a different domain such as environmentalism.
I’m still reading and studying, but I like where this is headed.