liberalism. The question was, and is, an interesting one. And it led me back to a field of study I first encountered in
university and have run across from time to time since then. Specifically I am referring to the ideas of Jonathan Haidt.
He proposed that a lot of the anger generated between liberals and conservatives is because both groups assume that
there is only one scale for morality by which people use to guide their actions. Both liberals and conservatives jointly
assume that their disagreement stems from the other side being less moral than themselves. Jonathan Haidt argues
instead that there are in fact at least five scales by which moral action is calculated. As the above article states actions can
fall under 5 separate 'moral impulses':
Harm/care: It is wrong to hurt people; it is good to relieve suffering.
Fairness/reciprocity: Justice and fairness are good; people have certain rights that need
to be upheld in social interactions.
In-group loyalty: People should be true to their group and be wary of threats from the
outside. Allegiance, loyalty, and patriotism are virtues; betrayal is bad.
Authority/respect: People should respect social hierarchy; social order is necessary for
Purity/sanctity: The body and certain aspects of life are sacred. Cleanliness and health,
as well as their derivatives of chastity and piety, are all good. Pollution, contamination,
and the associated character traits of lust and greed are all bad.
equally. As a result liberals tend to have a certain 'colour blindness' when it comes to understanding conservative views
leading them to think conservatives just don't care. Likewise, since conservatives don't value the first two impulses nearly
as highly as liberals their actions appear naive or even foolish. Meanwhile, the lack of respect for the latter three moral
impulses can lead conservatives to view liberals as immoral. A few years ago I was interviewed by a university student
named David Sumantry about the Pirate Party of Canada and how its beliefs aligned with these different moral impulses.
I also had my own survey done at the time.
different views doesn't mean you will necessarily be any less partisan about it. Not with the left and the right shrilly
decrying their opponents. But perhaps the next time you hear someone talking about an issue you could take a second
to figure out what moral impulse they're playing at. I'm willing to bet the discussion will be less rancorous if nothing else.