Conservatives and Liberals

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  • #1
Pythagorean
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Main Question or Discussion Point

A good interview of Jon Haidt by Bill Moyers that goes into the history of the ideological separation, moral philosophy, and destruction of polarization. Haidt's view is that the demonizing that takes place between political parties so much more frequently now is causing the nation to suffer and suggests that we sit together to work things out.

http://billmoyers.com/episode/how-do-conservatives-and-liberals-see-the-world/

I'm curious what conservatives think of Haidt's characterization? I think he's pretty spot on, but under the layers it's possibly from one liberal to another, so I'd like to relieve myself of any plausible confirmation bias.

I think one of the more interesting, maybe fundamental ideas to come out of Haidt's interviews is "our intuitions come before our reasoning and our reasoning is usually a post-hoc justification for those intuitions. As a result, humans do a horrible job at understanding those with whom they disagree."

Here's another interview I found:

http://www.christianpost.com/news/interview-jonathan-haidt-on-social-conservatives-new-atheists-and-civility-in-politics-74984/
 
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  • #2
BobG
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I think Haidt has some pretty accurate views about human nature in general and, naturally, human nature is going to have a large effect on politics.

I liked this part and it flows directly from your quote:

BILL MOYERS: “Anyone who values truth should stop worshiping reason.”

JONATHAN HAIDT: The idea of sacredness, the idea of sacralizing something. What I see as an academic, and as a philosophy major as an undergrad, is there are a lot of people in the academic world that sac- they think, oh, you know, no sacred cows. We shouldn't sacralize anything.

But they sacralize reason itself, as though reason is this noble attribute, reason is our highest nature. And if we could just reason, we will solve our problems. All right, that sounds good on paper. But given all the stuff I just told you about what psychologists have discovered about reason, reasoning is not good at finding the truth. Conscious verbal reasoning is really good at confirming.
A big part of any human personality is plain and simple irrational and failing to accept that some of your actions and beliefs are taken solely because they make you more you can cause a person a lot of grief.

This part is interesting in light of the current campaign:

Politics is really religion. Politics is about sacredness. Politics is about offering a vision that will bind the nation together to pursue greatness. And Republicans since Ronald Reagan have been really good at that......

.... I think the Democrats need to be developing a credible argument about fairness, capitalism, American history. They need to be developing this master narrative so that when they then have an argument on a particular issue, it'll resonate with people. And they're not doing that. But the Republicans have.
This year, things might get flipped. Just from the conventions, I think Obama/Biden are set to do a lot better job at this than Romney. One, because they're very good at it. Second, Romney doesn't quite fit in today's Republican Party. There's too much about his past that violates "sacred" issues for him to truly develop that "master narrative".

Republicans will be appealing to reason and facts and Democrats will be trying to offer a moral argument about fairness, etc that generates a vision for the future.
 
  • #3
Pythagorean
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Yeah, I think he specifies a little later that it's in-group and solo reasoning that is bad. You really need to reach across the table and reason as a group (conservatives and liberals together) to eliminate as much bias as you can. But then you have to do so gently, without demonizing... or everybody just recedes back into their comfortable reasoning domain and nothing's been accomplished.

BILL MOYERS: So what does, what did the Hebrew prophet mean when he said, "Come now, and let us reason together." Are you saying we can't get at the truth that way?

JONATHAN HAIDT: No. That actually is very wise. Because what I'm saying here is that individual reasoning is post-hoc, and justificatory. Individual reasoning is not reliable because of the confirmation bias. The only cure for the confirmation bias is other people.

So, if you bring people together who disagree, and they have a sense of friendship, family, having something in common, having an institution to preserve, they can challenge each other's reason. And this is the way the scientific world is supposed to work.

And this is the way it does work in almost every part of it. You know, I've got my theory, and I'm really good at justifying it. But fortunately there's peer review, and there's lots of people are really good at undercutting it. And saying, "Well, what about this phenomenon? You didn't account for that."

And we worked together even if we don't want to, we end up being forced to work together, challenging each other's confirmation biases, and truth emerges. And this is a place where actually I think the Christians have it right, because they're always talking about how flawed we are. They're encouraging us to be more modest.

And from my reading, these apostles of reason nowadays, they're anything but modest. And they think that individuals can reason well. Wisdom comes out of a group of people well-constituted who have some faith or trust in each other. That's what our political institutions used to do, but they don't do anymore.
 

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