Moral Foundations Theory

Serious discussions on politics, religion, and the like.
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Re: Moral Foundations Theory

Post by JustinReilly »

MugaSofer wrote:Left-wing economics was dead right up until Sanders appeared, may still prove dead - but so is "right-wing" libertarianism. Corporate welfare rules.
Conservativism has only equaled Libertarianism very recently and very locally. There's nothing more conservative than using the government to support the current power structure.
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Re: Moral Foundations Theory

Post by Irminon »

First, a couple adjustments on the meanings:
- Proportionality is also fairness, justice, or reciprocity. You get what you earn. It does include retaliation, but it also means rewarding those who do good (and making the rewards proportional to the good done).
- Sanctity is more about separating the sacred from the profane. It often is related to feelings of disgust. This generally concerned with sexual or dietary behaviours (keeping the body pure) but also places/things (the sanctuary in a church).

It seems that things may have changed since I first came across his theory, but when I first looked into it, the theory stated that progressives valued care and fairness relatively more than the other values. Conservatives valued all pretty equally.

Haidt said in his TED talk on the matter that many progressives looked at the list and balked at the idea that the more "conservative" values (loyalty, authority, and sanctity) have anything to do with morality at all. To his credit (Haidt is a progressive) he explained that, from the conservative perspective, these values enable social order. The conservative perspective is that
a) this order is what enables our modern society, without which we would not be able to do so much good, and
b) order is a precarious state, and requires continual effort to overcome the entropic forces in human nature.
I think it's a good attempt to provide a narrative of the conservative beliefs in a way that progressives might better appreciate.

I think many progressives still have a hard time giving any credence to the conservative perspective, but I should also point out that Haidt's own research has also shown that progressives are decidedly worse at modelling the beliefs of their ideological opponents. (see ... se-minded/).

For those who question the reliability, I share your reservations. Many such attempts to explain politics in terms of psychology fail for one of two reasons (usually both):
a) the studies fail to replicate/generalize across different populations, or otherwise have poor methodology
b) they are a thinly veiled attempt on the part of the author to discredit a political philosophy they disagree with (see Adorno's The Authoritarian Personality for an excellent example of this)

To Haidt's credit, their research has replicated across the world, and I think he is genuinely trying to build a bridge between different political factions, rather than label his ideological opponents as mentally ill.

Finally, for those of you discussing whether we are going "right-ward" or "left-ward" in politics, a hint: the right-left divide did not begin 50 years ago. If you know you're history, you know which direction we're going overall.
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Re: Moral Foundations Theory

Post by Irminon »

I also recommend Arnold Kling's "Three Languages of Politics"(0)(1)

The essential idea is that each of the three major political tribes of our day (Progressivism, Libertarianism, and Conservatism) have their own language for talking about political issues (Oppressors vs. Oppressed, Coercion vs. Freedom, Barbarism vs. Civilization). Mostly it has to do with group signalling, but I think it also shapes to some degree what we perceive to be the causes of social ills.

My perspective is that all three perspectives can be useful for understanding a situation. Often there is usually a best one for a specific case, but no one framework is going to be sufficient for explaining all of the worlds problems. However, we all have our preferred language, and mine is conservative. Even more than that though, I think it is important that we recognize that there are different frameworks, and that we have an unbiased, non-judgemental framework for talking about them.

(0) ... B00CCGF81Q
(1) ... xes-model/
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Re: Moral Foundations Theory

Post by Razmoudah »

I'll have to read through that, see just how well I've been understanding the groups. Personally, I'm a Centrist, and every test regarding such things, that allows for Centrist-type results, typically lands me there. Some closer to dead center than others (of course with how right-wing the Democrats and Republicans are becoming this makes me come across as left-wing when I'm not), but usually well within the Centrist range. It'll be interesting to see if I even have a preferred language, and what it is, as mine may not be one of the three from his book.
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Re: Moral Foundations Theory

Post by Unanswered »

1.) Care
2.) Liberty
3.) Sanctity
4.) Loyalty
5.) Authority
6.) Proportionality

Proportionality comes last because revenge, while widely celebrated by society, is one of the most self-destructive expressions of anger I know. Authority barely tops it because while I know many people who have more authority than me who I see as fools, there are also a bunch of people in authority I respect. The others are mostly derived from my being a Centrist-ish Christian.
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Re: Moral Foundations Theory

Post by MugaSofer »

DanielH wrote:
MugaSofer wrote:Haidt found that "liberals" only care about the "care" foundation, while "conservatives" value all five. This is, obviously, nonsense, because the whole made-up field is bunk and Haidt is a fraud, but that's the model.
Models like this are usually made-up bunk, but this one seemed to have actual evidential support when I briefly looked at it. Can you give more detail about this?
Haidt's evidence is based on surveys - which is already a red flag, since surveys are known to show huge differences depending on how you phrase your questions.

In this case, it's pretty clear that they're politically biased, and you can easily re-jig the questions to produce the opposite conclusion.

Haidt's "sanctity" questions, for instance, emphasise things like disrespecting the Bible, sexual purity, flag-burning, and what have you; which by hypothesis are all based on "sanctity", but in reality are the very ideological differences he's supposedly explaining. Yes, conservatives are big on sexual purity and don't like disrespecting the flag, news at 11.

But if someone was to, say, burn a book to keep warm ... suddenly the "sacredness" of the book matters a lot more to liberals than conservatives.

Mysteriously, conservatives seem far more willing to disrespect the sacredness of the Koran, violate "safe spaces", and mock "pure" foods as hippy rabbit-food in favour of greasy burgers and steaks. In fact, liberals talk constantly about how we need to be more fair, while conservatives are knows for their dismissal of concerns the system could be rigged; conservatives constantly dismiss the authority of scientific institutions while liberals push them; liberals are often obsessive about "toxins", condoms, and environmental pollution; and so on.

But of course if you focus on "fairly" punishing criminals, avoiding disgusting/gross sexual practices, and religious and social authority, then you're not going to find them in liberals! Those are all things that liberalism defines itself as rejecting!
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Re: Moral Foundations Theory

Post by DanielH »

I thought you meant that MFT itself was bunk, not the conclusion about its relation to politics.
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Re: Moral Foundations Theory

Post by Razmoudah »

I think he's trying to use the rather obvious political slant in favor of conservatives in the surveys as his basis to prove the basic concept and theory wrong. Of course, how he's doing so is in fact proving the basic concept as sound, and the theory as being merely flawed, which allows room for going in and fixing what is wrong to create a system that has a reasonably objective result and lacks any appreciable political bias (it is nearly impossible to completely remove political bias, as that would require every single person involved with gathering the data and analyzing the results to lack political bias, and that is nearly impossible, especially in psychology). Of course, he's free to attempt to prove me wrong, but so far that's exactly what he is doing even if it isn't his intentions. Then again, that's a part of how most soft-sciences grow, by someone arguing against something because of its obvious (to them) flaws and someone else taking not of it and adapting what was there to create something that lacks those flaws.
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Re: Moral Foundations Theory

Post by Nepene »

In order of my relative importances.

1. Authority.
2. Proportionality.
3. Liberty.
4. Loyalty.
5. Sancity.
6. Care.

For 1, lots of people know stuff better than me, following their lead is generally the best way to live a happy and safe life. Identifying who is good to follow and who is bad is important.

For 2, avoiding excessive harm to others with proportional responses and avoiding injury is very important. I don't want to die, don't want others to repeatedly violate my rights.

For 3, overt bullying worsens life a lot and is a serious danger. People don't get in too bad a place without bullying. It's more important to adhere to correct authorities and minimize excessive responses.

For 4, Humans are social animals and group membership and loyalty is incredibly important in our moods and happiness, although you should stop group members bullying, over responding, or disobeying correct authority figures.

For 5, quick responses to minimize overt danger and harm are quite important, though less so than other more important measures to minimize harm and maximize social benefit.

For 6, it's good to have a broad goal of being nice, but it's generally very hard to predict this stuff, so obeying less vague directives is better.

Lots of people think being all caring is nice, but while that's a general goal for lots, it's not really a very useful goal. Max, for example, is ok sexually molesting people on camera and Tail's author avatars are ok with her physically harming the genitals of strangers- I think her morality would be better if she ranked sanctity and liberty above caring. If you rank caring highly that often just means you think you're right when you fuck others over and hurt them lots since it's super easy to justify anything.

In terms of its actual utility, I'd prefer some objective measure like the big five. ... ity_traits

Ideally for an actual evaluation you'd want the criteria to be bimodial (most people are caring or not caring) you'd want the traits to have some correlation with behavior (do more caring people rape people more or less) you'd want objective definitions for each trait that could distinguish a person, you'd want to make sure none of the criteria had any overlap (caring couldn't be correlated with loyalty say) and you'd want the values to be constant (so people aren't less caring just before lunch).

I'm not sure this is the case. People may have one value or the other in different situations and may be caring or not or liberty loving or not in different situations, I have no idea if it these traits have any actual correlation to behaviour, I have no idea if they stay the same from day to day.

Each situation is individual and unique and has a unique chain of events following it. You can behave fairly well with a lot of moral systems. As noted above though, having no real care for bullying people, causing proportionate harm, or respecting other's rights leads to lots of severe issues. If you have fairly simple moral systems then emotions and whims will fill the blanks often enough and you'll overlook harm and chances to do good. It's good to prep for novel situations.

“Insufficient facts always invite danger.” As Spock said.

Morals can be changed of course, they're not innate personality traits like the big five.

You could separate people into six groups, but these six groups having no real statistical validity means that they'd probably all be fairly equal and similar.

Notably with your bro Sanders, morals aren't really what you need to evaluate him, you need a factual record of his performance and voting record and history compared to other candidates, and good statistical models to see what actual effect policies like his would have on populations you care about.
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Re: Moral Foundations Theory

Post by Razmoudah »

And further reinforcing my point that you can't have a singular category for a particular answer/reasoning is that with the six reasons you gave for how you ranked them each one has at least two, some three, areas that they apply to, not just one.
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