The moral roots of liberals and conservatives … socialists and capitalists

Jonathan Haidt: The moral roots of liberals and conservatives (TED Video)

“If you take the greatest insights from Asian philosophies and religions and combine them with the latest research on moral psychology, I think you come to these conclusions:

  • Our Righteous Minds were “designed” to …
    • unite us into teams,
    • divide us against other teams, and
    • blind us to the truth

Haidt posits the theory that “stories” help “un-blind” us from the truth and will lead to better outcomes.   Haidt’s theory is supported by the works of W. Edwards Deming – one of the foremost authorities on quality management who concluded that everyone benefits through optimization, e.g., that actions should result in outcomes where everyone gains or at least, are not any worse off in the long-term.

Haidt and Deming’s philosophies are supported by the “stakeholder” theory which is discussed in Haidt’s talk about the “Three Stories of Capitalism.

The five foundations (channels) of morality – The Moral Mind:

  1. Care/Harm
  2. Fairness/Reciprocity
  3. Ingroup/Loyalty
  4. Authority/Respect
  5. Purity/Sanctity

Liberals use two channels (1&2), conservatives five.

  • Per Haidt,  “Self-described “progressives” he notes places a high value on care/harm and fairness and largely disregard the rest. Self-described “conservatives” by contrast, value all five — although they define both care/harm and fairness in different ways. The upshot of this difference Haidt suggests is that conservatives are generally good with empathizing with the political opinions of their adversaries where progressive, on average, are not.”
  • ” … if you believe that the priorities of the progressives are valuable in and of themselves but they do not represent the who story, then you will likely consider the progressive world view to be well-intentioned but far too narrow.
  • “But  if,  like the progressive in Haidt’s tests, you consider three of the five of the variables that conservatives hold dear to be orally worthless, you will consider your opponents to be charlatans who spurn what really matters in favor os useless ideals such as tradition and upright behavior.”
  • Reference: Conservatarian Manifesto, by Charles C.W. Cooke , pg. 92.)

A sixth channel is Liberty which is associated with Libertarians.  Paper: Understanding Libertarian Morality.  YouTube Presentation

  • Libertarians value liberty more, and most other moral values less, than liberals or conservatives.
  • Libertarians rely upon reason more – and less on emotion  – than either liberals or conservatives.
  • Libertarians are more individualist, less connected to other people than liberals or conservatives

Comparison – Libertarian and Conservative:  Libertarians and conservatives are a very odd couple. Very different personalities. United by a shared commitment to economic liberty; opposition to government enforcement of “positive liberty” via the welfare state.

 Jonathan Haidt: Three Stories About Capitalism (TED Video)

Johnathon Haidt is a social psychologist that works to bridge the gap between liberals, conservatives, socialists, and capitalists. In his talk – “Three Stories About Capitalism ” he reinforces how stories drive the narrative and concludes his talk by reinforcing the need for cooperative competition through the application of the “stakeholder” theory as opposed to the “shareholder” theory.

My career background is in the area of quality management. Quality Mangement supports the shareholder theory that is backed up by data, academic, and scientific studies.  If you want to read the stories of application success, “google” the winners of the Malcolm Baldrige Award.

Brown County IN “Stories”  The intent of including these descriptions of future scenarios is to reinforce the relevance of the perspectives shared by a sample of community  “stakeholders.”

  • Brown County Matters – Facebook Posts “If you were to describe what you think the county will be like in 10 years, what would you say?   
  • HCI Meeting Notes August 13 – Includes 10-year projections on the future possibilities — includes the best case and worst case.  Future reality will fall somewhere in-between.  A needed step is to identify the data that will be used to assess and monitor the trends.
Book and Interview: The Righteous Mind’: Why Liberals and Conservatives Can’t Get Along, Jonathon Haidt. (TED Video)

When he started his book, he considered himself as a  “partisan liberal.”   The process of writing the book led to a new perspective that both liberals and conservatives can be right.

  • Number one priority? Political reform. (see
  • Educationally:  “… kill all the math classes beyond Algebra” – not useful and not helpful and replace with civics – political ideology and history;  replace calculus with basic statistics, Universities should be places of debate. People are concerned with their reputation that may create conditions that lead to more ethical behavior;
  • Emotions Rule.  Emotions (stories) influence reasoning as opposed to reasoning (the facts) influencing emotions.

My article and its relevance to national policy: Working with idiots and getting better results – Published at

  • “Haidt’s research indicates that moral responses are instinctual—human beings are born preloaded with basic moral values. He believes that political attitudes are an extension of our moral reasoning, which accounts for much of the vitriol that surrounds liberal and conservative ideology.
  • According to Haidt, an individual’s beliefs and actions are influenced through a filter of values that include caring, fairness, loyalty, authority, sanctity, and liberty. These values provide a foundation that is needed for a society to function. He believes that liberals focus more on caring and fairness and undervalue the importance of loyalty, authority, sanctity, and liberty. Conservatives also value caring and fairness, but not at the exclusion of loyalty, authority, sanctity, and liberty.”


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