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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Understanding America’s Moral Divides

Julie Beck
The Atlantic
Originally published December 14, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

Part of why it’s easy for anyone to see themselves, or the groups they belong to, as super moral is because morality itself is a vague concept. “You can have one person, for instance, who cares very deeply for their friends and family and would go to the ends of the earth for these people,” Tappin says. “And yet they don’t, say, give a dime to foreign charity. And then you’ve got another person who spends their entire life donating money overseas, yet in their interpersonal life, perhaps they don’t treat their family members very well. In those cases, how do you compare who’s more moral? It seems quite impossible to judge and it’s just at the mercy of people’s preferences.”


Haidt’s work identifies six different moral metrics—liberty, fairness, loyalty, authority, care, and purity. Different groups and cultures prefer to emphasize these domains to different degrees. For example, people in Eastern countries tend to emphasize purity and loyalty more than people in Western countries. People who live in countries where there has historically been higher prevalence of disease also place a higher value on purity, as well as loyalty and authority. In the United States, liberals tend to focus mostly on care, fairness, and liberty, while conservatives generally emphasize all six domains. Other research shows that people rate the moral values a group holds as the most important characteristic affecting whether they’re proud to be a member of the group, or more likely to distance themselves from it.

The article is here.
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