[ExI] META: Overposting (psychology of morals)
anders at aleph.se
Sun Feb 27 12:06:46 UTC 2011
Giulio Prisco wrote:
> I don't see why we should refrain from discussing important things.
> I am very interested in the libertarian trend, but the problem is that
> it always degenerates into a hormone-driven fight between
> fundamentalist libertarians and fundamentalist anti-libertarians. I
> wonder why it is like that.
I think it can be explained by Jonathan Haidt's moral foundations theory
and Phil Tetlock's sacred values theory. Basically, libertarians and
anti-libertarians step on each other's sacred values.
According to Haidt, morality across cultures tend to be based on five
fundamental values that are given different weight between different
cultures and individuals:
1. Care for others, protecting them from harm.
2. Fairness, Justice, treating others equally.
3. Loyalty to your group, family, nation.
4. Respect for tradition and legitimate authority.
5. Purity, avoiding disgusting things, foods, actions.
Liberals (american sense) value care and fairness higher than the
others, while american conservatives value all five at the same time.
Tetlock observed that certain things are "sacred" values to people, and
that trading them for a "secular" value triggers strong emotional
reactions - these tradeoffs are taboo: you are not supposed to even
*think* about how much money a human life is worth (if you seriously do,
then you are seen as a bad person) and people forced into tradeoffs
often do interesting self-purification actions afterwards like washing
hands or giving more to charity.
In political discussions a lot of heat is generated when one side
doesn't feel anything for something sacred to the other side and
accidentally threatens it.
What is sacred to libertarians? I think freedom is an obvious sacred
value, which might go into the fairness foundation. But beyond that I
don't think libertarians (by being libertarians) have that many strong
sacred values - *just like transhumanists*. We are all happy to question
the human condition and all accepted morals in profound ways. This is
borne out in experiments. Libertarians are less unwilling to *refuse*
making sacred tradeoffs for money than other groups, and find the five
foundations less sacred altogether.
This has consequences for discussing politics. Conservatives get enraged
by liberals trading purity or respect for fairness. But both get riled
up by libertarians trading almost anything for freedom. And libertarians
get upset by how readily everybody else trades their sacred value for
mere care, purity or other less important things.
So that is my general explanation why libertarians (and transhumanists!)
generally tend to end up in hot discussions.
Future of Humanity Institute
James Martin 21st Century School
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