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Re: Ch. 3: Elephants Rule
The experiment by Todorov puzzled me. From a single photograph of each candidate running for the same office, subjects judged which seemed more competent. This snap judgment turned out to be fairly predictive of who actually won the election, meaning that the voters reflected the same judgment. Presumably, they had more opportunity to check out the candidates, but still the conclusion is that they often followed along with the subjects who gave the matter a second's "thought." I wonder if the experiment was replicated.
We're proud of our ability to reason, partly because it seems to confirm our sense that we have free will to decide. So we might resist what Haidt is telling us--that in cases of judging and assessing other people we mostly employ intuitions, which are like sub-emotions that go off automatically. Then, if asked or pressed, we'll give our reasons. Reasons have more social status than emotions. In a few places, Haidt says that we have no cause to apologize for our intuition-based moral thinking. Our elephant is intelligent. And without our elephant setting an initial course for us, our reason might be proved a more faulty instrument. That's the lesson from studies of psychopathy and cases of damage to a certain area of the brain. I also think of leaders trying to change people's intuitions, or rather get them to override them for the sake of a reasoned higher cause. It's necessary to be ruthless ("work the dark side," as Cheney said), because sometimes you need to fight harm with harm.
I can see the truth in the research Haidt discusses about the emotional quality of seemingly very neutral things. We do attach emotional valence to many of our mundane encounters. This happens every time I drive down my street (more so than when I walk, interestingly). We're not really ambivalent very often, perhaps.
What did you think about Haidt's skewering of deontology?
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