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Ch. 5: Beyond WEIRD Morality 
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Post Re: Ch. 5: Beyond WEIRD Morality
DWill wrote:
I think I mentioned at the start that if children independently apply reason to moral judgments about harm and fairness, as Haidt says they do, then there is justification for making the Care and Fairness foundations the ones that aren't constructed by culture. They are primary, in other words. We don't then need to censure our elephants when we feel our righteous minds rolling into action when confronting something like honor killing, dismemberment for crimes, FGM, and others.

Yes, I have noticed a critical process in your posts as well as others, from the beginning of this series. The apparent original choice to reference a critical review helps with that. The book is so much of a landmark that going over it again should indicate an interest in re-thinking the insights and presentation, and I have been glad to have the observations that others bring. I agree that harm and fairness have advantages in terms of innate perceptions that this is what moral judgment "means", so that the WEIRD analysis of what is "really going on" with moral perception tends to reinforce our most basic sense of how morality works.
DWill wrote:
It does happen at some point to all cultures that despite our reasoned sense that harm and cheating are wrong, cultures still institutionalize violations of Care and Fairness (I'll skip the reasons for this). They basically brainwash everyone that these violations are necessary or, amazingly, even moral. Whether we are on the outside of such a situation looking in, or waking up to a situation in our midst (e.g., racial discrimination), it is debilitating to raise relativistic cautions.
Yes, I think that is really insightful. Relativistic cautions can be helpful for broadening the scope of our ability to communicate across cultural boundaries, which I think is becoming a more obvious problem with global warming and concern over immigration becoming salient issues of divisiveness.

I wouldn't use "brainwash" myself, since FGM and other processes using amoral means for supposedly moral ends are inevitably combining many strands of social moralism and children (or adolescents) pull together a picture of how those strands fit together, rather than mindlessly adopting whatever society tells them must be true.

DWill wrote:
For me, it's not that Haidt denies any of this; it's just that he is not interested in moral self-help for the individual. That fact is shown by the swerve to politics in Chapter 4. But you could also say that, at least to this point, he almost denigrates moral judgment entirely. He says we are all really Glaucons, out only for ourselves, a ruling that ignores our considerable conflicts between self-interest and what we know to be right.

I will give this some thought. I took it that he was downplaying the role of moral reflection because he wants to highlight the value of his "raw data" approach, which *is* useful in my opinion. But there may be more to it, and a subtler agenda, at work.

DWill wrote:
It's not only our valuing reputation that keeps us from being bad, cheating people. He puts down Kant's insistence on invariably following principle as a symptom of Asperger's syndrome, as though Kant's belief shows him lacking insight into the emotions that make exceptions to principle inevitable in real life.
It's a devilishly complex topic, which has vexed every culture since culture manifested itself in writing, and probably before that as well. But putting Kant's inflexible analysis into a category of social impairment is certainly a drastic step that needs much more thought than Haidt is inclined to bring to such philosophical questions. In Christianity we have a framework for this question, the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, which is almost koan-like in its raising a question without being able to state a clear answer. Do we endorse Righteousness (which, in the original Hebrew I am told was the same word as Justice) or Penitent Self-Criticism? Which raises the question whether Haidt is dismissing the question with an appeal to pragmatic acceptance of people's self-duplicity. To a Christian this is putting the cart of forgiveness ahead of the horse of remorse.

DWill wrote:
I'd have to allow for another possibility, which is that Haidt only wants to demonstrate, through science, that people do moralize other aspects of life besides Care and Fairness. He thinks that our WEIRD worldview blinds us to that fact, and that we would not dismiss other cultural values as mere social conventions if we expanded our insight. And we'd understand why so many people look to politicians who reinforce other moral foundations like Authority and Sanctity. Such appeals aren't merely pandering.
Yes, this is the key to why we should read the book and how we should integrate it with other considerations, in my view. I think you have said it well.



Wed Feb 19, 2020 10:47 am
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