Critical review of Haidt
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Author:  Dexter [ Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Critical review of Haidt

I was looking for some critical reviews, I thought this one was pretty good: ... athan.html

He addresses some of the points we have discussed already. I thought this was a good point, responding to Haidt's argument that "liberals" have too narrow a view of morality (the reviewer wants to defend liberalism and reason):

"the need to consider diverse beliefs—the pluralism that Haidt extolls—is precisely the impetus behind the efforts ethicists make to pare down the list of moral considerations."

He also reminded me that Kahneman's book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, would be a good follow-up read, that was on my list.

Kahneman uses the metaphor of two systems to explain the workings of the mind. System 1, intuition, does most of the work most of the time. System 2 takes a lot more effort to engage and can never manage to operate independently of intuition.

Author:  scotchbooks [ Mon Jul 16, 2012 11:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Critical review of Haidt

This review is well done and should be useful in this discussion. It also highlights some of the problems Haidt faces in trying to bring together the liberal and conservative sides in the division that is his book's primary focus. The reviewer seems to feel Haidt, a self confessed liberal, is disingenuous when he argues for the merits of conservative moral foundation values at the expense of liberal values. This may be correct but illustrates that no solution will be found by threatening either side.

My position is that both sides are human and are, therefore, subject to the same irrational reasoning flaws. We must both acknowledge doubt in regard to the certainty of our beliefs and reframe the discussion to focus upon finding a solution to the problems that threaten all of us.

Author:  DWill [ Tue Jul 17, 2012 6:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Critical review of Haidt

I thought the review was well done, even though unlike both of you, I've only read the first section and so can't comment on how Haidt translates his insights into politics. The reviewer (whose name I couldn't find) tells us that later in the book Haidt comes out as pro-intuition to an extent and critical of liberals who refuse to honor intuitions (while being forced by human nature to respond to them nevertheless). The flavor I get from the first part is that he's describing what is, not that he's saying we should try to act more on our intuitions. Malcolm Gladwell does that in much of his popular book Blink. But clearly Haidt wants to recognize the validity of the conservative mindset, so he needs to find a way to favor those who don't try to resist their intuitions as much as he says liberals try to.

A sentence the reviewer quoted from the end of part one points out to me one problem with Haidt's presentation. "Anyone who values truth should stop worshipping reason." The very next sentence is not quoted but adds a twist: "We all need to take a cold hard look at the evidence and see reasoning for what it is." For one thing, the word "worshipping" is a bit inflammatory. JH again is digging at the New Atheists, who he says trash worship but in fact are worshipping their own idol, reason. I might believe this if he backed it up with quotations from any of those writers, who clearly do value reason, but worshipping is quite another matter and isn't a word that does Haidt's argument much credit. For another thing, in the next sentence, JH pulls a shift on us by saying that "reasoning" is the problem, a category that simply means what people offer up as justifications for their beliefs, whether sound or not. Haidt has already told us that reasoning evolved in order to give us a tool to protect our social standing and reputation, not as a way of finding the truth. Often, at least when it's morality or politics we're talking about, that rings true and is supported by research. But isn't reasoning used a great deal for non-suspect purposes? And unless Haidt is saying there is no truth and we shouldn't bother with it, don't we find truth through reason? We might also "experience" truth in a more intuitive manner; I think we do. It's not one or the other.

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