Moral points of view

Here’s an interesting graph showing how liberals (blue), conservatives (red), and one self-described libertarian (green) test on a survey of “moral foundations”:

Basically, liberals emphasize “harm” and “fairness” and don’t care so much about “loyalty,” “authority” or “purity,” while conservatives give more equal weight to all five dimensions. (The libertarian can speak for himself.)

All of which makes a great deal of sense. Liberals adopt the standpoint of a technocratic administrator who wants to run the world in a way that brings results that make simple sense to him. He views the people in his custody as an aggregate of individuals without personal responsibility or connections to each other that need be taken seriously. All that matters is that the individuals for whom he is responsible be protected from harm and treated equally by the system as a whole.

Conservatives in contrast view themselves as participants in a human world that surrounds and transcends them. There’s no overall system responsible for everything. Accordingly, they take the particular connections through which life gets carried on very seriously (loyalty and authority), and make sense of those connections by referring them to conceptions of what things are and should be (purity).

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