A friend sent an interesting article from AlterNet this afternoon concerning the moral reasoning of liberals and conservatives. According to this article, Jonathan Haidt has come up with five foundational moral impulses:
1. Harm/care. It's wrong to hurt people; it's good to relieve suffering.
2. Fairness/reciprocity. Justice and fairness are good. People have certain rights that need to be upheld in social interactions.
3. In-group loyalty. People should be true to their group and be wary of threats from the outside. Allegiance, loyalty are virtues. Betrayal is bad.
4. Authority/respect. People should respect social hierarchy. Social order is necessary for human life.
5. Purity/sanctity. The body and certain aspects of life are sacred. Cleanliness and health, as well as their derivatives of chastity and piety, are all good. Pollution, contamination and the associated character traits of lust and greed are all bad.
Liberals feels strongly about the first two--preventing harm and ensuring fairness--but often feel little, or even negatively, about the other three. Conservatives generally rank loyalty, authority, and purity over harm prevention and fairness (which they do acknowledge are important, but not as important, in their view.)
That pretty much squares with me, a die-hard liberal. I'm always supporting stands that relieve suffering, that see everyone as valuable with an inherent dignity, that support basic fairness (I often bitterly rail against ridiculously high corporate executive salaries, for instance, and would support a law limiting those kinds of salaries).
My faith helps me see some things are sacred, though (#5).
Yes, authority is necessary (#4)--without some order life would be unbearable. But the regular questioning of authority also seems like a pretty good idea to me.
And loyalty? Well yes, but blind loyalty is such a problem that I tend to hold #3 rather lightly.
What about you?