Moral Foundations Theory

Serious discussions on politics, religion, and the like.

Re: Moral Foundations Theory

Postby Nepene » Mon May 02, 2016 10:00 am

Razmoudah wrote:And further reinforcing my point that you can't have a singular category for a particular answer/reasoning is that with the six reasons you gave for how you ranked them each one has at least two, some three, areas that they apply to, not just one.


Yeah. As I mentioned, overlap. A lot of the morals overlap in such a way that they're not really easy to distinguish. Perhaps I value authority because it minimizes disproportionate and unfair violence, because authorities stop bullying, because they protect essential liberties, because they make for a more caring society, because they make loyalty easier, because they maintain the sanctity of key values. You could rephrase any of the moral values in terms of the others.

One notable observation a lot of psychologists have made about people is that we often explain our behaviour after when we really did it for emotional or whimsical reasons. So it's very easy to fit your behaviour into some category or another- yeah totally, I did this thing because it satisfied my loyalty values, when really you did it because of boredom or horniness or hunger or whatever. Morality is very easy to make justifications for.
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Re: Moral Foundations Theory

Postby JustinReilly » Mon May 02, 2016 2:11 pm

Nepene wrote:Perhaps I value authority because it minimizes disproportionate and unfair violence, because authorities stop bullying, because they protect essential liberties, because they make for a more caring society, because they make loyalty easier, because they maintain the sanctity of key values. You could rephrase any of the moral values in terms of the others.

See, I tend to distrust authority because it tends to be the source of all those things you claim it prevents. If we were to unearth a hidden trove of Philosopher-Kings I'd be all for it. But in reality I see that those most adept at acquiring authority are those I'd least trust to wield it.
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Re: Moral Foundations Theory

Postby DanielH » Mon May 02, 2016 3:15 pm

Authorities both cause and prevent those things, to some extent. We could argue all day about which they did more, but the truth is it would be difficult-to-impossible to actually get good data. I think authority is valuable in the cases where it prevents more harm than it causes, but is not an end in itself.

All of the things in this list seem like potentially useful tools in practice (even proportionality-as-described, to some extent), but only care seems to be a good end in itself. Depending on how you define care, liberty might also be a good end, but I would think that all the important parts of liberty overlap with care.
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Re: Moral Foundations Theory

Postby Nepene » Mon May 02, 2016 5:55 pm

JustinReilly wrote:
Nepene wrote:Perhaps I value authority because it minimizes disproportionate and unfair violence, because authorities stop bullying, because they protect essential liberties, because they make for a more caring society, because they make loyalty easier, because they maintain the sanctity of key values. You could rephrase any of the moral values in terms of the others.

See, I tend to distrust authority because it tends to be the source of all those things you claim it prevents. If we were to unearth a hidden trove of Philosopher-Kings I'd be all for it. But in reality I see that those most adept at acquiring authority are those I'd least trust to wield it.


You can make the same case for any of the moral values.

Proportionality. Simply an excuse for people to hurt others based on whimsical ideas. The source of most cruelty in the world. If we were to unearth a hidden trove of true justice seekers I'd be all for it. But in reality, I see that those most adept at seeking fairness are those I'd least true to be fair.

Care. Paternalistic nonsense that people use to overvalue their friends and undervalue their enemies. The source of all the things people claim it prevents. People help out their friends and family, who have more mental weight in their minds, and hurt the downtrodden and weaker and bully them into submission. The more caring a person is, the more cruel they are. If we were to unearth a hidden trove of true altruists I'd be all for it. But in reality, those who care most are those least willing to actually help people.

Loyalty. I distrust loyalty because it's the source of all the wrongs you talk about. People are far more willing to hurt, rape, murder and bully others when they're being loyal to a team. If we were to uncover a hidden trove of humanity loving gaia people I'd be all for it. But in reality, those who are most loyal are most without a conscience.

Liberty. An excuse for any number of wrongdoings. Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, all places that have been bombed to hell and messed up by people who seek liberty with no sense of proportionality or care for life who are willing to slay millions to stop bullies. If we were to uncover a hidden trove of true freedom lovers who cared about human life and not just their principles I'd be all for it. But in reality, those who care most about liberty care least about their own cruelty.

Sanctity. The domain of people like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Genghis Khan, gay bashers, racists, neonazis. Odd and esoteric principles are used as an excuse for genocide and slaughter. If we were to unearth a proper person with actually decent principles I'd be all for it, but the only people who are really concerned about sanctity seem to be those who want to impose their cruel will on others.

I escalated it a bit by the end there, but you probably take my point- you can posit anything as the true cause of all pain.

In reality, problems and bad things have a complex set of causes that is often not well connected to authorities. Many bullies are independent, much hurt is done by people outside of authoritarian systems.
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Re: Moral Foundations Theory

Postby Razmoudah » Tue May 03, 2016 12:31 pm

What's really sad here is most of those hidden troves you wouldn't mind finding were practically defining aspects of some pagan religions, before Christianity made it a point to ensure they were wiped out or nearly wiped out.

Also, most of that discussion is just a mirror of the Seven Virtues/Seven Deadly Sins situation. Each Virtue has a Deadly Sin that is frequently the Virtue taken to either a hideous extreme or without guidance, in other words different sides of the same coins. Probably the single greatest argument that the greatest danger to the world is Absolute Good or Absolute Evil becoming absolutely dominant, as they need the other to act as a counter-balance.
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Re: Moral Foundations Theory

Postby Nepene » Wed May 04, 2016 7:39 am

Razmoudah wrote:What's really sad here is most of those hidden troves you wouldn't mind finding were practically defining aspects of some pagan religions, before Christianity made it a point to ensure they were wiped out or nearly wiped out.

Also, most of that discussion is just a mirror of the Seven Virtues/Seven Deadly Sins situation. Each Virtue has a Deadly Sin that is frequently the Virtue taken to either a hideous extreme or without guidance, in other words different sides of the same coins. Probably the single greatest argument that the greatest danger to the world is Absolute Good or Absolute Evil becoming absolutely dominant, as they need the other to act as a counter-balance.


Eh, there's been a lot of crazy tolerant religious folks. Romans, Genghis Khan, the British Empire. All left a sea of blood behind them. Christian religion or not, tolerant or not, horrific stuff tends to happen.

Part of my dislike of care comes from its selectiveness. When one nation of any sort tends to rule lands far enough away that they don't care about the people there people tend to get fucked up. I'd agree that some absolute becoming dominant is bad, but historically, I'd describe it more as absolute whatever race. A lot of people claim to be good, but very few give a fuck about foreigners far away. Complex bonds of friendship and loyalty and care and love of family and a desire to better people's lives bring an army together and their caring nature gets applied very selectively to benefit themselves and hurt others.
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Re: Moral Foundations Theory

Postby jocaypa » Wed May 04, 2016 9:45 pm

Authority - if a person is in charge or a rule is in place, do what they say.
Proportionality - if you hit me, I hit you back. Fair is fair.
Care - help as many people as possible, hurt as few people as possible.
Loyalty - if you're on my team, I've got your back.
Liberty - bullies shouldn't be able to tell people what to do.
Sanctity - some things (human life, childhood innocence, the truth, etc) are precious and in need of protection.

You know? Maybe this has been said before -i admit i haven't read through the whole thread (and would like to apologize for it)-, but to me it seems like these "foundations" have to do with various personality measurements like "altruism", "deferral" or "thought independence". Pretty sure there are some fancy words for them, but basically, the more altruist you are, the more likely you're to value care over proportionality. the more power-deferential you are, the more like you'll choose authority over loyalty. finally, the more thought-independent you are, the more likely you'll prefer liberty over sanctity. This is just a five minutes thought, but i bet there's some scientific law underlying these six values.

Now for my personal rating (boy, do i love personality tests online).

1. Loyalty
2. Liberty
3. Care
4. Proportionality
5. Sanctity
6. Authority

I don't trust people who are in charge without having proven himself as worthy of it. I do accept most rules at face value, but partly because i enjoy playing with them in idle thoughts and often end up testing its constraints myself (hypothetically, don't worry).
I have taboos and beliefs deeply ingrained in me, and although i accept that they're not the root of all my "sanctity" thoughts (hence accepting the fact that these thoughts aren't based only on "things i will overcome eventually"), i believe they make up for the majority of them.
I possess impulses of proportionality that i try to control in order to become a better person. Not hitting back when struck (because i can't trust myself to take a good decision instantly after being hurt), not letting thoughts of jealousy or stubbornness overtake me (because both stem from a desire to have something I do not have, because "if others can have it, why can't I?" / "it's not a big deal, I should have it anyways"). Then why isn't proportionality lower? For one, I suspect my view here is biased. For two, I'm not always successful at controlling said impulses and hence end up submitting to this "moral" more often than I'd like.
I like thinking of myself as an altruist person, partly because I don't wanna (feel like i'm) be controlled by my psychological egoism, partly because my personal golden rule is "do upon others as you'd like being done upon yourself"). Although in my mind i'd always do care, in the real life i don't do it often enough.
Liberty and loyalty are weird concepts for me. They feel like i do them not for their own value, but for personal experiences that can only be summarized under their respective headers. For liberty, i enjoy representing those who are often undermined for very selfish reasons, namely that i often belong in said group and would enjoy a better attention. Once I've got some power (which has already happened at least a few times, always in small communities and the such) i try to fix the bad things i noticed before i became someone, but this part of the plan often meets irregular degrees of success. Finally, loyalty is fickle because friendship and camaraderie aren't things i enjoy often. As such, i only get to be loyal in two situations: with the few people that have stuck around for long enough, and in the heat of the moment with people i'm having a good time with. During those times, though, it becomes the most important thing to the point of overwhelming any possible opposition. Thus i rank it first.
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Re: Moral Foundations Theory

Postby Razmoudah » Thu May 05, 2016 6:52 am

Nepene wrote:Eh, there's been a lot of crazy tolerant religious folks. Romans, Genghis Khan, the British Empire. All left a sea of blood behind them. Christian religion or not, tolerant or not, horrific stuff tends to happen.


Of your big three there the Romans are the only ones who went on a bloody rampage trying to eliminate an entire people/religion for a perceived threat, and then they only ever did it once as no other threat, perceived or otherwise, was considered great enough to warrant such actions. For all three of them if you didn't resist and co-operated with them when they showed up to conquer you you frequently were mostly left in piece. Christians on the other hand have gone out of there way to eliminate a religious group that never fought back, even to save itself from extinction, because it was contrary to the group's teachings, and Christians have done this several times (it's only the past couple of centuries where they've started to avoid being to obvious about such things). That's not exactly a balanced comparison there. A balanced comparison against Christians is Ancient Egypt and Nazi Germany, as both of those groups have participated in similar campaigns of extermination against something that wasn't even a perceived threat.
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Re: Moral Foundations Theory

Postby Nepene » Thu May 05, 2016 5:50 pm

Razmoudah wrote:
Nepene wrote:Eh, there's been a lot of crazy tolerant religious folks. Romans, Genghis Khan, the British Empire. All left a sea of blood behind them. Christian religion or not, tolerant or not, horrific stuff tends to happen.


Of your big three there the Romans are the only ones who went on a bloody rampage trying to eliminate an entire people/religion for a perceived threat, and then they only ever did it once as no other threat, perceived or otherwise, was considered great enough to warrant such actions. For all three of them if you didn't resist and co-operated with them when they showed up to conquer you you frequently were mostly left in piece. Christians on the other hand have gone out of there way to eliminate a religious group that never fought back, even to save itself from extinction, because it was contrary to the group's teachings, and Christians have done this several times (it's only the past couple of centuries where they've started to avoid being to obvious about such things). That's not exactly a balanced comparison there. A balanced comparison against Christians is Ancient Egypt and Nazi Germany, as both of those groups have participated in similar campaigns of extermination against something that wasn't even a perceived threat.


Rome has gone on a number of bloody rampages, against the Jews, Carthage, Ilurgia, independent towns like Pindenissus, the Second Samnite War, the Hannibalic Wars, Numantia. They did it a lot.

Genghis Khan annihilated lots of people for some perceived threat. China dropped 30-60 million in population after he came. That was his thing. He came, you either surrendered or he murdered all your men women and children.

The British Empire had quite a few major famines where they shipped food away from starving people because they didn't really care about the populace.

Christians aren't a composite group. There are many sorts, some more genocidal than others.
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Re: Moral Foundations Theory

Postby Razmoudah » Fri May 06, 2016 8:27 am

And how many of those efforts were dedicated attempts at genocide? When the Romans were trying to eliminate the potential followers of Christ to stop this 'King of the World' that had been born. None of the other examples you gave were dedicated attempts at genocide. Christians, and the Roman Catholic church in particular, have engaged in wars of extermination, or dedicated attempts at genocide, several times, particularly during the Dark Ages and Middle Ages, or haven't you heard of the Crusades? Not all of the Crusades were wars of extermination, but some were, as were the Witch Hunts and other anti-heretic measures they have taken. What sets a war of extermination apart is that even if you surrender they'll still most likely kill you, so you might as well fight.
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