Moral Foundations Theory

Serious discussions on politics, religion, and the like.

Re: Moral Foundations Theory

Postby agustjandraacademy » Sun Sep 22, 2019 8:54 pm

Interesting.....
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Re: Moral Foundations Theory

Postby Killjoy » Fri Oct 11, 2019 7:38 pm

For starters, I'd split "care", trying to conflate "you ought not people" with "you ought to help people" mixes up a lot of separate things. See, the debate between negative rights and positive rights.

The problem with positive rights, or "you ought to help people", is that it imposes active obligations on others to go out of their way and expend their resources to provide something. It's one thing to say "people can't take your food from you" (negative right), and an entirely different thing to say "people are obligation to make sure you have food" (positive right).

Another example -- you don't have a right to free speech in the sense that others are obligated to listen or obligated to provide a platform -- you have a right to free speech in that the goverment is very very constrained in what it can prevent you from saying or punish you for saying.
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Re: Moral Foundations Theory

Postby dreamertalin » Sun May 24, 2020 4:56 pm

Sorry for arriving late to the party, I only recently discovered the comic (love it!) although I am a long-time reader of Leftover Soup, 1/0, DMFA and related comics.

Tailsteak wrote:3) Is there some neutral standpoint, outside of these six, from which we can evaluate and weigh the foundations? Without appealing to Care for its own sake, can there be any reason for me to claim that Care is the right moral foundation to have? Conversely, does my lack of concern for the other five foundations indicate a failing on my part, and should I strive to reorient my own priorities to attain balance? If I did somehow value all six foundations equally, wouldn't that just make me inconsistent and incapable of weighing one priority against another?

In fact, there is, which is a practical concern. Any social institution (I'm going to first talk about institutions rather than moral values) must have a means of propagating itself into the future, otherwise it's moot. A set of codes and rules which causes its adherents to die, fail to reproduce, leave the group, or cease to believe in its tenets is doomed to irrelevancy. These codes and rules must not only work for the benefit of said members, but must inspire them to work towards the persistence of the institution over time.

Now, unlike human institutions, moral foundations are timeless and not concerned with practicality...or are they? It is certainly true that concrete social institutions are motivated and informed by abstract foundations such as the ones you cite. So we may judge the effects of such principles on the perseverance of organizations and governing structures that have been inspired by these values.

For example, although I am no fan of authoritarianism, it has a pretty good track record in the persistence department - given than 95% of recorded history occurred under some form of feudalism. On the other hand, I am not convinced that this track record stands up so well when viewed across the span of millennia as opposed to mere generations - empires rise and fall, and while authoritarianism persists, specific "authorities" do not. Moreover, the kind of mistakes that authorities make are recoverable in small-scale muscle-powered societies, but might be species-ending in the hands of a global superpower armed with nuclear weapons.

Also, as some psychological studies have indicated, authoritarianism tends to be toxic to the people in authority. Having no one around you who is willing to speak truth to power, to say "no", poisons the intellect and leads to bad decision-making, even if you were good at decision making before you got into that position.

There is another meta-principle at work here, which is the value of keeping my options open: my choice of which guiding principle is the most important may change over time as I grow older and hopefully wiser. It would be a poor strategy on my part to make irrevocable choices that "locked me in" to a given set of moral decisions now, unable to change my mind later. As fantasy author Graydon Saunders attempts to portray in his fictional Commonweal (a magical society based on egalitarian principles), one tenet of social governance should be to maximize future choice.

So moral decisions have practical consequences, which is obvious on a small scale, and an interesting field of study on larger scales - one word for this is economics.

Killjoy wrote:See, the debate between negative rights and positive rights.

I want to comment briefly on this. The problem is that there's no clear distinction between these categories - all of our actions potentially have consequences to others, it's just that some of them are too subtle to be worth bothering with. We are all more connected than we may care to believe - no man is a mitochondrial island. If the current pandemic has any moral "theme", it is in the conflict between individual liberties and communal safety.

In this fascinating essay by the always brilliant Steve Randy Waldman, he makes a compelling argument that the reason that urban people are more likely to be liberal is that in densely-populated communities, people are far more aware of how their neighbors actions can blow back on them; whereas to people living in wide-open spaces where the nearest neighbors are several minutes car-ride away, arguments about externalities seem counterintuitive and illogical.
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