04 November 2010

This.. would explain a lot

This your brain, if you're a libertarian brain

"Typically, conservatives scored lower than liberals on the Harm and Fairness scales and much higher on Ingroup, Authority, and Purity scales. In this case, libertarians scored low on all five surveyed moral dimensions. Libertarians share with liberals a distaste for the morality of Ingroup, Authority, and Purity characteristic of social conservatives, particularly those on the religious right" - There's a good reason why we're not conservatives. And there's a good reason why there's a group of Americans who consider themselves "libertarian" who are really just conservatives. They'd still score pretty high on things like authority or ingroup dimensions or morality.

"are therefore likely to be less responsive than liberals to moral appeals from groups who claim to be victimized, oppressed, or treated unfairly." - I suppose this is true. If the claim is valid, I'm willing to entertain it. But when people just start screaming I tend to want to know what the hell is going on first rather than start taking sides.

"Libertarians put higher value on Hedonism, Self-Direction, and Stimulation than either liberals or conservatives and they put less value than either on Benevolence, Conformity, Security, and Tradition." - Hedonistic calculus is definitely a big factor in all this. If it's pleasant to someone else, I don't particularly care as long as it's not correspondingly unpleasant to someone else who is directly involved. Conformity and security and tradition are certainly bleh. Benevolence I find goes a long way, but without some self-direction, you're still not going very far with it I should think.

"Like liberals, libertarians put less value on Power, but like conservatives they value Universalism less. Universalism is defined as “understanding, appreciation, tolerance, and protection of the welfare of all people and nature.” All three put high value on Achievement. Taking these results into account, Haidt concludes that “libertarians appear to live in a world where traditional moral concerns (e.g., respect for authority, personal sanctity) are not assigned much importance.”" - This is basically correct. Respect is earned, and personal sanctity is up to the individual, and not really up to the overall function of society. If someone does not wish to conform, it seems pretty pointless to make them unless they're actually doing something dreadfully wrong to others.

"Haidt and his colleagues eventually recognized that their Moral Foundations Questionnaire was blinkered by liberal academic bias by failing to include a sixth moral foundation, Liberty..... And guess what? The researchers found that libertarians dramatically outscored liberals and conservatives when it came to putting a high value on both economic and lifestyle liberty. Most dishearteningly, liberals scored two full standard deviations below libertarians on economic liberty." - That last part is a big problem. I constantly have to argue over economics and free markets. Even with so-called free market conservatives, but much more so with liberals on which I tend to have very high correlations valuing social liberties.

"libertarians scored lower than conservatives and liberals on Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Extraversion." - Definitely true. I score very low on agreeableness and extraversion. Conscientiousness is mixed. "low scores on Agreeableness indicate a lack of compassion and a proud, competitive, and skeptical nature" - ahh skepticism. My good friend... "....libertarians are not generally Neurotic, tending to be more secure, hardy, and generally relaxed even under stressful conditions. And like liberals, libertarians scored high on Openness to New Experiences, indicating that they have broad interests and are very imaginative." - Right.

"The low level of disgust sensitivity found in libertarians could help explain why they disagree with conservatives on so many social issues, particularly those related to sexuality. Libertarians may not experience the flash of revulsion that drives moral condemnation in many cases of victimless offenses." - It's really hard to disgust me. I do experience it. But it's largely accompanied by a "to each his own" reaction, or some appreciation for nature's curious diversities, even if I don't care for everything in nature. As was asked by Bailey "What wisdom does the reflex of repugnance offer?" I mean, it might tell us not to drink spoilt milk or eat rancid meats, which is probably wise for our health, but why would assigning a value to disgusting things that we have no interest in consuming and hence placing a moral basis in that disgust matter at all?

Here's the kickers for me.
"The scale measures the tendency to empathize, defined as "the drive to identify another person's emotions and thoughts, and to respond to these with an appropriate emotion," and to systemize, or "the drive to analyze the variables in a system, and to derive the underlying rules that govern the behavior of the system." Libertarians are the only group that scored higher on systemizing than on empathizing—and they scored a lot higher." - I am a huge systems person. It's not that I don't experience empathetic responses. I do. But if I'm left to my own devices, I'll take a system for understanding something or someone over emotional connections to it 9 times out of 10.

"In fact, the researchers find that libertarians are more likely to resolve moral dilemmas by applying this utilitarian calculus than are either liberals or conservatives." - And this is basically why we arrive at libertarianism in the first place. Utilitarian calculus seems like a huge motivating feature for saying "live and let live" most of the time and for removing most governmental interferences, particularly those which reduce individual mobility and freedoms with no corresponding freedoms being gained (controlling criminal acts designed to commit harms against other individuals or their property, be they murder or fraud, for instance gains us freedom to conduct our affairs in relative peace and prosperity).

"On the Different Types of Love scale, it turns out that libertarian independence from others is associated with weaker feelings of love than liberals or conservatives have for friends, family, romantic partners, and generic others. The authors note that libertarians also report slightly less satisfaction with life than do liberals and conservatives. The researchers report that libertarians “score high individualism, low on collectivism, and low on all other traits that involved bonding with, loving, or feeling a sense of common identity with others.”" - This one is hard sometimes. I tend to get the feeling "we" prefer to be understood and perceived as useful (as part of that utilitarian calculus). But being introverts, don't like to venture out much to get too attached to someone, and vice versa is really scary. I can speak to being relatively indifferent to various types of this. I'm not that close with family, I'm not very motivated by the idea of children, and most people, strangers, I'm completely indifferent to at best. Even most friendships tend to be really strange by comparison.

"Libertarian morality, by rising above and rejecting primitive moralities embodied in the universalist collectivism of left-liberals and the tribalist collectivism of conservatives, made the rule of law, freedom of speech, religious tolerance, and modern prosperity possible" - I would not go so far as this perhaps, but I would say that it does lend itself to a very peculiar set of moral foundations that are uniquely valuable for a culture of diverse individuals. Indeed, it's hardly likely that a culture of diverse individuals could exist at all without these values being shared and enforced and practiced by enough of them because the natural diversity of humanity is so bizarre and so frequently gives rise to these wise digressions of disgust or disdain and hatred.
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