I've seen Jonathan Haidt mentioned on Less Wrong a few times, and so when I saw an article about (in part) Haidt's new book elsewhere, I thought it would be an interesting read. It was, but not for the reasons I expected. Perhaps it is unfair to judge Haidt before I have read the book, but the quotes in the article reveal some seriously sloppy thinking.
Haidt believes that there are at least six sources of moral values; the first five are harm/caring, fairness, loyalty, authority, sanctity/disgust. Liberty was recently added to the list, but doesn't seem to have made it into this article. He claims that liberals (in the American sense), care mostly (or only) only about the harm and fairness values, while conservatives care about all five. I myself am a one-foundation person, since I consider unfairness either a special case of harm, or a good heuristic for where harm is likely to occur; my views are apparently so rare that they haven't come up on Haidt's survey, and I haven't met anyone else who has reported a score like mine.
While Haidt describes himself as a "centrist", he argues that "you need loyalty, authority and sanctity to run a decent society." There are at least three ways that this claim can be read:
(1) Haidt's personal moral foundations actually include all five bases, so this is a tautology; of course someone who thinks loyalty is fundamental will think a society without loyalty is not decent. From the tenor of the article, this is at least psychologically plausible.
(2) The three non-universal values can be justified in terms of the common values. This is the interpretation that seems to be supported by some parts of the article, but it has its own issues.
(3) Haidt cannot tell the difference between (1) and (2). Most of the article makes this claim entirely plausible.
Here's one example of Haidt's moral confusion:
"In India, where he performed field studies early in his professional career, he encountered a society in some ways patriarchal, sexist and illiberal. Yet it worked and the people were lovely."
First, was Haidt surprised to find people with different politics than his to be personable? Had he literally never met a conservative before?
Second, what does it mean to say that the society "worked", or that the people were "lovely"? Indian society privileges men and certain castes over women and other castes. I say this not to denigrate India specifically, since there's no society in which women are treated equally to men, but to explain that India does have serious problems. Literacy rates among women are 68% of that of men, to pick a random statistic. And, of course, violence against women is endemic. Haidt reports that he "dined with men whose wives silently served us and then retreated to the kitchen." What does he suppose would have happened if one day one of those women refused to serve, or even, after serving, sat down at the table to join the discussion?
Of course, even this is an upper-class concern; lower class Indian women are far more likely to work outside the home, in order to survive. Apparently in some parts of India, public toilets charge women (who can ill afford it) but not men. And I can only assume that the situation was worse when Haidt was there, at least a decade ago.
Haidt rationalizes this by saying, "I was able to see a moral world in which families, not individuals, are the basic unit of society...". Perhaps this is the story that they tell (and perhaps they even believe it). But history shows that when women can find alternatives, they don't choose to live like this. So there is both a harm and a fairness concern here. Haidt, having seen the loyalty/authority story, comes to ignore the harm/fairness story. He follows this by an anecdote focusing on the harm caused by individualism, since he is apparently incapable of justifying the non-universal foundations on their own terms.
Here's another case of this confusion. Haidt claimed that among street children in Brazil, the "most dangerous person in the world is mom's boyfriend. When women have a succession of men coming through, their daughters will get raped," he says. "The right is right to be sounding the alarm about the decline of marriage, and the left is wrong to say, 'Oh, any kind of family is OK.' It's not OK."
In this instance, Haidt is switching the goalposts. His moral foundation test is designed to isolate the five foundations. But here, there is clearly harm in addition to any violation of tradition. He doesn't exactly say which non-harm foundation he wants to invoke here -- that is, what the mothers' violation is. Impurity is the only plausible choice. This, of course, brings to the front one of the most common real effects of the "purity" foundation: to disempower women.
I should add that there is no citation on this data; it also doesn't seem to appear in the book (at least, not that I could find via Google Books). A quick glance through Google does not reveal a plausible source for this. So where did he get it from? Probably not via direct observation (how would he have observed these rapes?). He must have heard it from Brazilians. Well, if that's true, then these Brazilian women must know it. And since nobody wants their daughter to get raped, this must mean that they have a very good reason for inviting these men in -- maybe the alternative is starvation. Recall that we're talking about "street children" here. I just can't imagine a woman saying, "yeah, he's going to rape my daughter, but I really love him!" But I think it's actually more likely that this is just the sort of rumor that the Catholic Church would want to spread, to combat unmarried cohabitation. It gets its memetic strength from blame-shifting/just-worldism: "If you didn't want your daughter to get raped, why did you shack (literally?) up with this guy?"
It's true that there are dangers from non-related men, as Sarah Blaffer Hrdy discusses in _Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species; there are also potential benefits. Hrdy's book (which I haven't finished reading yet) discusses both, and also vastly complicates the view of what "traditional" family is. She presents multiple equilibria, some more common among farmers and others more common among foragers (to use Robin Hanson's language). A Brazilian shantytown doesn't really fit well into either framework, so it's unclear whether norms adapted for either would be effective.
So does Haidt believe that nontraditional families are wrong because they violate purity? Or because they're harmful? The standard conservative reply to this is that our traditions evolved because they were useful (i.e. prevented harm), and to erase the traditions without understanding the value that they provided is an mistake. This is put in a delightfully patronizing way by Chesterton -- notice how he will "allow" you to clear away a tradition as though it were his decision to make.
And it is in fact relatively easy to come up with evolutionary psychology just-so stories as reasons for why loyalty, authority, and purity would have been useful in the ancestral environment. (The same is true of fairness). Authority, for instance, might help with collective decision making. Maybe it's best for the tribe to go take the left fork, and it might be better to take the right fork. But it is almost always better for them all to take the same fork, than it is to split up. If there's one tribal leader, then they can make that decision and have others agree with it. This isn't a case of group selection; every individual of the group benefits from coordination. I describe this as a "just-so story" here because it would be extremely difficult to find evidence for whether in fact a specific moral intuition evolved for a specific reason. Haidt's book apparently presents some of these arguments in the context of group selection, but in this particular example, group selection (or even kin selection or reciprocal altruism) isn't a necessary part of the hypothesis; treating groups as part of the environment (rather than as the unit of evolution) is sufficient.
Moral foundations theory is perhaps useful descriptively, in that, if it were shown to be something beyond a just-so story, it would explain why there are five (or six, or more) foundations as opposed to one or two. It is, however, missing a piece: why are there people who don't share all five foundations? The evolutionary argument is not useful prescriptively, because evolution only cares about harm (and only certain kinds of harm), and once we decide to see moral questions in terms of harm, then questions of actual harm can screen off the other evolved heuristics. Yes, humans are Adaptation-Executers, not Fitness-Maximizers. So there are lots of cases where we follow our evolved intuitions rather than the pressures that selected for those intuitions. But we are also apparently adapted to contemplate moral philosophy. So when we find ourselves justifying an evolved intuition A in terms of another evolved intuition B, we might consider B more fundamental. And if there are cases where A isn't explainable in terms of B, five-foundation people just get stuck. This, perhaps does explain the one- or two-foundation view; it's what happens when you ask "why?" once, and throw out everything that doesn't actually have an answer. When you ask a second time, you're getting into the realm of meta-ethics. Instrumental five-foundation people (such as Haidt, probably), wouldn't get stuck -- but they would fall back to harm.
Maybe there's another argument for the three non-universal foundations, but Haidt doesn't make it. Does he feel that, by defining something as a "foundation", it doesn't need an argument? But if so, why does he keep reaching for harm as an explanation?
As a descriptive theory, Haidt's moral foundation framework helps explain some of the differing moral values people have. Haidt seems to wrongly interpret it as a useful prescriptive tool. However he has not presented any reason to think that it is, in fact, useful prescriptively, and has presented several reasons to doubt it.
None of this is to say that there are no reasons to be conservative. You could be conservative instrumentally (as Haidt seems to be), or you could be conservative because you really do consider all five bases to be inherently valuable (you could also do both at once, but that should make you slightly suspicious that you're rationalizing). There's no inherent problem with either of those. Haidt's problem is that he wants to have it both ways; he want to present the non-universal foundations as inherently valuable, but all his actual arguments are about their instrumental value.
You are right that Haidt is missing that piece, although judging by his recent writings, he might be slowly converging towards the answer. Namely, the answer is that, contrary to Haidt's model of contemporary ideologies, there are in fact no such people.
What does exist are people whose ideology says that harm and (maybe) fairness are the only rational and reasonable moral foundations, while the other ones are only due to ignorance, stupidity, backwardness, malice, etc. Nevertheless, these same people have their own strong norms of sacredness, purity, authority, and in-group loyalty, for which they however invent ideologically motivated rationalizations in terms of harm and fairness. These rationalizations are usually very flimsy, and often they amount to little more than an instinctive emotional urge to dismiss anyone who asks unpleasant questions as crazy or malicious. Yet, given the high status and institutional dominance of such ideologies, their adherents generally do manage to create a public image of themselves as concerned only with the "rational" foundations (and thus s... (read more)
While they are likely necessary for organized human society, I think the argument is that their purpose is purely instrumental. It's sort of like how in the prisoner's dilemma, the concept of 'trust' ('tit for tat with forgiveness' variants) is an instrumentally useful strategy for winning points in a group of a certain kind of agents. Even if humans have loyalty, authority and sanctity built-in, they can still recognize their instrumental role and can only instrumentally optimize for those.
There are two distinct questions here:
Are the standard liberal ideological positions (in the American sense of the word) really as low on the sacredness/authority/in-group values as Haidt would claim?
Are there, generally speaking, significant numbers of people (perhaps weighted by their influence) whose ideological positions are truly low on the sacredness/authority/in-group values? (Whatever their overlap with the standard liberal positions might be.)
I believe that the answer to (1) is decisively no. And here I don't have in mind some minor holdovers, but some of the very central tenets of the ideology of modern liberalism -- which are largely liberal innovations, and not just unexamined baggage from the past. So even if I'm committing fallacies here, they're not fallacies of gray. In this thread and the linked older comments, I have already elaborated on one significant example where the standard liberal positions are heavy on... (read more)
I think my problem with your responses on this thread so far has been that you've taken various liberal positions, said "Obviously this a sacredness value, liberals say it's about harm but they are lying", and not justified this. Or else "Some people say they are utilitarians, but obviously they are lying and have sacredness and purity and authority values just like everyone else" and not justified that either.
For example, where exactly is this liberal sacredness around sexual autonomy? The place I see liberals really get worked up about this is tolerance of homosexuality, but the standard liberal mantra in this case, that it's okay because it "doesn't harm anyone", seems to me to be entirely correct - it's throwing out a conservative purity-based value in favor of a genuinely harm-based value. Liberals are pretty happy to oppose clear-cut cases of harm in sexual relations like rape or lying about STDs, not to mention that most of them oppose pedophilia and prostitution.
In order to demonstrate that liberal sexual values are sacredness rather than harm based, you'd need to point out some specific sexual practice that was harmless but which liberals stil... (read more)
"Lying" is not the right word, since it suggests conscious deception. The term I have used consistently is rationalization.
Arguing against liberal positions on such matters is very difficult because they tend to be backed by a vast arsenal of rationalizations based on purportedly rational considerations of harm or fairness, often coming from prestigious and accredited intellectual institutions where liberals predominate. This is of course in addition to the dense minefield of "boo lights" where an argument, whatever its real merits, will trigger such outrage in a liberal audience that the discourse will be destroyed and the speaker discredited.
So, while I can readily point ... (read more)
I've often seen you say this kind of thing in your comments. Do you participate in another forum where you do describe the details? Or alternatively, are you preparing us to eventually be ready to hear the details by giving these vague and general points?
I think there is a good chance that many of your ideas are wrong and you are probably more confident about them than you should be. (Nothing personal, I just think most new ideas are wrong and their proponents overconfident.) I could argue against the vague and general points that you offer, but it feels pointless since presumably you have stronger arguments that you're not sharing so I have no way of convincing you or bystanders that you are wrong, nor is it likely that you can convince me that you are right (without sharing those details). I imagine other potential critics probably feel the same and also stay silent as a result... (read more)
Yes, it's quite possible that you've thought through these issues more thoroughly than I have. But one thing that makes me more skeptical than usual is that you're the only person I know who often makes claims like "I privately have better arguments but I can't share them because they would be too inflammatory". If your arguments and conclusions are actually correct, why haven't other people discovered them independently and either made them public (due to less concern about causing controversy) or made similar claims (about having private arguments)? Do you have an explanation why you seem to be in such an uncommon epistemic position? (For example do you have certain cognitive strengths that make it easier for you to see certain insights?)
If I were you, I would be rather anxious to see if my arguments stand up under independent scrutiny, and would find a place where they can be discussed without causing excessive harm. I asked earlier whether you discuss your ideas in other forums or have plans to make them public eventually. You didn't answer explicitly which I guess means the answers to both are "no"? Can you explain why?
Sorry, I composed the above comment in a rush, and forgot to address the other questions you asked because I focused on the main objection.
Regarding other forums, the problem is that they offer only predictable feedback based on the ideological positions of the owners and participants. Depending on where I go, I can get either outrage and bewilderment or admiring applause, and while this can be fun and vanity-pleasing, it offers no useful feedback. So while I do engage in ideological rants and scuffles for fun from time to time on other forums, I've never bothered with making my writing there systematic and precise enough to be worth your time.
Regarding other thinkers, I actually don't think that much of my thinking is original. In fact, my views on most questions are mostly cobbled together from insights I got from various other authors, with only some additional synthesis and expansion on my part. I don't think I have any unusual epistemic skills except for unusually broad curiosity and the ability to take arguments seriously even if their source and ultimate conclusion are low-status, unpleasant, ideologically hostile to my values and preferences, etc. (Of course, neither of th... (read more)
Thank you for this data point, but it doesn't move me as much as you may have expected. I think many flawed arguments are flawed in subtle enough ways that it takes "many eyes" to detect the flaws (or can even survive such scrutiny for many years, see some of the flawed security proofs in cryptography for important commonly used algorithms and protocols as evidence). I personally would not update very much even if I saw the arguments for myself and found them convincing, unless I knew that many others with a diversity of expertise and cognitive styles have reviewed and had a chance to discuss the arguments and I've looked over those discussions as well.
Typically the first thing I do after finding a new idea is to look for other people's discussions of it. I'm concerned that many are like me in this regard, but when they come to Vladimir_M's "vague and general" arguments, they see them highly upvoted without much criticism, and wrongly conclude that many people have reviewed these "vague and general" arguments a... (read more)
I've browsed Stormfront a few times (rather extensively). That is certainly a forum where people like Vlad would be allowed to plainly state their arguments, and might even reasonably get some cheering. However, there is a slight problem; I haven't seen any actual people like Vlad there, and that is understandable, since people like Vlad have some self-respect and probably wouldn't be caught dead posting at such crackpot shitholes.
(I certainly saw some people like Vlad in the comments on UR, but even there about every third comment is useless angry noise.)
You're right, I shouldn't have used the word "lying". That mistake bothers me when other people do it, and I'm sorry for doing it myself.
But other than that...I'm afraid the whole point of my last post was to ask for examples, that we have different standards of what constitutes an example, and that I'm still not happy. For me, "Liberals have strong norms around equality" is not an example; I'm thinking something more along the lines of "You know how liberals are pro-choice? That's irrational for reasons X and Y and Z."
Can you give an example of a specific laissez-faire sexual policy that causes expensive negative-sum signaling games, and a practically workable less laissez-faire policy that would solve those negative-sum signaling games?
Can you give an example o... (read more)
Are there liberals who try to crack down on commercial advertising wars? As far as I know, some liberals may grumble about the social waste of Coca-Cola and Pepsi spending millions to expand their relative share in a zero-sum competition, but they don't actually try to suppress it.
Smoking bans are not absolute, just in closed public places where the smoking affects nonconsenting third parties. Liberals tend to favor legalization of recreational drug use when no third parties are affected. They also would, I think, support criminalizing having unprotected sex if you knowingly have a STD and you don't tell your partner, which is the closest analogue I can imagine to smoking bans. So I don't see the inconsistency.... (read more)
When Vladimir_M uses the phrase "traditional sexual norms", he probably is not referring to those norms which you are referring to in your post. Rather, he is probably speaking of a certain subset of Western norms, likely lifelong heterosexual monogamy. This is extremely unoptimized for "lots of conquest and rape".
One way in which sacredness commonly manifests itself is through sacred boundaries that serve as strong Schelling points. In fact, I am convinced that any large-scale human social organization depends to a significant degree on Schelling points whose power and stability rests on the fact that the thought of their violation arouses strong moral intuitions of sacrilege. (Even though this might be non-obvious from their stated rationale.)
Take for example the ancient Roman pomerium, the boundary of the city of Rome that was explicitly held as sacred. In particular, bearing arms within the pomerium was considered as sacrilege, and this norm was taken very seriously during the Republican p... (read more)
This is a non sequitur. An argument may change people's moral beliefs and intuitions by changing the underlying tacit basis for their rationalizations, whereupon they get displaced by new ones. The most frequent way this happens is when people realize that a realignment of their moral intuitions is in their interest because it offers some gain in power, wealth, or (most commonly) status, or perhaps it will help avoid some trouble.
Moreover, pointing out that people's stated views don't match their actions is almost never an effective way to change their views. Usually it's effective only in provoking hostility and making their rationalization mechanisms work somewhat harder than usual.
They have never been just about parasites, especially when it comes... (read more)
On the contrary -- it seems to me that the modern Western societies are, by all historical standards, exceptionally obsessed with sacredness norms on sex-related issues. See my old comment I linked earlier, in which I elaborate on some particularly striking manifestations of this.
(Also, among the most amusing posts on Overcoming Bias are those where Robin Hanson elicits outrage from the respectable progressive folk by putting some sex-related issue under dispassionate scrutiny and thereby violating their sacredness intuitions.)
As for the polyamorists, I don't have any direct insight into the inner workings of these communities except for a few occasional glimpses offered by LW posts and comments. But unless they are composed of extremely unusual self-selected outliers (which might be the case given their very small size), I would suspect that they are again just rationalizing a somewhat different (and possibly even more extreme) set of sacredness norms.
The thing is, what determines when autonomy is absolute and inviolable, and when it should be weighed against other concerns?
When it comes to interventions in human affairs by the state and other institutions, modern liberals pride themselves on their supposed adherence to (what they see as) rational and scientific cost-benefit analysis and common-sense notions of equality and fairness. They typically assert that their opponents are being irrational, or acting out of selfish interest, when they insist that some other principle takes precedence, like for example when conservatives insist on respecting tradition and custom, or when libertarians insist on inviolable property rights. In particular, liberals certainly see it as irrational when libertarians oppose their favored measures on the grounds of individual liberty and autonomy.
However, there are issues on which liberals themselves draw absolutist lines and lose all interest for cost-benefit analysis, as well as for concerns about equality and fairness that are perfectly analogous to those they care about greatly in other cases. Sex is the principal example. Liberals argue in favor of comprehensive intervention and regulation ... (read more)
The unprecedented amount of hand-wringing might not be indicative of an increase in the number or magnitude of sex-related problems if it turns out that previous norms also discouraged public discussions of such problems. What are the other metrics by which we can say that the current set of norms are working badly in practice? Are there fewer people having sex, are they having less enjoyable sex, or are their sexual relationships less fulfilling and of shorter duration or are these norms destabilising society in other ways?
I think part of the difference between my experience and your statement, is that the liberals I know tend towards the libertarian end of the spectrum. At least on the drug issue, this might be a function of age.
The liberal argument against libertarianism is not that it is irrational to have a preference for liberty, but that (a) liberty is a more complicated concept than libertarians say it is (see Amartya Sen, for instance), (b) that libertarians often equivocated between the moral and practical arguments for libertarianism (see Yvain's non-libertarian FAQ, for instance), and (c) that the practical benefits are often not as-claimed (ibid).
Similarly, many liberals are in favor of certain sorts of regulations on sexual autonomy -- many oppose prostitution and traditional polygyny, for instance (there are, of course, a number of complications here, as well as variance among liberals). Some liberals also oppose the burqa and would criminalize clitoridectomy (this is more of a live issue in Europe). Finally, liberals tend to favor regulations against sexual harassment, which, defined broadly, could include some consensual conduct such as a consensual boss-subordinate relationship. ... (read more)
In response to your final questions:
Liberals (myself included) tend to very much like the idea of using regulation to transfer some wealth from the strongest players to the weakest in society. We like to try to set up the rules of the game so that nobody would be economically very poor, and so that things in general were fair and equitable.
In the case of sex and relationships, the argument could also be made for regulation that would transfer "sexual wealth" and "relationship wealth" from the strongest players to those who are not so well off. In fact, it seems to me that very many traditional conservative societies have tried to do just that, by strongly promoting e.g. such values that one should have only one sexual partner (along with marriage) during one's life. Rock stars and other sorts of alpha males who take many hot girls for themselves would be strongly disapproved of by typical traditional conservative societies. The underlying reason may be that traditional monogamy produces a sexually more equal society, and that this has been one contributing factor why societies with such values have been so successful throughout much of human history.
Most liberal... (read more)
So exactly what was the point of this article? Boo conservative values, yay liberal values? I am sure we need more like this on LessConservative!
Sure, a conservative mindkilled person may fail to notice that women in conservative societies can be opressed and battered by their husbands, in the name of sacred family. Just like a liberal mindkilled person may fail to notice that some women don't mind their daughters raped by their sexy alpha boyfriends, in the name of sacred sexual freedom. What a coincidence -- biased people not noticing their biases!
However, liberal biases are OK, because liberal people say so; both here and in academy. On the other hand we should remove all topics that could offend... ahem... people other than conservatives. For example, discussions about "pick-up arts" -- their strawman versions could make women feel unwelcome. A "pick-up artist" would probably not make the same mistake as author of this article; but for our rationality, it is better if they take their evidence elsewhere. If my opinions are right, I want to believe my opinions are right; and if my opinions are wrong, I want to believe your opinions are harmful.
Seriously -- we ... (read more)
To use terminology I do not wager Multiheaded would object to, he takes the threat of certain right-wing political philosophies very seriously. Perhaps goal is the not the best term, however. See here for a glimpse of what I mean.
In a nontrivial number of his posts, one could say that a specter is haunting Multiheaded, the specter of fascism. As such, a good bit of his output consists of left-wing ghost-busting.
Indeed, your terminology is OK with me. (Just one qualification: "certain modern right-wing political philosophies") However, you forgot to mention my roguish charm, my irresistable allure and my gorgeous looks.
It is a summary reaction to both this article and your comments in Admitting to Bias. I have read both these articles with discussions in a short time, and my mindkilling alarm started ringing. So I posted my comment here, because unlike in the other thread, here you received upvotes, which to me means that community standards (of avoiding politically motivated thinking) are in danger.
If I'd read only this article without any other context, I probably wouldn't write the same kind of reaction. So I guess a large part of my comment was "object connotationally".
Specifically, you are right in saying that if Haidt shows five foundations of morality, and then defends one of them by saying that violating this foundation causes harm, then this value is probably a heuristics for minimizing harm. Although you and Haidt may use different definition of "foundation" -- since you explicitly provided neither, I don't know. For you it may be "something that cannot be reduced to other values", and for Haidt "something directly percieved emotionally". In which case both of you could be ri... (read more)
Well there are left-writers of similar extremism quoted approvingly on LessWrong. They just happen not to be as obscure as their right wing counterparts. Basically any far left position you can think of (say Stalinism ) has some unobscure figure arguing for it. But I can see why you'd mind Moldbug, he's just some dude with a blog, which he himself emphasises.
What I don't see is Heartiste/Roissy. He's one of several pick up artists that's name dropped and discussed when the subject of romance or sex comes up and while the online scene itself is somewhat obscure anyone who is at all familiar with it also knows about him. If PUA in general is your complaint why didn't you just say so? Our sister site Overcoming Bias does directly link to Heartiste's blog (under its old name of Roissy in DC) so maybe he is overrepresented in PUA discussions, but I'd argue a larger part of why he is overrepresented is that he makes a good target to straw man PUA.
Wait libertarianism is scary far right now?
Well ok I guess a third of LessWrong i... (read more)
Good, I was aiming for snark.
But yes I'm fully aware people really do think like that. Check out the link I put in "evil knows no bounds". I've seen hysterical diatribes elsewhere online of how utterly vile and wicked it is of Thiel to pay exceptional young people not to go to college since it RUINS THEIR FUTURE FOREVER. Contrary to all the data we have on what education actually does, which shows they will likely be fine since college is probably mostly signaling.
What I think you will have to admit, is that people like Thiel are also the kind of people who are more likely than average to take things like encouraging social or technological innovation, curing ageing, cryonic and existential risk seriously. Just inspecting the sources of funding of such efforts should give you overwhelming of evidence of this.
If you take away Robin Hanson and other people from that cluster away, cease to tolerate them, preciously little original synthesis and though beyond what academia already did would remain. I would go as far as to say that applied rationality and self-improvement that actually works is indeed a strong attractor in the context of... (read more)
Regardless of what you think of his opinions, Mencius Moldbug is, if nothing else, eloquent.
It is interesting to see Ayn Rand, Heartiste, and Chesterton as examples of "the right". Makes me thinking what exactly does this concept mean; what exactly do these three have in common... which they don't share with George Orwell.
To me it seems more like a "Blue Politics is the Mindkiller" rule.
You have a very limited imagination and limited experience in moving outside middle our upper class social circles or you are being dishonest. Go out and meet some young people in your nearest underclass neighbourhood. Or if that is too scary read up on the sociology papers on such communities.
Even outside of that, women find dark triad traits sexually attractive in men. Getting away with violence is also sexy. Now pause to consider in addition to thins things like Stockholm syndrome and do the math.
Also to add mere anecdotal evidence a good friend of mine in primary school was routinely beaten up by the trashy boyfriends his mother dragged home so I have very little patience for "oh noble mothers never make bad decisions for their kids in order to follow their romantic or sexual preferences!" sacredness signalling.
The whole article is mindkilling, and this is one of the reasons I downvoted it.
I personally know at least two girls (now women) whose mothers didn't mind too much the risk of their daughters being raped by their boyfriends. To be precise, their reasoning wasn't exactly like "he's going to rape my daughter, but I really love him", but more like "I love him, so I am going to ignore all the evidence that he is trying to rape my daughter, including my daughter's complaints".
Meta: How likely is it that author's political orientation made it more difficult to believe in existence of this kind of female behavior?
I once read an account of a person writing about the sexual abuse he (I think it was a he) had to undergo as a child, where his stepfather would routinely rape him if there was an opportunity for it. His mother was aware of this and considered it an annoying chore to try to ensure that the two wouldn't end up alone with each other, one that she would rather not have bothered with.
I distrust any long list of plausible-sounding but arbitrary entries (7 habits of..., 8 simple rules...)
Haidt doesn't have a fixed number in mind. He started with Richard Shweder's list of three moral foundations which seem to have a firm grounding in psychology, evolutionary biology, and anthropology, and then went looking for more. At one point he even offered prize money to people who suggested a promising new foundation. The sixth foundation that he added, liberty/oppression, was based on the suggestion of a prize winner (the psychologist John Jost, who has his own theory of political psychology and has been one of Haidt's harsher critics).
9 Peano axioms, 3 types of radioactive decay, 8 planets (are dwarf planets "arbitrary"?)...
I have an a priori distrust for social science theories, but only because of the heuristic, "there are far more ways to be incorrect than correct", not because "ways to be correct don't come in list form".
In particular, prepending the list cardinality with "at least" shows at least a bit of self-awareness.
I only glanced at the article, but from the book, it's obvious that (2) is correct. Near the end, Haidt recounts that after he had developed moral foundations theory, he thought that it explained conservative morality. But he still thought that conservatives were the enemy, and that judging by liberal moral foundations (which he shared), they were in the wrong. However, he was eventually shocked to run into convincing conservative intellectuals who sought to show that conservative policies would turn out as the best ones, even if they were judged using liberal criteria.
He is also explicit about conservative p... (read more)
What would happen in a western country if someone say refused to pay their taxes? My point is that the implicit threat of violence underlies all societies so, yes, you can make any society look bad by selectively pointing this out.
Or to take an even more poignant example, what will happen if you refuse to be humble and obedient when you get pulled over by a cop? Historically, in many places and times, this example would have had similarly great emotional power as those employed by the author of the original post.
(In fact, I find it fascinating that present-day Americans would see it as a creepy totalitarian idea if you proposed that cops should be authorized to stop and detain pedestrians for random paper checks, even though the same thing is considered a normal and unremarkable fact of life for drivers. This example demonstrates especially clearly how random and incoherent human intuitions are when it comes to feelings of outrage at a perceived lack of freedom or equality.)
The number of instances that a typical American will need to be 'humble and obedient' - such as while getting pulled over by a cop, are possibly far fewer than the number of instances a woman in a traditional society such as the one described by Haidt is required to do so.
Possibly by an order of magnitude.
I think it's good for modeling moral attitudes.
From what I've seen, Haidt has found a model of moral behavior with statistical validity - that people are clustered in state space for the moral modalities they find most compelling, and that these cluster correlate with observed political correlations.
To my mind, he's starting scientific analysis of morality as it actually exists, and identified particular pattern matching algorithms that form some of the components of morality.
Heh, was just about to post that I as an Indian woman who has done a fair bit of travelling around the country have NEVER ever seen this, but decided to google just in case. And found a New York Times article agreeing with the claim. Upper class privilege indeed. :)
In any case this doesn't look like an institutional policy, just petty corruption against those who are the least powerless to stop it. Which is sort of your point.
Moral foundations theory is a descriptive theory about human psychology, backed by research, which has tried to identify some of the main forms of thinking which underlie people's moral beliefs. People evolved with tendencies to think about moral topics in certain ways, including not just in their explicit reasoning but in their emotions and implicit theories. For instance, people often apply a purity/contamination model to social & moral subject matter, which is facilitated by the emotion of disgust. Different cultures build different sets of moral... (read more)
Not necessarily. Or rather they might believe that, yes, some men are dangerous but my current boyfriend is an exception. Humans are remarkably good at this kind of self-deception.
I've written quite a bit about Haidt in my work on Propertarianism. Perhaps I can move the discussion out of the psychological and often pseudoscientific (preferential experience) and into the legal and often scientific (necessary cooperation)
1) Haidt's Moral foundations are reducible to descriptions of those instincts necessary for the preservation of the disproportionately high rewards of cooperation through the various prohibitions on 'cheating' which disincentives and undermines that cooperation. He describes his work by referencing evolutionary theor... (read more)