Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Science of Libertarian Morality?

There is a new(?) social psychology study which explores the formation of the libertarian personality. Naturally, I have issues with many of the conclusions presented, but it is an interesting read anyway. It can be found here.

- Steve


  1. An interesting paper. At first blush, it seemed to me Mr. Haidt was simply trying to complicate what should be some rather obvious traits which are common among self described libertarians. However the article you linked to is only a summary of the paper. I'd love to see the original.

    You can easily find Jonathan Haidt's home page. There, I found a political essay of his entitled "What's Wrong With Those Tea Partiers?", which, to my mind at least, makes some fairly compact and cogent observations.

    Towards the end of the essay, he writes:

    "Liberal readers may object that 1) Obama has been governing more as a centrist than as a left-wing collectivist; 2) George W. Bush was the real enemy of liberty with his contempt for civil rights, and 3) Healthcare costs and global warming are looming catastrophes for which vigorous action is a necessity. All true, in my opinion."


    Steve, if you don't mind, have a gander at that essay and tell me what you think.


    -P.S., Please don't be offended, but its a pet theory of mine that a lot of persons who are posing as "libertarians" are in fact ideologically indestinguishable from those we identify today as social conservatives.

    We might have found a new topic here...

  2. My opinion is unchanged.

    *I* would say Haidt makes several (more) 'questionable' statements in the full article. It would also appear that he has chosen to dynamically align himself with the 'liberal' end of the spectrum - which was suspected, but not obvious in the summary. IMHO, this alignment (as demonstrated by the end of the essay) calls into doubt his ability to maintain a legitimate 'centrist' position on political theory and motivations, which raises further questions, etc., etc., etc...

    It's not that Haidt doesn't make some interesting observations, but - as I said originally - I have issues with some (but, not all) of his conclusions. Which is as it should be.

    My upcoming posts (developed somewhat in response to your recent ones) should dovetail nicely into this arena. Stay tuned.

    BTW - I have no problem with your 'pet theory'. One of my own pet theories along these lines is that Individualists (such as myself), are facing the (unnecessary) demand that they simply *MUST* 'pick a side' and then get in line... Then, upon finding what passes for the current Liberal ideology completely repugnant, and seeing the current form of Conservative ideology as distasteful at best, they are simply choosing a group with what appears to be a 'closer fit' - Libertarianism: the evil of two lessors (or in this case, three lessors). ;-)

    However: In the Real World (a realm which both modern Liberals and Conservatives tend to avoid nowadays), forcing an Individualist align himself with this or that collective group is as about as functional as putting socks on a rooster.

    - Steve

  3. Quite true (the last part of your comment that is). The other side of the coin of course is that given the lack of viable political alternatives, most people tend to pigeon hole each other according to the mighty "R" and "D".

    If it makes you feel any better, I've always percieved you as a cantankerous, irritating and uncomfortably obtuse INDIVIDUAL. You try my patience, both with your incessant demands on my intellect (a dubious resource at best), and your unpleasant facility to speak your mind with such annoyingly swift alacrity.

  4. Flattery will get you nowhere... but keep talking.