Several themes, observations, about the differences between liberals and conservatives, and liberalism and conservatism, run throughout The Independent Whig. The links in the “Themes” sidebar menu take the reader to the posts which reflect the themes. Moral Foundations give us much more than just our sense of right and wrong. They’re also the color receptors of the elephant’s perception of the world, the tools with which the rider constructs his arguments on behalf of the elephant, and the scope of the imagination of the two of them about what society can be. Moral foundations define our vision in every sense of the word. Thomas Sowell was right when he said the “Ideological Origins of Political Struggles” are due to “A Conflict of Visions.”
The differing perceptions, thought processes, and imaginations of liberals and conservatives result in a consistent pattern of arguments and positions that can be seen running through and behind our political struggles. These patterns are the themes of The Independent Whig.
Reason and Experience: At bottom, every viewpoint rests on a faith in something. Liberals place their faith in reason. Conservatives place their faith in experience.
Literal and Conceptual: Because of their faith in reason, liberals tend to be literal minded. Then tend to focus on factual evidence and objective analysis. Because of their faith in experience, conservatives tend to be conceptual minded. They tend to focus on the big picture. In other words, liberalism tends to look at the trees, and conservatism tends to look at the forest.
Individual and Society (or the Bees and the Hive): Liberal moral foundations tend to support the first of Richard Shweder’s ethics of moral psychology; autonomy. Liberalism tends to favor policies which provide care directly to individuals, and offer individuals a social environment in which they are free to choose their own path as long as they cause no harm directly to any other individuals. Conservative moral foundations tend to support all three of Shweder’s ethics; autonomy, community, and divinity. Consistent with conservatism’s tendency to be conceptual-minded, it tends to favor policies which care for the community as a whole. Metaphorically speaking, if human society were a beehive, liberalism would seek to protect the bees, and conservatism would seek to protect the hive and the bees.