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Morality is Greater Than The Sum Of Its Parts

Haidt has observed that the greatest miracles on earth are not natural wonders like the Grand Canyon; they are the great societies that have been created throughout human history through our ability to cooperate.  H
umans pull off these miracles through the use of an equal balance of “all the tools in the tool box” of moral foundations. (1)     

All the tools in the moral toolbox work together to form a synergistic system that is greater than the sum of its parts. A full assessment of morality must look at the net effects of the full synergistic system, and not just at each foundation, or even groups of them, in isolation.   The system is the morality, the culture, the norms, and the habits, of the social environment as a whole in which we live our lives. 

Here is Haidt’s definition of morality (2):

Morality is any system of interlocking values, practices, institutions, and psychological mechanisms that work together to suppress or regulate selfishness and make social life possible.”


(1) Video: The Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives on TED.com

(2) This definition can be found in many of Haidt’s works, here’s one that’s available online.


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