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Individual and Society, The Moral Mind In Action

The Bees and the Hive: Liberal and Conservative Perceptions of Human Nature



The liberal vision employs only the moral color receptors cognitive tools of care/harm, fairness/cheating, and liberty/oppression. 
These are the Big E of the moral visual acuity chart.  They, and the Liberal vision, are focused almost entirely on the individual; the bee in the hive of society. 

The moral intuitions of loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, sanctity/degradation, are the shaded dots of the color blindness chart.  They are focused on the relationship between the individual and society as a whole.  These, in combination with the intuitions of the Big E, comprise the conservative moral vision.   The conservative vision is focused on the bees and the hive. 

Liberals and conservatives alike can see The Big E, but almost half of the complexity and nuance of human behavior is invisible to the liberal vision.  It focuses almost exclusively on protecting the individual from harm and ensuring that he or she is treated fairly.  The community-oriented shaded dots of the other moral foundations are outside the liberal morality.   Their importance to the fabric and overall health of human society – the “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” synergy of caring for the bees AND the hive – is largely lost on the liberal vision, and they are therefore generally interpreted as sources of oppression and abuse and therefore must be torn down.  Liberalism generally fails to recognize the existence of a connection between Cause A and the unintended consequences of Result Q, overlooking the forest as it analyzes the trees.

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