Moral Foundations Theory

This category contains 16 posts

Haidt’s Evenhandedness Dilutes the Message

Haidt is a social scientist in the best sense of the word “scientist.”   He forms a hypothesis, tests it as rigorously as possible, and follows the evidence wherever it may lead, even if it leads to ideas that are contrary to his own personal leanings.  He does not seek to judge, only to explain.  But … Continue reading

Introduction to Moral Foundations Theory

This post offers a brief overview of Moral Foundations Theory.  For complete information see the Publications page Haidt’s web site, or his book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, by Jonathan Haidt One of my favorite articles by Haidt about Moral Foundations Theory is“Planet of the Durkheimians, Where Community, … Continue reading

How To Train an Elephant

The elephant can never be convinced by a rational argument to simply change its mind, but it can be trained to react to situations differently. The Elephant represents our instincts and our intuitions, our “gut feel,” and our instant, automatic, feeling of like or dislike, approach or avoid, fight or flee.  Automatic reactions happen in the … Continue reading


If moral foundations are products of natural selection, then they exist for a reason.  The reason is that they help us to perceive, think about, and respond to threats to our individual and collective well being. They are threat detection modules. The more foundations each of us employs in our moral vision, the wider our … Continue reading

Upside Down Analysis

Just after the 41 minute mark in this video of a talk he gave at the Aspen Ideas Festival this year, entitled “The Psychological Foundations of the Culture War (or, How “Liberal” Became a Dirty Word) Jonathan Haidt made a comment that I emphatically disagree with. In this post I suggest why Haidt’s comment might … Continue reading

The Mike Romano Story

This story is excerpted from page 203 through the first paragraph of page 208 of the book Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. This story is brilliant in that it expresses an idea that is central to the thesis of The Independent Whig: Morality is a … Continue reading

I Support Viewpoint Diversity


A politically diverse group of social scientists, natural scientists, humanists, and other scholars who want to improve our academic disciplines and universities. We share a concern about a growing problem: the loss or lack of “viewpoint diversity.” When nearly everyone in a field shares the same political orientation, certain ideas become orthodoxy, dissent is discouraged, and errors can go unchallenged.

An Interpretation of Jonathan Haidt’s Moral Foundations Theory

This sidebar lists a series of posts which together make up an essay relating Moral Foundations Theory to today's politics, and even a little history, as viewed through The Independent Whig's six-foundation moral lens.


Venn Diagram of Liberal and Conservative Traits and Moral Foundations and