Liberalism & Conservatism

This category contains 20 posts

The Liberal Elephant

Haidt’s work has shown that the liberal morality is built mostly on the foundation of care. Humans are mammals, and as such we spend a great deal of our lives rearing and caring for our young. We have an innate predisposition to care for others and to prevent one another from coming to harm. To … Continue reading

The Conservative Elephant

The same studies which show that the liberal morality rests on a small number of moral foundations, show that the conservative morality is built on all of them in equal balance. It includes care, fairness, and liberty, just as the liberal morality does, but it does not end there. It also depends equally on a … Continue reading

Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft: Conservatism is the Seedbed of Liberalism

When there’s food on the table there are many problems. When there’s no food on the table there is only one problem. – Proverb I believe that the six-foundation morality – “all the tools in the toolbox” – puts food on the table by allowing humans to create cooperative societies. Those societies then provide the … Continue reading

Liberal and Conservative – Individual and Community

It follows from the liberal employment of  primarily, the foundation of harm/care, and less so, fairness/cheating, and liberty/oppression, that liberals tend to be concerned almost exclusively with the individual.  In “Liberals and Conservatives Rely on Different Sets of Moral Foundations” (1) Haidt describes the harm/care and fairness/cheating foundations to be at the core of liberalism, … Continue reading

Liberal and Conservative – Literal and Conceptual

The limited employment of moral foundations in the liberal moral matrix and cognitive tool kit, and the liberal faith in reason as the arbiter of truth, together tend to lead liberals to interpret things literally. Their positions tend to center on objective analysis of discreet facts.  The liberal view on religion is an example of … Continue reading

Liberty, Equality, Justice, and Fairness Mean Different Things in Different Moral Matrices

The moral matrix we live in shapes our perceptions of the world, and even our understanding of the meanings of words.  For example, Haidt introduced the Liberty/Oppression moral foundation in the talk he gave at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.  He discussed how the six-foundation and three-foundation moralities attach different connotations … Continue reading

Protecting the Weak

Conventional wisdom says that liberalism protects the weak better than conservatism does.  I submit that this conventional wisdom is unwise, and in fact, the wrong way around. Haidt explains in his TED talk that the most successful attempts at creating human societies have come when people used “all the tools in the toolbox.”  I submit … Continue reading

Do Liberals Really “Care” More?

In Moral Psychology and the Misunderstanding of Religion Haidt makes the following observation about liberal morality: But if you try to apply this two-foundation [i.e., liberal] morality to the rest of the world, you either fail or you become Procrustes. Most traditional societies care about a lot more than harm/care and fairness/justice. Why do so … 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

What is Liberalism?

(This post is an excerpt, with some minor updating, from the longer essay in the post What Is Rick Perry Talking About? ) What is Liberalism? Liberalism is the morality which is built on the two moral foundations of Care/Harm and Proportionality/Cheating (i.e. fairness), and eschews the others – as illustrated in this 19 minute … 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