As I write this there are 422 reviews posted on Amazon. Why another? It is because Jonathan Haidt has written a very important book. Using insights from psychology and evolutionary biology offers us some very clear-eyed thinking into the process of making moral judgements. For me Haidt clarified the way I actually think in a very organized manner and he explains, at least to me, why I have so many political differences with my liberal friends.
Haidt builds on the works of David Hume and Emile Durkheim among others along with the works of modern evolutionary biologists to argue that moral judgments are built on intuition and emotion as opposed to reason. In fact the smarter the person the better the person is in making after the fact rationalizations of their hard-wired emotional judgement according Haidt we all have our inner lawyer or press agent.
According to Haidt we have six primary moral matrices: care/harm, liberty/oppression,fairness/cheating, loyalty/betrayal,authority/subversion and sanctity/degradation. Libertarians largely make moral judgement on the basis of liberty/oppression and liberals uses the first three with special emphasis on care/harm. On the other hand classical conservatives and social conservatives utilize all six. To them institutions really matter. Haidt analogizes this type of thinking to taste buds. Do we have only one in our mouth, three or perhaps six.
He also notes that liberals and conservatives are both for "fairness." However liberals view fairness as equality of result while conservatives view fairness as reward for effort or as the the Bible suggests the right to enjoy the fruits of your labor. That is why smart liberals who promote increasing the minimum wage argue that rewards the work efforts of hard working people at the bottom of the wage scale rather than arguing they should be paid more because wage differentials are too wide.
On a personal note Haidt recounts his own evolution from being a card carrying secular liberal to being somewhat of a conservative. Note he will not fess up to being a Republican. His journey is similar to what I encountered in the late 1970s to the mid-1980s.
Finally I thought so much of this book that I bought copies for my three children as holiday presents!
The Amazon URL is: http://www.amazon.com/review/R4LEVLU8NA3N4?ref_=pe_620760_65501210