The first meetup for the Bill Moyers Discussion Group is Thursday, Feb 16th at Jorge’s restaurant (2203 Hancock Drive, Austin, TX). Come at 6:15 p.m. for drinks and dinner. At 7:00 we’ll watch and then discuss the Bill Moyers interview with social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (to be published March, 2012).
Haidt is a contributor to “Moral Foundations Theory” which identifies six “foundations” that are present, in varying degrees, in the moral systems and ideologies of different cultures. Together, Moyers and Haidt explore the application of Moral Foundations Theory to the ideological divide between liberals and conservatives. According to Haidt, liberals and conservatives score differently on the moral foundations scale of care/harm, fairness/cheating, liberty/oppression, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation.
In addition to the moral foundations score, Haidt identifies historical changes that have contributed to the liberal/conservative political divide. These changes are:
- Realignment of the South into the Republican Party, resulting in two parties that have a clear ideological divide, whereas in previous years both parties had liberals and conservatives.
- The World War II “great generation”, commendable for their civic engagement across differing political viewpoints, has been replaced by the baby boomers, who are more likely to approach political differences as a good/evil dichotomy.
- A movement away from politically diverse locales to “lifestyle enclaves” that limit the opportunity to become acquainted with and respect people with opposing political views.
Haidt’s theories may or may not be credible in their entirety, but his ideas merit consideration, and should generate some great discussion Thursday evening.
- For more information on Moral Foundations Theory, click here.
- If you want to see where you score on the moral foundations scale, click here.
- To find articles and scholarly work by Haidt, click here.
- If you want to join the Coffee Party Austin Bill Moyers Discussion Group meetup, click here.
- The Bill Moyers website is available here.