Jonathan Haidt and the Five Moral Senses

University of Virginia moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt delivered a talk on new advances in his field last week. The video and a transcript have been posted by Haidt whips us through centuries of moral thought, recent evolutionary psychology, and discloses which two papers every single psychology student should have to read.

I’ve been arguing for the last few years that we’ve got to expand our
conception of the moral domain, that it includes multiple moral
foundations, not just sugar and salt, and not just harm and fairness,
but a lot more as well. So, with Craig Joseph and Jesse Graham and Brian
Nosek, I’ve developed a theory called Moral Foundations Theory, which
draws heavily on the anthropological insights of Richard Shweder…

the five most important taste receptors of the moral mind are the
following…care/harm, fairness/cheating, group loyalty and betrayal,
authority and subversion, sanctity and degradation. And that moral
systems are like cuisines that are constructed from local elements to
please these receptors.

So, I’m proposing, we’re proposing, that these are the five best
candidates for being the taste receptors of the moral mind. They’re not
the only five. There’s a lot more. So much of our evolutionary
heritage, of our perceptual abilities, of our language ability, so much
goes into giving us moral concerns, the moral judgments that we have.
But I think this is a good starting point.

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