Pondering the South African Memesphere – Looking for the Good in Everything header image 2

Humans Need the Threat of Punishment

April 19th, 2009 · Posted by Hugo · 6 Comments

This brilliant TED talk by Jonathan Haidt talks about five human moral foundations. Pointing out how these foundations are emphasized differently by conservatives, he invites liberals to take the blue pill, to step outside of their “moral matrix”, and learn to understand the bigger picture of human morality from an anthropological perspective. And it also contains one little snippet about a study “proving” the meme that I turned into my post title.

[TED Talk – Jonathan Haidt]

Ben-Jammin also shared two links that are related to this video. For those that prefer text (hello bandwidth starved South Africa, amongst others):


and then a more scholarly paper, in pdf format (which was written in MS Word, how immoral! 😉 ):

When morality opposes justice:
Conservatives have moral intuitions that liberals may not recognize

I have not read the first link, other than scanning over it to let my eye catch a snippet where Haidt even dares to take on The Philosopher Himself 😛 , and I haven’t read the scholarly paper either — the TED talk was sufficient for encouraging the writing this post, and could be sufficient for sparking some discussion on whether the threat of hell is of use to humanity. Other discussions related to the material are also more than welcome.

Categories: Culture · Religion and Science
Tags: · · · · · ·

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ben-Jammin' // Apr 21, 2009 at 3:49 am

    That was an awesome 19 minute video.

  • 2 Pieter // Apr 22, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    “bandwidth starved south africans” yeah that sums it up.

  • 3 Ben-Jammin' // Apr 28, 2009 at 3:54 am

    Another article, 4 pages long, very good, not much new:

    …”I see liberalism and conservatism as opposing principles that work well when in balance,” he says, noting that authority needs to be both upheld (as conservatives insist) and challenged (as liberals maintain). “It’s a basic design principle: You get better responsiveness if you have two systems pushing against each other. As individuals, we are very bad at finding the flaws in our own arguments. We all have a distorted perception of reality.”

    Spend some time reading Haidt, and chances are you’ll begin to view day-to-day political arguments through a less-polarized lens. Should the Guantanamo Bay prison be closed? Of course, say liberals, whose harm/fairness receptors are acute. Not so fast, argue conservatives, whose finely attuned sense of in-group loyalty points to a proactive attitude toward outside threats…

  • 4 Bendul // Apr 29, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    TED is frikin awesome. ek het al soveel belaglike goeie talks beleef!

  • 5 gerhard // May 1, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    a lil bit like taking a resultant variable from a system and then declaring all systems that have the similar tendency as part of some over arching rule set. it may be a nice short hand like using ‘new math’ but when trying to actually achieve a understanding in a greater context it can only lead to hindrance. I call this putting things into boxes for sake of having boxes. remember things have a tendency to evolve out of things without goals. so alot of it just doesn’t actually make sense. It may make sense as to what it does , but not operation nor how it came it about. The blind watchmaker 🙂 Why we’re so different is because we’ve lent the watchmaker our eyes and he’s given us our minds in exchange. Our collaborations don’t just stop with us, we exhibit our work in diseases, other animals , plants. hell, take your pick. I guess i’d have to read more into this guys work to truly form an opinion but so far i would put this on a shelf close to homeopathy .

    i can’t help wonder if what this guy is attempting is a little like describing and exploiting an algorithm for mp3 conversion by listening to the song and making . he may be able to say that it’s mp3 and that something has been lost but not about the specific mechanics or ‘greater implications for us’ .

  • 6 Hugo // May 6, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    gerhard, I find your comment extremely abstract, to the point of not having a clue what you are on about. Could you give some more concrete examples? Some more substance? More data? Less “hand-waving”? 😉

    Consider the Guatanamo Bay prison example maybe. Do these “five boxes” he works with not provide you with a useful framework to help think and understand the arguments on both sides? Now give me one single example of how homoeopathy is that useful… I think that’s a terrible comparison to make.

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