Monday, May 14, 2012

Jon Haidt

Most of the time when a smart guy like Jon Haidt writes a book, the central objection to his argument is addressed preemptively in the book and/or quickly gets a vigorous discussion in roundtables and book reviews.

I didn't read a lot of praise and discussion about Jon Haidt's new book that argues (1) people based their politics and ethics on intuition, not reason which is, I think, a mainstream belief and (2) we can learn valuable lessons from other's moral intuitions to sharpen our moral intuitions and improve our reasoning as opposed to the mainstream position that the lesson is in how to manipulate people.

The idea that our moral intuitions can help us reason better is runs counter to my intuition. Why would our brains have involved good intuition on whether inflation targeting is a good response to a liquidity trap? But I haven't seen any summaries of Haidt's response and the specifics of what, exactly, I'm supposed to learn from conservatives.

I'm pretty sure that the answer is that Haidt's position is contradictory on a lot of points and if that is the case I don't want to read the book.

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