Friday, December 08, 2017
Major papers on the psychology of libertarians: does lack of interest in groups and lack of emotional empathy suggest moral issues?
“PLOS One” has published a major study on the psychology of libertarians, by Ravi Iyer, Spasenna Koleva, Jesse Graham, Peter Ditto, and Jonathan Haidt, “Understanding Libertarian Morality: The Psychological Dispositions of Self-Identified Libertarians, link.
Libertarians, it says, tend to be more individualistic. They tend to be less interested in involuntary connections to other people, either vertically (as demanded by conservative morality) or horizontally, empathizing with people in various intersectional oppressed groups, as in leftist liberalism. They believe that personal well-being should be proportional to effort, but not necessarily equal (in the sense of remedying inherited inequality). They tend to believe people should have the freedom to use what they already have without interference from others, but not to feel entitled to take from others who have more because of privilege.
Righteous mind, in a link shared by James Damore on Twitter today, summarizes the paper here. Libertarians place more emphasis on logical consistency than on emotion. It ends to be associated with cis masculinity (as among gay libertarians).
I would also read Yuval Levin’s “Taking the Long Way: Disciplines of the Soul Are the Basis of a Liberal Society” (link) from Oct. 2014 where Levin notes the limits that libertarianism can accept on remedying past oppression while letting people use what they have. David Brooks picked up on this essay with a recent piece “The Elites Still Don’t Get It”, where society is not reproducing individuals who can accept covenant with others or even accept needed connections across gulf, driving the less well-off into tribalism and resentment politics.