Monday, June 1, 2009

Yer Doin' It Wrong

This piece seems quite appropriate for our consideration as bloggers (and readers of blogs). It provides an interesting (if liberal-biased) introduction to how the brain works and how our sense of disgust weighs heavily into moral judgments. When Aric talks about aesthetics, we're in this territory of morality and disgust.

Anyway, interesting reading, and it might wet your appetite for more...

I'm fascinated by the idea that the difference between liberal and conservative might come down to the sensitivity of our gag reflex.


Aric Clark said...

My experience in holding conversations across the liberal-conservative divide lend credence to the idea that there is much more at play than mere philosophical disagreement. Or is it less?

Doug Hagler said...

Depends on how much credence you lend to humans being rational creatures. I don't lend it all that much. Just going from me as a point of view, I'm not that rational - and I don't think that's a bad thing. Being purely rational would make me an awful chaplain and probably a pretty uninteresting person to be around in general. Not even a fictional character like Spock can maintain that kind of rationality and remain interesting.

The problem comes when we get all red in the face and start demanding that others pretend we are rational. Sure we are...sometimes. But it conforms with my intuitions about human nature to learn that the gag reflex correlates to political views. My experience of myself and others just isn't that we make astute reasonable choices most of the time. We make "ok" choices, but not because of something so limited and over-sold as rationality.

Aric Clark said...

This is also problematic though. I mean, if that guy on the other side of the debate is basically clinging to his position for unknowable gut instinct reasons then it makes it very hard to assess the validity of his views. (Or my own).

Jodie said...


Your thoughts on rule based ethics vs consequence based ethics were very insightful.

I see that all the time in decision making and problem solving situations, where large numbers of strong willed people look for the solution to vexing multifaceted problems:

Some people want to depend on rules. They work hard to find them, then they bet their lives on them. Others seem incapable of following rules. Every rule leads to a myriad of exceptions. The first group wants to make a plan and stick to it come hell or high water. The other group can't follow a map to the grocery store.

OK, I exaggerate to make a point.

But, I have also noted that people who are more rule based also tend to be politically conservative, while those who are consequence based tend to be more liberal.

In a society we need both voices. The consequence based group is more adaptive to changing circumstances. The rule base is more organized and efficient in a stable environment.

If we have a common purpose and mutual respect, we can work together as a team. Neither side can be given the exclusive upper hand. If that happens, the team looses. Families break up, companies collapse, churches fail, civil wars take place.

In the church, unfortunately, we have few ways of measuring the consequences of our actions and doctrines, except in the little things of life. So in general, non adaptive rule based organizations seem to proliferate.

Doctrines are all about rules.

But our society is changing rapidly. If the church does not adopt consequence based decision making strategies, it will collapse as an institution. Just as sure as going out in a tee shirt in Chicago in January will give you a chill.


Aric Clark said...

I agree, to a certain extent, that we need people of both types to contribute to society. Rules aren't inherently bad. We need rules. But even the most legalistic lawyer believes that the law is a means to an end - the end being a just society. In other words a law is only as good as the result if gets. It might actually be true that society would be better off without alcohol, but prohibition was a horribly failed experiment. Making a rule banning alcohol just spawned a whole bunch of detrimental illicit activity. So even if the rule was right (debatable, but stick with me) it had negative results and society is better off without that rule.

Jodie said...


I agree, but I'm not a conservative. Conservatives tend to believe that rules are their own virtue. "you got'a have rules"

BTW, to your original point, check out the article: