Staff Picks: Reading Recommendations

If you’re in need of a reading recommendation for the long weekend, you’ve come to the right place! Check out our latest staff selection. Happy reading!

Michael Schaefer

You consider yourself an informed citizen: you’re well read on current events, and you’ve been trained in logic and argumentation. But, when discussing politics online, it doesn’t seem like you have ever changed anyone’s mind. In fact, an echo chamber has emerged in your social media environment: the conservatives and liberals have circled their wagons and are only sharing posts and replies with each other. Why can’t they see things the way we see things? Are they stupid? Morally bankrupt?

In The Righteous Mind (Pantheon, 2012),  Jonathan Haidt dispels our assumption that intellectual reasoning is the basis for our morality. We didn’t gain our moral sense by reading ethical theory. Rather, the moral instincts all humans possess evolved over millennia, and all humans have the same moral intuitions: care/harm, fairness/cheating, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation. Our individual differences—whether we tend to be liberal or conservative—are products of our individual experiences with and reactions to cultural diversity or homogeneity, social inclusion or exclusion, and authoritarian or permissive parenting. To change others’ minds, Haidt suggests, we must understand their moral instincts and trigger emotive rather than cognitive dissonance.

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