The Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives (Part Two)

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This is a follow up to the original "Moral Roots" discussion held back in August (


This is a special event co-sponsored with our friends at 103 Great Ideas Conversations ( The discussions will be moderated by Shrikant and Thomas.

EVENT FORMAT: a short presentation by one of the event hosts. We'll then breakup into a small group of about six attendees and explore these themes in depth. About 45 minutes later, we'll change up and rotate, so that each member has a chance to discuss in a new group.

Questions to be explored:

1) What are the six Moral Foundations across cultures identified by Jonathan Haidt and what do they mean?(Care, Fairness, Loyalty, Authority, Purity & Liberty)

2) Is there a systematic difference in Moral Foundations of those who seek to preserve the values already achieved (roughly speaking, Conservatives) and those who eagerly seek to achieve new values (roughly speaking, Liberals)? If so what is it?

3) How do people with different Moral Foundations typically interact? How can we use the Moral Foundations Theory to foster mutual understanding between Liberals & Conservatives?

4) What do you find useful or interesting about Moral Foundations theory?

The Six Moral Foundations:

1) Care: cherishing and protecting others; opposite of harm.

2) Fairness or proportionality: rendering justice according to shared rules; opposite of cheating.

3) Loyalty or in-group: standing with your group, family, nation; opposite of betrayal.

4) Authority or respect: submitting to tradition and legitimate authority; opposite of subversion.

5) Sanctity or purity: abhorrence for disgusting things, foods, actions; opposite of degradation.

6) Liberty: Freedom from coercion; opposite of oppression

To prepare for the discussion:
1) Watch this short TED Talks video by Jonathan Haidt:

2) Read the Wikipedia entry on Moral Foundation Theory:

3) For more in depth look, check out Jonathan Haidt’s book The Righteous Mind


IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: The NYCPF is a nonpartisan organization. As such, we do not promote or endorse any particular ideologies or political parties. Rather, our aim is to foster independent, critical thinking by exchange of views with the highest level of intellectual rigor. While some -- if not many -- issues go beyond the conventional Left-Right paradigm, for the purposes of this discussion, we'll apply this two-sided binary distinction (sorry Libertarians and Independents).