The Common Good

In the Stacks, March 29, 2012

Photo by Tischenko Irina/Shutterstock.com.
Photo by Tischenko Irina/Shutterstock.com.

Among my must reads are the Sunday New York Times Book Review and other book reviews I come across in various media outlets. There are too many books being published that I would love to read, but just don’t have the time. So, I rely on reading book reviews as one way of keeping in touch with what’s being written.

Here are my picks in this week’s books of interest:

The Righteous Mind

By Jonathan Haidt, Reviewed by William Saletan

A psychologist argues that people base decisions on moral intuition, not reason.

To the question many people ask about politics — Why doesn’t the other side listen to reason? — Haidt replies: We were never designed to listen to reason. … The problem isn’t that people don’t reason. They do reason. But their arguments aim to support their conclusions, not yours. Reason doesn’t work like a judge or teacher, impartially weighing evidence or guiding us to wisdom. It works more like a lawyer or press secretary, justifying our acts and judgments to others. … So if you want to change people’s minds, Haidt concludes, don’t appeal to their reason. Appeal to reason’s boss: the underlying moral intuitions whose conclusions reason defends. …  Haidt … and his colleagues have compiled a catalog of six fundamental ideas that commonly undergird moral systems: care, fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority and sanctity.

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