This is a terrific article: The Believer – Interview with Jonathan Haidt
Haidt makes some thought-provoking points: the evolutionary origins of morality; why some people find some things repugnant and others not; the difference between moral pluralism and moral relativism; and other great stuff.
He also reminds us not to objectify people with whom we may not agree, and not to make too many assumptions (usually to our own detriment):
First, it would help if liberals understood conservatives better. If I have a mission in life, it is to convince people that everyone is morally motivatedâ€”everyone except for psychopaths. Everyone else is morally motivated. Liberals need to understand that conservatives are motivated by more than greed and hatred. And Americans and George Bush in particular need to understand that even terrorists are pursuing moral goods. One of the most psychologically stupid things anyone ever said is that the 9/11 terrorists did this because they hate our freedom. Thatâ€™s just idiotic. Nobody says: â€œTheyâ€™re free over there. I hate that. I want to kill them.â€ They did this because they hate us, theyâ€™re angry at us for many reasons, and terrorism and violence are â€œmoralâ€ actions, by which I donâ€™t mean morally right, I mean morally motivated.
Some people will read Haidt and immediately dismiss him because they reject a scientific (i.e. evolutionarily based) point of view on matters of human morality and ethics. But whatever. That’d be too bad, because it actually gives some solid, rational reasons for the “left” to be a lot more tolerant and understanding of the “right.” (Even if they don’t agree.)