Saturday, September 24, 2011

Born Democrat; Born Republican?

A couple of days ago, my co-blogger, Jim Levy, mentioned the old realist saying that a judge's decision depends on what he ate for breakfast.  Johathan Haidt, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, disagrees, declaring that our political dispositions are at least partially innate (a partially inheritable personality trait).  He writes,

"People vote Republican because Republicans offer "moral clarity"—a simple vision of good and evil that activates deep seated fears in much of the electorate. Democrats, in contrast, appeal to reason with their long-winded explorations of policy options for a complex world."

Haidt is one of the most important scientists working in moral psychology today.  The most accessible version of his ideas can be found here.  He also has a website here.

As I have said in the past, it is very important to have the proper behavioral model to fully understand law.  Haidt and others have made significant advances in understanding human behavior, and we in law need to be familiar with their writings.


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