Jonathan Haidt: Reasons Do Matter – NYTimes.com

A good piece by Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind, on the relative power between intuition and reason. Worth while reading and working through the above diagram which any number of examples fall into.

What I found most interesting were efforts to create space for a more open and civil discussion among people of different views, rooted in intuition, in contrast to the tendency, accelerated by social media, to hang out with people of similar views. Some inter-faith work accomplishes this by doing concrete activities together, rather than focussing on theological and other differences.

One of the issues I am most passionate about is political civility. I co-run a site at http://www.CivilPolitics.org where we define civility as “the ability to disagree with others while respecting their sincerity and decency.” We explain our goals like this: “We believe this ability [civility] is best fostered by indirect methods (changing contexts, payoffs and institutions) rather than by direct methods (such as pleading with people to be more civil, or asking people to sign civility pledges).” In other words, we hope to open up space for civil disagreement by creating contexts in which elephants (automatic processes and intuitions) are calmer, rather than by asking riders (controlled processes, including reasoning) to try harder.

We are particularly interested in organizations that try to create a sense of community and camaraderie as a precondition for political discussions. For example, a group called To the Village Square holds bipartisan events for citizens and community leaders in Tallahassee, Fla. They usually eat together before talking about politics — an effort to push a primitive cooperation button by breaking bread together. They talk a lot about their common identity as Tallahasseans. These are all efforts to manipulate participants — to change the warp of the epistemological table so that the horizontal dimension isn’t so steeply tilted, which opens up the possibility that good arguments offered by friends will move people, at least a trace, along the vertical dimension.

Jonathan Haidt: Reasons Do Matter – NYTimes.com.

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