Jack Blumenau, Benjamin E Lauderdale, “Liberals and Conservatives Rely on Very Similar Sets of Foundations When Comparing Moral Violations”

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Moral Foundations Theory (MFT) aims to explain the origins of and variation in human moral reasoning. Applications in political science have revealed differences in the degree to which liberals and conservatives explicitly endorse five core moral foundations of care, fairness, authority, loyalty and sanctity. However, differences in self-reported assessments of the moral relevance of each foundation do not imply that citizens with different political orientations respond to concrete scenarios based on different moral intuitions. We introduce a new approach for measuring the implicit importance of the 5 moral foundations by asking survey respondents from the UK and the US to compare pairs of vignettes which describe violations relevant to each foundation. We analyse responses to these comparisons using a hierarchical Bradley-Terry model which allows us to evaluate the relative importance of each foundation to individuals with different political perspectives. Our results suggest that, despite prominent claims to the contrary, voters on the left and the right of politics share broadly similar moral intuitions.


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