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Do you feel liberal or conservative?

May 28, 2009

In the wake of the Sotomayor nomination, with so little yet known about her legal decisions and, therefore, her principles and convictions, the forceful responses of her supporters and detractors may be more the result of visceral feelings about her rather than thoughtful critiques. Liberals and Conservatives, both, approach new developments via the already well-established lens through which they view the world. Nicholas Kristof has an interesting piece about how our intuitive perception of the world affects our political identification. An excerpt:

The larger point is that liberals and conservatives often form judgments through flash intuitions that aren’t a result of a deliberative process. The crucial part of the brain for these judgments is the medial prefrontal cortex, which has more to do with moralizing than with rationality. If you damage your prefrontal cortex, your I.Q. may be unaffected, but you’ll have trouble harrumphing.

One of the main divides between left and right is the dependence on different moral values. For liberals, morality derives mostly from fairness and prevention of harm. For conservatives, morality also involves upholding authority and loyalty — and revulsion at disgust.

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