Influential social psychologist Dr. Jonathan Haidt gave a Ted Talk last Friday in which he discussed a new addition to his moral foundations theory.
Moral foundations theory, as Dr. Haidt describes it, is a theory which postulates that morality is made up of several elements and that there are individual differences in how these elements inform our ethics and politics.
In the past, Dr. Haidt has argued for the existence of six foundations: care, fairness, loyalty, authority, sanctity, and liberty. But towards the end of his Ted Talk, he proposed a radical seventh foundation.
“We cannot hope to understand the complexity of human morality unless we include ‘Hamilton’ as one of our moral foundations,” said Haidt.
“Previously, we believed that liberals were most sensitive to the care, fairness, and liberty foundations, while conservatives cared about all foundations more or less equally. But our recent anthropological field research has shown that not care, fairness, or liberty, but ‘Hamilton’ is the greatest predictor of liberal morality.”
Dr. Haidt went on to describe how he has been able to apply this finding in his moral psychology lab.
“When I wanted to see whether someone was a liberal or conservative, I usually ask them if incest is permissible. But now I just ask them what their favourite song from ‘Hamilton’ is, and if they can answer that question their political orientation is obvious.”
To end his talk, Dr. Haidt told the audience he had recently received a major research grant which he would put toward studying whether recognizing songs from “My Fair Lady” is predictive of right-wing authoritarianism.