Here’s an interesting paper co-authored by Jonathan Haidt. Also, here is a good accompanying article in The New Yorker. The problem though with all the discussion is that the terms “conservative” and “liberal” and their supposed practical politics correlates “Republican” and “Democrat” are meaningless. When push comes to shove, self-ascribed or pejorative usage of these terms, flounder. People invoke these labels as if necessary and sufficient conditions can be specified, oblivious to what Michael Freeden called ideological morphology, something Percy understood. As I repeatedly say, epistemology not ideology.
Here’s a review from NDPR — notwithstanding the reviewer’s criticisms, this may well be a useful update to a longstanding, and often infertile debate.
The traditional opposition between social wholes and individuals rings a bit hollow to contemporary ears, not only because the poles of the opposition are only vaguely or ambiguously conceived, nor solely because one suspects that they are hardly mutually exclusive, but also because this opposition doesn’t include, within the scope of potentially relevant factors it considers, those that are non-human or sub-personal (such as, for instance, human biology, ecology, and artifacts and technology). What happens in human affairs is very plausibly constrained, enabled, and affected by a combination of factors classifiable as ecological, biological, and technological, in addition to “individual” and “social.” Since the first three kinds of factors operate in ways that cross-cut the individual-social distinction, and (on some conceptions of the individual or the social) are not included within the framework of that distinction at all, the inherited individualism-holism opposition, and the traditional question of the reducibility or non-reducibility of the social to the individual, are problematic in a way that most contributors to the volume never address.
Check out the latest (and last) raft of papers from the soon to be defunct SIEO now hosted under auspices of C+T:
Symposium on Luigino Bruni’s The Genesis and Ethos of the Market
Symposium on Gary Chartier’s Anarchy and Legal Order
Symposium on Deborah Stevenson’s The City