Moral Foundations Theory is pioneered by psychologists Jonathan Haidt and Craig Joseph. At its core is the idea that there are a set of distinct and fundamental building blocks that can be used to describe moral behaviour.
There are 6 distinct moral foundations that influence moral behaviour :
- Care/harm for others (think – parental care)
- Fairness/cheating (think – mating strategy -> Maynard-Smith’s ‘sneaky fuckers’)
- Liberty/oppression (along the lines of appetite for change, for the new)
- Loyalty/betrayal (along the lines of group altruism)
- Authority/subversion (think – eusocial tendencies)
- Sanctity/degradation (think – cleanliness as a virtue)
Contrary to expectations, weightings for each of these 6 building blocks across large groups of people are not randomly distributed. When the presence of these moral building blocks is tested through questionnaires people tend to fall into a small number of distinct groups. The major liberal & conservative political groups show distinct differences in the weightings they attribute to each moral foundation. People with strongly liberal views heavily weight the 1st three of Care, Fairness & Liberty while those with conservative views tend to weight all equally.