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From Haidt’s social intuitionist perspective, “this process is no different from the psychological comfort that liberals attain in moralizing their empathic responses or that social conservatives attain in moralizing their connection to their groups.”
I find Haidt’s account of the birth of libertarian morality fairly convincing. But as a social psychologist, Haidt fails to discuss what is probably the most important and intriguing fact about libertarian morality. It changed history by enabling at least a portion of humanity to escape our natural state of abject poverty. Libertarian morality, by rising above and rejecting primitive moralities embodied in the universalist collectivism of left-liberals and the tribalist collectivism of conservatives, made the rule of law, freedom of speech, religious tolerance, and modern prosperity possible. Liberals and conservatives may love people more than do libertarians, but love of liberty is what leads to true moral and economic progress.
Ronald Bailey is Reason's science correspondent. His book Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution is now available from Prometheus Books.