The Illusion of Public Reason

Monday April 09, 2018 (3:30 PM – 5:00 PM)

Peter H. Ditto

Professor of Psychology & Social Behavior
University of California, Irvine

Morality is something we feel more so than think. This emerging view that judgments about right and wrong are grounded in and organized by affect and intuition has important implications for understanding political beliefs and behavior. In this talk, I present evidence that the differing moral intuitions of liberals and conservatives shape their reasoning in ways that lead each side to see their own political views as principled, logical, and effective and the other side’s views as hypocritical, illogical, and counterproductive. This tendency is found on both sides of the political aisle and helps account for the “alternative facts” endorsed by Red and Blue America. Motivated reasoning cloaks moral conflict in a veneer of public reason (Rawls, 1971) such that politicians and pundits make data-based arguments for preferred policy positions that are little more than moral justifications wrapped in factual clothing. I conclude that this fundamental tendency for people to confuse what they value with what they believe to be true is a key contributor to the corrosive political polarization that plagues contemporary American politics

Video recording:
The Illusion of Public Reason

Bias is Bipartisan (in press PPS) Dist.pdf
Ditto & Liu 2016 Claremont Chapter Final.pdf

If you would like to meet with the speaker, please click here to contact Anna Massey.