Sunday, June 1, 2008

Political Views and Global Warming

Some time ago I was lamenting how it seemed impossible to change the opinion of one of my friends about existence and causes of global warming. Around the same time, I posted some interesting material I'd found about people's political leanings trumping their critical thinking abilities.

Add to that all of this, David Roberts at GristMill quotes a new analysis of survey data. The gist is that Democrats get more concerned about global warming as they learn more, Republicans tend to be no more concerned, regardless of how informed they say that they are.
Here's my one-sentence diagnosis: Democrats are more likely to be moral
relativists and epistemological realists; Republicans are more likely
to be the opposite.
I was once called a moral relativist in a discussion about social customs around the world. I don't remember the exact practices that were being debated, but the implication of the very republican, very right leaning accuser were that this was a bad thing. I still don't understand why moral relativism is a problem. This is not to say that I think that many cultural practices are okay, just that I don't hold that there is a single objective moral truth for all 6.5 billion of us. Some practices are barbaric and seem to me wrong, but it isn't mine, or anyone else's place to judge moral truths. This is also not to say it is wrong to encourage groups to change their practices to something that seems more morally right or humane. Female genital mutilation comes to mind as a horrible practice that ought to be stopped, but not by vilifying its practitioners, rather by education and encouragement to change.

Interesting digression.