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Inside the Mind of a Libertarian

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The Cato Institute's Gene Healy writes:

"We libertarians tend to think of ourselves as a tiny, embattled sect, ignored when we're not reviled." But, he says, "...there's increasing interest in figuring out how this strange tribe thinks."

A new study, "Understanding Libertarian Morality," has some answers.

Healy says:

"Libertarian morality?" you say. "Isn't that an oxymoron, like 'military intelligence' or 'law school talent show'?" No, smartass, it isn't. "Libertarians are not amoral," Haidt and his colleagues report. (Whew!) We simply have "a unique moral-psychological profile."

He continues:

"Liberals and conservatives beat us handily on "agreeableness" and "extraversion." Libertarians tend to be dispassionate and cerebral, less likely to moralize based on gut reactions like disgust (one source, the authors suggest, of our disagreement with conservatives on social issues).

"We found strong support," they write, for the proposition that libertarians "will rely upon reason more — and emotion less — than will either liberals or conservatives." Blubbery Clintonian empathy isn't our bag, baby; we don't "feel your pain." Where "liberals have the most 'feminine' cognitive style ... libertarians have the most 'masculine.' " And where others often "rely on peripheral cues, such as how attractive or credible a speaker is," when formulating opinions, libertarians are more likely to pay "close attention to relevant arguments."

"Conservatives routinely outscore liberals on measures of self-reported happiness (getting to rub that in makes conservative pundits even happier). Alas, per Haidt, et al., "Libertarians appear to be less satisfied with their lives when compared to liberals and conservatives."

"The authors speculate that this may be due to relatively lower social connectedness: libertarians "score high on individualism, low on collectivism, and low on all other traits that involved bonding with, loving, or feeling a sense of common identity with others."

And now, for Healy's money quote:

"But I prefer the explanation offered by my friend John Hasnas in his essay, "What It Feels Like to Be a Libertarian." (First line? "I'll tell you: It feels bad.")"

Read the rest HERE.

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