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Moral Politics : How Liberals and Conservatives Think Paperback – May 1, 2002

ISBN-13: 097-1487840178 ISBN-10: 0226467716 Edition: Second Edition

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Moral Politics : How Liberals and Conservatives Think + Don't Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate--The Essential Guide for Progressives + The Little Blue Book: The Essential Guide to Thinking and Talking Democratic
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 471 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; Second Edition edition (May 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226467716
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226467719
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"[An] unusual mix of judicious scholarship, tendentious journalism and inflammatory wake-up call." - Editors' Recommendation, San Francisco Chronicle; "Lakoff, the cognitive linguist, understands 'how' you understand. In Moral Politics, [he] deftly applies that seemingly arcane understanding to the heart of American politics.... His commitment is strong and deep, but his language is far from the rhetoric usually associated with political partisanship.... Even those who disagree with him will profit deeply from encountering his challenging ideas." - Paul Rosenberg, Christian Science Monitor; "Lakoff's stunning book opens a whole new understanding of public discourse in America. Both conservatives and liberals have much to learn from this work." - Robert Bellah, University of California, Berkeley

From the Inside Flap

In Moral Politics, the first full-scale application of cognitive science to politics, George Lakoff analyzes the unconscious worldviews of liberals and conservatives, explaining why they are at odds over so many seemingly unrelated issues-like taxes, abortion, regulation, and social programs. The differences, Lakoff argues, are not mere matters of partisanship, but arise from radically different conceptions of morality and ideal family life-meaning that family and morality are at the heart of American politics, in ways that are far from obvious. For this edition, Lakoff adds a preface and an afterword explaining how "moral politics" makes sense of events like the impeachment of Bill Clinton and the 2000 presidential election.

More About the Author

George Lakoff is Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, where he has taught since 1972. He previously taught at Harvard and the University of Michigan. He graduated from MIT in 1962 (in Mathematics and Literature) and received his PhD in Linguistics from Indiana University in 1966. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Don't Think of an Elephant!, among other works, and is America's leading expert on the framing of political ideas.

George Lakoff updates may be followed on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+. Find these links, a complete bibliography, and more at http://georgelakoff.com

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

440 of 472 people found the following review helpful By J. Grattan VINE VOICE on July 10, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Political positions are usually cast as being either "liberal" or "conservative." But what is the basis of liberalism or conservatism? How is it that conservatives, disapproving of big government, can support rolling up large deficits or extending "welfare" to corporations. Where is the logic? According to the author, the explanation lies in morality. What best explains the politics of conservatives and liberals is their fundamentally different moral worldviews. Those views are grounded in models of family morality.
The "Strict Father" model of family morality that conservatives subscribe to is based on the hierarchical authority of the father who sets and enforces rules of behavior. Children are expected to learn self-discipline, self-reliance, and respect for legitimate authority. Obedience is emphasized; questioning of authority is little tolerated. Governmental social programs are seen by conservatives as rewarding a lack of self-discipline, of failing to becoming self-reliant. However, spending for the preservation of the moral order, for protection of the "nation as family," whether it is for defense or for building more prisons, is morally required.
Liberals, on the other hand, subscribe to a "Nurturant Parent" model. Children become responsible, self-disciplined, and self-reliant through being cared for, respected, and, in turn, caring for others. Open communications is emphasized; even the questioning of authority by children is seen as positive. Desired behavior is not obtained through punishment. Empathy and a regard for fair treatment are priorities in this model. Social programs are seen by liberals as helping both individuals and the greater society. The maintenance of fairness is a priority for government.
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91 of 98 people found the following review helpful By audrey TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
George Lakoff has done some important work in the cognitive sciences, the dominant psychological paradigm, which contends, unlike earlier behaviorist thought, that the brain does not merely respond to phenomena in a simple stimulus-response reaction, but rather processes information, adding form and context before outputting a response.
Lakoff posits first that we often think of our country as a family, secondly that conservatives think of the ideal family as one with a Strong Father (stressing authority and obedience) and that liberals think of the ideal family as having Nurturant Parents (stressing communication and self-reliance), and contends furthermore that people extend these attitudes about family and government to their political philosophy. He goes on to explain and predict liberal and conservative thinking, sometimes even contradictory thinking, on the death penalty, corporate welfare, conservation, abortion, gun control, fiscal responsibility, minority rights and other contemporary issues.
Lakoff writes clearly and makes coherent points. I thought this was an interesting and predictive way of discussing current political differences. A self-declared liberal who nevertheless maintains a reasonably objective authorial stance, Lakoff advises liberals to couch their political arguments in the same moral terms that conservatives have been using successfully for years. Liberals are neither immoral nor amoral, as often depicted by Tom Delay, Newt Gingrich and other extremist conservative; they need to make that known and enter the political discussion on those terms.
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218 of 244 people found the following review helpful By A. Mazzeo on March 20, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book very enlightening, but also a bit depressing.
I now understand exactly why it is pointless (as a liberal) to argue with conservatives about issues such as the deficit or corporate welfare, or about what I perceive as other inconsistencies within their own beliefs. Lakoff argues quite convincingly that our political views (liberal and conservative) are based not on some objective evaluation of the opposing sides of various issues, but on deeply internalized feelings about the rightness of one's "worldview." Once I understood his argument, a great many things started to make sense to me that had never made sense before. I was never comfortable with characterizing all conservatives as "stupid" or "selfish," but now I understand why, while they are not necessarily stupid or selfish, I can never, ever agree with them!
His prescription for liberals to "reframe" the issues by reclaiming the language of morality from conservatives is intriguing, but his two examples at the end of the book ("The Two-Tier Economy" and "The Ecology of Energy..."), while powerful and convincing to a liberal like myself, would, I think just elicit the usual eye-rolling from conservatives - but maybe that's not the point. I just wish he had devoted even more of the book to specific recommendations like these, instead of confining them to the Afterword.
On the whole, I would highly recommend this book. It expanded my thinking in a way that I did not expect, and that I believe will prove useful in staying sane during the coming election.
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