Positive Points 1) The author provides evidence for the existence of six moral foundations, organized prior to experience, that humans have, that is, these moral foundations are in some sense innate and not constructed socially. 2) He provides evidence that reason is better seen as rationalization countering a 200 year misconception of the role of reason. 3) He provides evidence for group evolution where cooperation increases survival.
Negative Points 1) He suggests that “shared intentionality” is the key to our superiority and other primate species lack this. That may be true of primate species, but I don’t think it is true of all species, in particular, crows. See research by John Marzluff. 2) He disagrees with Stephen Jay Gould who maintained that human genetic evolution has stopped. In its place he promotes a “gene-culture coevolution”. If Haidt is right he should be able to find today isolated human populations that differ genetically on the moral foundations he has discovered. I think his group approach to evolution would fit better into Nile Eldredge’s Darwinian theory of Punctuated Equilibrium which Gould also supported. See Eldredge, “Eternal Ephemeral”. 3) He describes a two level approach to evolution. There is a selfish individual level along with a cooperative group level. I think maintaining two levels is no longer necessary given his research work. Selfishness is in the eye of the beholder. There are many groups from small family groups to national groups that individuals belong to. Natural selection cannot pick out individuals because it is not conscious like artificial selection. This suggests that it only works on groups who internally act for their own survival as groups.
My conclusion: Haidt’s Moral Foundation Theory provides valuable scientific evidence for innate moral foundations as he describes them, but the theory justifying how these foundations evolved needs to be revised.
I was encouraged to read this book based on an internet discussion and I borrowed the ebook through Amazon from the library.