The Corner

Truth vs. Social Justice

I have in these pages sometimes referred to Heterodox Academy, an organization of scholars devoted to intellectual diversity in the social sciences.  Recently Jonathan Haidt — a prominent member of Heterodox  — lectured at Yale University on the ongoing transformation of universities from organizations devoted to Truth to organizations devoted to social justice.

Haidt is a social psychologist who has written extensively on how human beings reach conclusions, especially on issues of morality.  His book The Righteous Mind argued that people reach conclusions not primarily through reason but through moral intuition developed apart from reason; then they use their reason to rationalize the conclusions already reached.

Haidt’s Yale lecture explains what is happening on campuses today as thoroughly as anything I’ve seen. It’s long but moves quickly and covers a lot. Haidt explains why intellectual diversity is necessary to truth, why a “culture of victimhood” has developed on campus, the danger of trigger warnings, the new blasphemy in the higher academy, and why social justice is often so unjust.  I urge readers to watch it.  It will take a lot less time than a Presidential debate, and Haidt and his colleagues at Heterodox are breaking important ground.

Jim Talent is a former U.S. senator for Missouri and a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

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