Moral Politics: What Conservatives Know that Liberals Don't

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University of Chicago Press, 1996 - Philosophy - 413 pages
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What do conservatives know that liberals don't? According to George Lakoff, they know that American politics is about morality and the family. Moral Politics takes a fresh look at how we think and talk about politics and shows that political and moral ideas develop in systematic ways from our models of ideal families. Lakoff reveals how family-based moral values determine views on such diverse issues as crime, gun control, taxation, social programs, and the environment. He shows why it is consistent for conservatives to oppose subsidies for the poor but endorse them for business, or for liberals to oppose the death penalty but support abortion. He also explains why liberal and conservative stances contain the constellations of policies they do. Drawing on studies showing that we think in terms of metaphorical concepts, Lakoff analyzes the language of political discourse and finds it rife with metaphors. He shows how both liberals and conservatives link morality to politics through the concept of family. But they diverge in their opposing ideas of what an ideal family is. Conservative metaphors are united by the concept of a patriarchal family in which the parent's role is to develop self-discipline in the child by enforcing strict rules. By contrast, liberals view caring interaction in the family as the most effective means of creating competent and responsible children.

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About the author (1996)

George Lakoff is the 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. His academic career has been devoted to developing the field of cognitive lingusitics, the cognitive theory of metaphor, construction grammar, embodied conceptual systems, a neural theory of grammar, and the cognitive foundations of mathematics.

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