Research needed: Liberals + Forests = Sanctity?

According to Moral Foundations Theory, conservatives are much more attuned to sacredness or sanctity than liberals are. When I say this to liberals, they often use nature as a counter-example.

Are they wrong? Does cutting down a forest seem to violate fairness to liberals: you didn't plant that forest, so you can't cut it down. Does a forest seem in some way alive, so cutting down a forest lacks compassion to the forest itself?

Or have we found an edge case contradiction to Moral Foundations, where liberals do see sanctity, see a natural order that should not be violated?

  1. Is Moral Foundations theory wrong on sanctity? If you re-asked the survey questions about Moral Foundations, and instead of asking about desecrating flags and incest that doesn't lead to children, asked about violating nature, would liberals be the ones who most strongly believed in sanctity?
  2. If you put cognitive-liberals and conservatives in MRI machines, liberals and conservatives seem likely to use the same part of their brains for compassion. Would the MRIs show that abortion and deforestation fired a sanctity response? Or would liberals show compassion for forests?
  3. Is nature an edge case? Do liberals believe in sanctity, fire a response for sanctity, only when they think of the subject as a subject, as an entity? In other words, only cognitive-conservatives have a moral foundation about desecrated symbols, ideas, or independent people making decisions about what would desecrate themselves. If a forest could clearcut itself, liberals would be ok with that. Since a forest can't protect itself, it becomes our job. Liberals cut off their sense of sanctity when another being consents for itself?

Moral Foundations doesn't mean people can't recognize a value. I can assess that Reagan was a skilled leader without personally valuing his leadership. I can see that a forest has a beauty that I might describe with words that evoke sanctity. So the question is, do I as a liberal feel the sanctity of a nature in a similar way to how conservatives feel the sanctity of a man and woman make a marriage?

The words we use can easily create limits to understanding. What is sanctity, and how does it relate to compassion? Is a person who believes that every human being deserves medical care and a roof over their head, who believes no crime should be answered with the death penalty, expressing a sanctity-within-humanity? Animal rights very clearly and rather simply extends this to other beings that have feelings. We can use words like sacredness or sanctity for these feelings. Is a forest also receiving compassion from the same place? Is a belief that government sanction of homosexuality can violate the natural order coming from the same value foundation or not?


I've often encountered this when talking about unspoiled nature, and also GMOs. Haidt mentions that the left cares about food sanctity: GMOs are a fascinating case because many liberals who oppose GMOs don't trust that they are safe (harm foundation) but also seem to be responding on little evidence. (Whatever the real evidence is, I'm not discussing here -- most people don't know the real evidence and are responding from their intutions..)