2019-03-16

Libertarianism And The Light Triad

Most people are familiar with the so-called "Dark Triad" of psychological traits that are sometimes used to define people as being evil. That triad of traits is: narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy.

Now, a new study seeks to define a "Light Triad," three traits associated with particularly good people and prosocial outcomes. Psychology Today reports:
The three subscales of the Light Triad Scale are conceptualized as follows:
Faith in Humanityor the belief that, generally speaking, humans are good.
Sample item: I think people are mostly good.
Humanismor the belief that humans across all backgrounds are deserving of respect and appreciation.
Sample Item: I enjoy listening to people from all walks of life.
Kantianismor the belief that others should be treated as ends in and of themselves, and not as pawns in one’s own game.
Sample item: When I talk to people, I am rarely thinking about what I want from them.
Whether these three factors truly comprise a "Light Triad" is certainly a matter of opinion, but it's hard to argue that anyone who significantly expresses these traits is anything other than prosocial.

What I found most interesting about this proposed "Light Triad" is how closely it corresponds to run-of-the-mill libertarianism. Libertarianism in the classical tradition is based on the belief that human beings can figure out tough problems emergently, without the aid of government decrees to force it to happen; that's faith in humanity by anyone's measure. Libertarians also believe deeply in a profound sense of human dignity (via freedom) and respect (via equality); and that's humanism through-and-through. Finally, freedom in the libertarian sense of the word is steeply rooted in the belief that human beings are not slaves and should not be forced to do anything. We often contrast this to the implications of things like socialized health care, which seem to suggest that patients are entitled by right to the labor of doctors and nurses. In other words, we object to such things because we don't think doctors and nurses ought to be treated as means to someone else's end. And that is the essence of Kantianism.

Naturally, none of this should imply that libertarian individuals should score high on the "Light Triad." All I mean to suggest is that libertarianism is consistent with the "Light Triad," and thus we can consider it prosocial, at least by that measure.

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