In 2001 jonathan haidt, a psychologist at New York University, published a paper in Psychological Review delightfully entitled “The Emotional Dog and its Rational Tail”. He argued that when people make moral decisions, they are influenced by emotion, or what might also be termed intuition. They may think they are weighing evidence but in fact their decisions are made in the blink of an eye. The reasons they give afterwards merely reflect these emotions, like a dog wagging its tail.
Others have taken similar views. “Reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions,” wrote David Hume, a philosopher of the Scottish Enlightenment, in 1739. But the lessons of Mr Haidt’s essay are particularly apt at a time when lying has come to define politics more than usual.