100 books like Moral Politics

By George Lakoff,

Here are 100 books that Moral Politics fans have personally recommended if you like Moral Politics. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World

Ronnie Janoff-Bulman Author Of The Two Moralities: Conservatives, Liberals, and the Roots of Our Political Divide

From my list on the psychology behind our politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

A university professor for 40 years (now emerita), I focused my most recent research on moral psychology. I am also a political junkie, so perhaps it is no surprise that I have combined these two interests. As both a social psychologist and political psychologist, I have conducted numerous studies on the moral underpinnings of our political ideologies. In addition to two books, I have published over 90 papers, many devoted to morality and/or politics, and I was awarded a generous three-year National Science Foundation grant to study the two moralities that are discussed in my book.   

Ronnie's book list on the psychology behind our politics

Ronnie Janoff-Bulman Why did Ronnie love this book?

Michele Gelfand is an outstanding cultural psychologist who has studied societies across the globe.

In this fascinating book she draws on her own cross-cultural research to distinguish between what she labels “tight” and “loose” societies. Although the book does not focus on politics, Gelfand’s distinction between cultures that loosely versus tightly adhere to social norms nevertheless provides important insights into differences between the political left and right within our own society.   

By Michele Gelfand,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rule Makers, Rule Breakers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A groundbreaking analysis of what used to be an impenetrable mystery: how and why do cultures differ? ... Anyone interested in our cultural divides will find tremendous insight in Rule Makers, Rule Breakers' - Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of Enlightenment Now

Why are clocks in Germany always correct, while those in Brazil are frequently wrong? Why are Singaporeans jailed for selling gum? Why do women in New Zealand have three times the sex of females worldwide? Why was the Daimler-Chrysler merger ill-fated from the start? And why does each generation of Americans give their…


Book cover of The Strange Case of Donald J. Trump: A Psychological Reckoning

Ronnie Janoff-Bulman Author Of The Two Moralities: Conservatives, Liberals, and the Roots of Our Political Divide

From my list on the psychology behind our politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

A university professor for 40 years (now emerita), I focused my most recent research on moral psychology. I am also a political junkie, so perhaps it is no surprise that I have combined these two interests. As both a social psychologist and political psychologist, I have conducted numerous studies on the moral underpinnings of our political ideologies. In addition to two books, I have published over 90 papers, many devoted to morality and/or politics, and I was awarded a generous three-year National Science Foundation grant to study the two moralities that are discussed in my book.   

Ronnie's book list on the psychology behind our politics

Ronnie Janoff-Bulman Why did Ronnie love this book?

In his highly respected research, personality psychologist Dan McAdams has focused on the important role of a life story, or narrative, in creating our human identity.

This book is essentially a case study of Donald Trump that explains why so many of Trump’s actions seem so disconnected from truth and reality.

McAdams persuasively argues that Trump has no inner life story—no integrative narrative—and instead lives compulsively in the moment, crashing his way through life.

By Dan P. McAdams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Strange Case of Donald J. Trump as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Strange Case of Donald J. Trump provides a coherent and nuanced psychological portrait of Donald Trump, drawing upon biographical events in the subject's life and contemporary scientific research and theory in personality, developmental, and social psychology.

Dan P. McAdams, renowned psychologist who pioneered the study of lives, examines the central personality traits, personal values and motives, and the interpersonal and cultural factors that together have shaped Trump's psychological makeup, with an emphasis on the strangeness of the case-that is, how Trump again and again defies psychological expectations regarding what it means to be a human being. The book's central…


Book cover of Left and Right: The Psychological Significance of a Political Distinction

Ronnie Janoff-Bulman Author Of The Two Moralities: Conservatives, Liberals, and the Roots of Our Political Divide

From my list on the psychology behind our politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

A university professor for 40 years (now emerita), I focused my most recent research on moral psychology. I am also a political junkie, so perhaps it is no surprise that I have combined these two interests. As both a social psychologist and political psychologist, I have conducted numerous studies on the moral underpinnings of our political ideologies. In addition to two books, I have published over 90 papers, many devoted to morality and/or politics, and I was awarded a generous three-year National Science Foundation grant to study the two moralities that are discussed in my book.   

Ronnie's book list on the psychology behind our politics

Ronnie Janoff-Bulman Why did Ronnie love this book?

Social Psychologist John Jost is a giant in the field of political psychology. In this book the reader is treated to a collection of his superb essays on political ideology. 

From neuroscience to psychology and sociology, Jost draws on research to present a complete picture of the nature, role, and implications of our political ideologies. Anyone interested in politics, and political psychology in particular, would benefit from the knowledge and insights Jost offers in this book.  

By John T. Jost,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Left and Right as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book brings together for the first time an updated, revised collection of influential essays and articles that capture some of the most exciting scientific and scholarly contributions to the topic of political ideology. John Jost tackles fundamental questions about how psychology, neuroscience, and societal factors impact political attitudes and group divisions. In what sense, if any, are ordinary citizens "ideological"? Is it useful to locate political
attitudes on a single dimension of representation? Are there meaningful differences in the beliefs, opinions, and values of leftists and rights-or liberals and conservatives? How are personality traits related to ideological preferences? What…


Book cover of Social Dominance: An Intergroup Theory of Social Hierarchy and Oppression

Ronnie Janoff-Bulman Author Of The Two Moralities: Conservatives, Liberals, and the Roots of Our Political Divide

From my list on the psychology behind our politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

A university professor for 40 years (now emerita), I focused my most recent research on moral psychology. I am also a political junkie, so perhaps it is no surprise that I have combined these two interests. As both a social psychologist and political psychologist, I have conducted numerous studies on the moral underpinnings of our political ideologies. In addition to two books, I have published over 90 papers, many devoted to morality and/or politics, and I was awarded a generous three-year National Science Foundation grant to study the two moralities that are discussed in my book.   

Ronnie's book list on the psychology behind our politics

Ronnie Janoff-Bulman Why did Ronnie love this book?

This book has become a classic in social psychology, and social dominance, as both a personality trait and a feature of societies, has become an indispensable factor in understanding individual, cultural, and political differences.

In this book social/political psychologists Jim Sidanius and Felicia Pratto draw on their own excellent research and scholarship to present their influential theory of social hierarchy and the psychological and societal mechanisms that support it.

This book is for anyone interested in our political differences, and in particular factors that contribute to social inequality.  

By Jim Sidanius, Felicia Pratto,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Social Dominance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This volume focuses on two questions: why do people from one social group oppress and discriminate against people from other groups? and why is this oppression so mind numbingly difficult to eliminate? The answers to these questions are framed using the conceptual framework of social dominance theory. Social dominance theory argues that the major forms of intergroup conflict, such as racism, classism and patriarchy, are all basically derived from the basic human predisposition to form and maintain hierarchical and group-based systems of social organization. In essence, social dominance theory presumes that, beneath major and sometimes profound difference between different human…


Book cover of The Prince and The Discourses

Bob Brill Author Of The Tattoo Murder

From my list on solving historical mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

My entire life I’ve been a historian, a treasure hunter, and a crime solver, which is likely why I became a broadcast journalist and investigative reporter. Having worked cases, worked with police, and asked the questions I believe the public wanted answered, there isn’t much which gets by me. I see every story as a movie and every scene in life as a story that needs telling. One of my passions has always been genealogy which fits right into all of the above. I live by a simple saying, “Be a student of history, not a victim of it.”

Bob's book list on solving historical mysteries

Bob Brill Why did Bob love this book?

Logic! While Machiavelli is looked upon as a shrewd politician he is quite the opposite of John Potenza, the character in my book, but that’s where the similarities begin. Machiavelli was the most logical person ever. I’m fascinated by Logic. So is my crime-solving detective, who uses everything logical to figure out life. Potenza is a loyal Italian, so is Machiavelli. Machiavelli is loyal to himself and his cause, for Potenza it's the cause and family.

If you love logic and intrigue, you will love The Prince. It deals with the logic of human experience; one powerful tool in our repertoire. It certainly was for the politician. The same for a surfing cop trying to keep two biker gangs from going to mattress. 

By Niccolo Machiavelli,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Prince and The Discourses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Translated by Luigi Ricci, Revised by E.R.P. Vincent, Introduction by Max Lerner


Book cover of Republic

Alan E. Johnson Author Of Reason and Human Ethics

From my list on a rational approach to ethics.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I was a teenager, I have thought about the connection between reason and ethics. This preoccupation was present during my formal education (A.B. and A.M., University of Chicago; J.D., Cleveland State University), during my three decades as a practicing lawyer, and, finally, as an independent philosopher during more than a decade of retirement from law practice. My book Reason and Human Ethics is the culmination of my reflection about this philosophical issue. The books I have recommended have been among those references that have been most helpful to me in formulating my own conclusions, though my own views are not identical with those of any other writing.

Alan's book list on a rational approach to ethics

Alan E. Johnson Why did Alan love this book?

Plato’s Republic is famous as a work of political philosophy. It describes in speech what the Platonic Socrates suggests is the best political order. However, Socrates admits that his ideal city would probably never become a reality. He also points to possible defects in his proposed best regime. More interesting, to me, is the teaching of the Republic that a good ethical life involves a person’s using reason to supervise (not eliminate) the passions. The examples of Socratic dialectic in this dialogue are illustrations of the use of human reason and the dangers of fallacious thinking. Plato’s teaching of the importance of reason continues to be relevant in our time.

By Plato, Joe Sachs (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Republic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Focus Philosophical Library's edition of Plato's Republic is an English translation of one of the most intellectually important works in Western philosophy and political theory. It includes an extensive introduction, an extensive afterword "Imitation" by John White, a chapter-by-chapter outline of principal speakers and summary of the content, Stephanus numbers, boldface type to indicate the entrance of a new speaker into the discussion, footnotes, and glossary of key terms with cross-references for the text.

This dialogue includes Socrates and others discussing the definition of justice, the theory of forms, and the immortality of the soul. Plato uses numerous dialogues between…


Book cover of Systems of Survival: A Dialogue on the Moral Foundations of Commerce and Politics

Geoff Mulgan Author Of Big Mind: How Collective Intelligence Can Change Our World

From my list on how societies think.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve worked top-down with dozens of governments worldwide and bottom-up with many campaigns, start-ups, and social enterprises. I realised that the connecting thread is how to mobilise shared intelligence to address the big challenges like cutting carbon emissions or reducing inequality, and how to avoid the collective stupidity we all see around us. We waste so much of the insight and creativity that sits in peoples’ heads. I thought we were missing both good theory and enough practical methods to make the most of technologies – from the Internet to generative AI – that could help us. I hope that my book – and the work I do – provides some of the answers.

Geoff's book list on how societies think

Geoff Mulgan Why did Geoff love this book?

One of my favourite books from a few decades ago is Jane Jacobs’ Systems of Survival. 

She is best known for her work on cities, but this has a wider canvas. It explains how all working societies, and organisations, combine contradictory moral syndromes, what she calls the guardian and trader syndromes. She also shows the pathologies that result from mixing them up too much, like when businesses become like governments or governments become too much like businesses. 

It is one of the rare books that changes how you see the world – and helps you understand the errors in much social thought.

By Jane Jacobs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Systems of Survival as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With intelligence and clarity of observation, the author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities addresses the moral values that underpin working life.

In Systems of Survival, Jane Jacobs identifies two distinct moral syndromes—one governing commerce, the other, politics—and explores what happens when these two syndromes collide. She looks at business fraud and criminal enterprise, government’s overextended subsidies to agriculture, and transit police who abuse the system the are supposed to enforce, and asks us to consider instances in which snobbery is a virtue and industry a vice. In this work of profound insight and elegance, Jacobs gives…


Book cover of Securing Sex: Morality and Repression in the Making of Cold War Brazil

Natalia Milanesio Author Of Destape: Sex, Democracy, and Freedom in Postdictatorial Argentina

From my list on the history of sexuality in modern Latin America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of twentieth-century Argentina and a professor of modern Latin American history currently teaching at the University of Houston. Born and raised in Argentina, I completed my undergraduate studies at the National University of Rosario and moved to the United States in 2000 to continue my education. I received my M.A. in history from New York University and my Ph.D. in history from Indiana University, Bloomington. I have written extensively about gender, working-class history, consumer culture, and sexuality in Argentina. I am the author of Workers Go Shopping in Argentina: The Rise of Popular Consumer Culture and Destape! Sex, Democracy, and Freedom in Postdictatorial Argentina.

Natalia's book list on the history of sexuality in modern Latin America

Natalia Milanesio Why did Natalia love this book?

This book contributes greatly to the global history of the Cold War by showing that “moral technocrats” during the military dictatorship in Brazil equated political subversion with sexual subversion: Anticommunist countersubversion included anxieties about gender, sex, and youth. South American Cold War dictatorships have been traditionally understood as modernizing projects but Cowan complicates the definition by exploring the moral panic, and consequent calls and attempts at repression, related to the sexual revolution, new forms of female sexual expression, and pornography. 

By Benjamin A. Cowan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Securing Sex as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this history of right-wing politics in Brazil during the Cold War, Benjamin Cowan puts the spotlight on the Cold Warriors themselves. Drawing on little-tapped archival records, he shows that by midcentury, conservatives-individuals and organizations, civilian as well as military-were firmly situated in a transnational network of right-wing cultural activists. They subsequently joined the powerful hardline constituency supporting Brazil's brutal military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985. There, they lent their weight to a dictatorship that, Cowan argues, operationalized a moral panic that conflated communist subversion with manifestations of modernity, coalescing around the crucial nodes of gender and sexuality, particularly in…


Book cover of Getting Our Act Together: A Theory of Collective Moral Obligations

S.M. Amadae Author Of Prisoners of Reason: Game Theory and Neoliberal Political Economy

From my list on to move beyond neoliberalism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been studying neoliberal political economy and its future transformations since I wrote Rationalizing Capitalist Democracy. One major insight has been the deep entanglement of neoliberal political-economic practices with de facto power relations. The liberal normative bargaining characterizing Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations yields to coercive bargaining in which threats of harm are the surest and best means to get one’s way. If one seeks to understand how systems will evolve when governed by strategic competition, then orthodox game theory is useful. However, if one seeks to live in a post-scarcity society in which genuine cooperation is possible, then we can enact solidarity, trust-based relationships, and collective moral accountability. 

S.M.'s book list on to move beyond neoliberalism

S.M. Amadae Why did S.M. love this book?

Neoliberal political economy assumes either a strategic rational actor or an irrational actor who needs to be “nudged” to act rationally. This theory endorses a theory of individualist agency which holds that ultimately all agents must compete against each other. This system of thought emphasizes a lack of alternatives and recommends institutions that accept that actors are narrowly self-interested: people evolved to be machines that survive and propagate. Against this view of human agency, alternative theorists construct theories of action in which individuals can reason together, act in concert, and together be morally accountable. Schwenkenbecher effectively builds this alternative perspective affording possibilities of intentional cooperation and collective moral action.

By Anne Schwenkenbecher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Getting Our Act Together as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Together we can often achieve things that are impossible to do on our own. We can prevent something bad from happening, or we can produce something good, even if none of us could do it by ourselves. But when are we morally required to do something of moral importance together with others?

This book develops an original theory of collective moral obligations. These are obligations that individual moral agents hold jointly but not as unified collective agents. The theory does not stipulate a new type of moral obligation but rather suggests that to think of some of our obligations as…


Book cover of Responsibility for Justice

Kieran Setiya Author Of Life Is Hard: How Philosophy Can Help Us Find Our Way

From my list on finding solidarity in suffering.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where I work on ethics and related questions about human agency and human knowledge. My interest in adversity is both personal and philosophical: it comes from my own experience with chronic pain and from a desire to revive the tradition of moral philosophy as a medium of self-help. My last book was Midlife: A Philosophical Guide, and I have also written about baseball and philosophy, stand-up comedy, and the American author H. P. Lovecraft.

Kieran's book list on finding solidarity in suffering

Kieran Setiya Why did Kieran love this book?

Although it is more academic than the others I’ve recommended, this book is both practical and urgent: it asks how we’re responsible for facing up to the structures of injustice in which we are implicated—the legacies of colonialism and slavery, the ongoing catastrophe of climate change. Young’s answer is that responsibility here is not about guilt or shame but the obligation to work for change, an obligation we can only meet through collective action, working with others to transform the systems around us. Young’s argument is rich, provocative, and inspiring.

By Iris Marion Young,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Responsibility for Justice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When the noted political philosopher Iris Marion Young died in 2006, her death was mourned as the passing of "one of the most important political philosophers of the past quarter-century" (Cass Sunstein) and as an important and innovative thinker working at the conjunction of a number of important topics: global justice; democracy and difference; continental political theory; ethics and international affairs; and gender, race and public policy.

In her long-awaited Responsibility for Justice, Young discusses our responsibilities to address "structural" injustices in which we among many are implicated (but for which we not to blame), often by virtue of participating…


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