[This is my interpretation of the incredible work of George Lakoff from UC Berkeley.]
When we break down the logic of conservativism, we will then be able to understand it. Believe it or not, there is nothing irrational about it, but this doesn’t mean that we need to support it. What drives its logic is its adherence to a “strict-father” morality and its reliance on folk behaviorism. Before describing how the model works, we will look at the assumptions that drive its logic.
It is not irrational if we believe that its assumptions are true, but it is dangerous if taken literally to those that are unable to meet its standards since social hierarchy and meritocracy are moral and necessary parts of the system. In fact, competition, which is the means to hierarchy, is such an essential and inseparable piece of conservative morality that without it it would become incoherent.
Without competition, there is no source of reward for self-discipline, no motivation to become the right kind of person. It is through competition that we discover who is moral, that is, who has been properly self-disciplined and therefore deserves success, and who is fit enough to survive and even thrive in a difficult world. 
This worldview is one mode of thought that is common throughout all cultures although perhaps not in the same exact configuration – a configuration that “appeals to the worst of human instincts, leading people to stereotype, demonize, and punish the Other. .” I am in agreement with Lakoff here, but if I am to be at all honest, then I must admit to using this “hawkish” type of reasoning myself.
If he has not worked hard enough, he is slothful and hence morally weak. If he is not talented enough, then he ranks lower than others in the natural order…The rich (who are talented enough and who have worked hard enough to become rich) deserve their wealth and the poor (either through lack of industry or talent) deserve their poverty. 
Assumptions on Human Behavior
Conservatives’ logic relies on folk behaviorism, which is a model of human behavior that explains learning in terms of rewards and punishments. Since we do respond to incentives, trade-offs, and consequences, then folk behaviorism seems to be true, but life isn’t all about carrots and sticks as much else can motivate us. It is, however, an essential piece for making their reasoning work.
People, left to their own devices, tend simply to satisfy their desires. But, people will make themselves do things they don’t want to do to get rewards; they will refrain from doing things they do want to do to avoid punishment. 
Behaviorism as a model for how we learn has largely been replaced by cognitive science as an explanatory tool . And it can’t be true in the absolute sense since it requires that punishment and rewards have absolute meanings, but they don’t since conceptual categories, which rewards and punishments are, are considered to be “fuzzy”, “radial” and vary in the prototype that is used.
Not only can’t we unequivocally define what reward and punishment are for everyone, but we don’t always act according to what the rational actor model predicts, which is not in some objectively defined way that is always in our best interests. What interferes with us maximizing our rewards and minimizing our punishment is that our reasoning varies over time, situation, and with the individual.
Often, the source of that failure is due to the fact that people use other forms of reasoning that get in the way of a reward-punishment form of “rationality”—prototype-based reasoning, alternate framings, worldview differences—which affect how categories of people and events are understood and even affect judgments of simple probability.
There exists an additional, hidden, assumption that life is a struggle for survival, and therefore “survival in the world is a matter of competing successfully”. . This means that the world is difficult and that we must become self-disciplined through rewards and punishments which builds character. We already know, however, from this post that we are making life a struggle for survival.
Assumptions on Categorizing
The worldview also makes assumptions on how we understand concepts and interact with one another such that their strict-father morality must be absolute, literal, and perfectly communicated. These assumptions, in addition to the two above, allow their worldview to work at some level. But it’s not just a matter of coherency but rather whether or not these assumptions are true.
Cognitive science has shown that all of these are false. The human mind simply does not work this way. And it’s not that these principles are off just a little. They are all massively false. 
Strict-father morality requires absolute categorization in that an attribute is either in or out of a category . This means that concepts can’t be “fuzzy”, “radial”, or exist as prototypes since they need to be fixed and literal. Take the conceptual category of rich and poor, which is “fuzzy” since is it based on economic status or education, and if economic, where do we draw the line?
Concepts at a high enough resolution lack boundaries, making them “fuzzy”, but they are also not fixed but rather “radial” – that is, they vary from some ideal type. Take any concept, even moral concepts, and we will see that they vary with time and context. This doesn’t mean that moral relativism is inevitable but just that morality can’t be defined in such strict ways as this worldview requires.
The kind of reasoning that we use changes based on the prototype we use to reason with. A common prototype is the stereotype that is a genuine way in which we reason and understand with. For example, the stereotype for “dumb” is a non-reflective conclusion that a person is the typical “dumb” person. But not everyone jumps to the same stereotype since perception varies.
Assumptions on Communication
We also “frame” things differently based on “worldview” effects, making absolute categorization very difficult. An example that Lakoff uses is the concept of someone being thrifty or stingy. They both mean to spend little but each uses a different frame to alter its meaning. Thrifty frames spending little in terms of preserving one’s money while stingy frames it as how generous one is.
Lakoff takes this example further to illustrate worldview effects. For example, an ideal liberal may view the government’s role as needing to be thrifty but not stingy but, on the other hand, an ideal conservative would say that the government is never stingy when being thrifty since their worldview dictates that stinginess builds self-reliance and self-discipline, which leads to character building.
So we don’t have perfect communication based on how we frame things as well as how we use language. Some people understate things while others overstate things and some use direct language while others use indirect language. The preferences that we have vary over time and individual. For instance, a sensitive person could view the use of direct language as impolite.
In conclusion, morality is obviously mostly metaphorical and not literal. But if you aren’t convinced, look at Lakoff’s model where each category is a complex metaphor that is a composite of further metaphors. But if moral concepts are largely metaphorical, and conservatism requires literal and absolute concepts, then their worldview is based on an ideal that can’t be realized with precision.
The Conservative Morality
- MORAL STRENGTH:
- This contributes a great deal—the strict dichotomy between
- good and evil, the internal evils, asceticism, and the immorality of moral weakness.
- MORAL AUTHORITY:
- This contributes notions of the legitimacy and illegitimacy of moral authority, and
- transfers the resentment toward meddling parents into resentment against the meddling of other authority figures.
- MORAL ORDER:
- This legitimizes certain traditional hierarchical power relations and, together with Moral Strength,
- makes it seem reasonable to think that the rich are either morally or naturally superior to the poor.
- MORAL BOUNDARIES:
- This provides a spatial logic of the danger of deviance.
- MORAL ESSENCE:
- This contributes the idea that there exists an essence called “character,”
- that it can be determined by significant past actions, and that it is a reliable indicator of future actions.
- MORAL WHOLENESS:
- This makes moral unity and uniformity a virtue
- and suggests the imminent and serious danger of any sign of moral nonunity and nonuniformity.
- MORAL PURITY:
- This associates our visceral reactions of disgust
- and our logic of the corruption of pure substances with the idea that morality must be unified and uniform.
- MORAL HEALTH:
- This adds the logic of disease to the logic of immorality
- and contributes the idea that contact with immoral people is dangerous
- because the immorality might spread in a rapid and uncontrollable way like an epidemic.
- MORAL SELF-INTEREST:
- This adds the idea that seeking one’s self-interest is a moral activity
- and interfering with the seeking of self-interest is immoral.
- The application of this metaphor is limited by its role in the system.
- MORALITY AS NURTURANCE:
- The role of this metaphor in the system is to specify when helping people is moral.
 Graham, George, “Behaviorism”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2019 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2019/entries/behaviorism/.
 Lakoff, George. Moral Politics. University of Chicago Press.
 Lakoff, George. Philosophy In The Flesh.
 Lakoff, George. The Political Mind. Penguin Publishing Group.
 Lakoff, George. Your Brain’s Politics. Societas.
 Wikipedia contributors. Behaviorism. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16:59, December 17, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Behaviorism&oldid=993314157.