Does disgust guide moral behavior, or does it hamper it? Does disgust play a critical role in ordinary moral judgments, or almost no role at all? In this volume, experts in the field come together to explore fundamental questions about the role that disgust plays (and ought to play) in our moral lives. This book features twelve new essays, nestled comfortably at the intersection of psychology and philosophy. The Moral Psychology of Disgust brings together leading scholars—ethical theorists, cognitive scientists, developmental psychologists, legal scholars, cognitive neuroscientists, anthropologists—each answering questions that arise at the intersection of morality and disgust. The book introduces readers to the most pressing issues facing the field, and gives a perspective that is representative of the range of views and concerns that reflect the current research terrain.The book addresses three main themes: the origins of moral disgust, exploring the evolutionary function of disgust and its role in sustaining group dynamics; the psychological mechanisms underlying disgust responses and the way in which disgust influences reasoning about agency, violence, sex, and meaning; and the ethical challenges posed by disgust. The contributors explore whether we are justified in using disgust to form beliefs about right and wrong and how disgust sheds light on the very nature of morality.
1. Introduction: Disgust, an emotion of many faces, Nina Strohminger and Victor Kumar / Part I: The origins of moral disgust / 2. Evaluating accounts of moral disgust through an evolutionary lens, Joshua Tybur, Catherine Molho and Daniel Balliet / 3. Disgust, manners and morality, Valerie Curtis / 4. The Social Origins of Disgust, Joshua Rottman, Jasmine DeJesus, and Emily Gerdin / 5. Why and How Disgust Permeates Law, Carlton Patrick and Debra Lieberman / Part II: How moral disgust works / 6. Guilty minds and gross acts, Alek Chakroff and Liane Young / 7. The moral consequences of disgust in the context of sexual assault, Laura Niemi / 8. Why the weird seems impure: Threat compensation and moral disgust, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Eleanor Hanna / 9. Is moral disgust a form of disgust?, David Pizarro / Part III: The philosophy and ethics of moral disgust / 10. Disgust and Public Policy, Yoel Inbar / 11. Gross Violations, Carol Hay / 12. The Moral and Political Limits of Disgust, Joshua May / 13. Projectivism Psychologized: A Philosophic Idea in Cognitive Scientific Clothing, Dan Kelly / 14. Putting our Morals Where our Mouths Are: Disgust, Food, and Morality, Alexandra Plakias / 15. Varieties of Disgust: Aesthetic and Moral Aspects, Carolyn Korsmeyer / Index
In recent years there has been an upsurge of interest in emotions and their role in our moral life. This volume is an outstanding exemplar of how research on this topic is best done. Its strongly interdisciplinary approach with its focus on one of the most alluring of moral emotions – moral disgust – makes it a must-read for philosophers and psychologists alike.
After the recent explosion of interest and interdisciplinary effort in the moral psychology of disgust, Strohminger and Kumar collect the state of the art in the burgeoning new sub-field, including contributions from Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Daniel Kelly, and Liane Young. This book will be indispensable to disgust researchers and students alike, as well as to anyone looking for a first-class example of how interdisciplinary collaboration between philosophers and scientists can be done.
This timely collection promises to overturn any current consensus about the moral status of disgust. Recently, the idea that emotions drive our ideas of right and wrong has gained prominence. This in-depth exploration of disgust teaches us how complex the interaction between emotion and moral judgment is, both from a psychological and philosophical standpoint. Highly recommended!
Nina Strohminger is postdoctoral fellow in Cognitive Science at Yale University
Victor Kumar is postdoctoral fellow in Philosophy at the University of Toronto