The ethics of disgust


I argue that the recent debate about the role disgust deserves in ethical thought has been impoverished by an inadequate understanding of the emotion itself. After considering Kass and Nussbaum’s respective positions in that debate, and the implausible views of the nature of disgust on which their arguments rest, I describe my own view, which makes sense of the wealth of recent, often puzzling, empirical work done on the emotion. This view sees disgust as being primarily responsible for protecting against toxins and infectious diseases, but as also having been recruited to play auxiliary roles in the cognition of social norms and group boundaries. I argue that this view provides new and more plausible foundations for skepticism about the idea that disgust deserves some kind of special epistemic credit or moral authority, that the emotion is a trustworthy guide to justifiable moral judgments, or that there is any deep wisdom in repugnance.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,322

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

  • Only published works are available at libraries.

Similar books and articles

The Good and the Gross.Alexandra Plakias - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (2):261-278.
Disgust: The body and soul emotion in the 21st century.P. Rozin, J. Haidt & C. R. McCauley - 2009 - In Bunmi O. Olatunji & Dean McKay (eds.), Disgust and its disorders. American Psychological Association. pp. 2008.
The Meaning of Disgust.Colin McGinn - 2011 - New York, US: Oup Usa.


Added to PP

239 (#81,228)

6 months
11 (#220,905)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Daniel Kelly
Purdue University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references