Disgust Essay

1967 Words4 Pages

The aim of this paper is to take an in-depth look at the emotion of disgust, and explore what role (if any) it should play in morality. The issue of what role disgust should have in morality is disputed by advocates and skeptics. In what follows, I will outline this dispute and show the arguments each side makes. Following that, I will take a look into Kelly’s view which takes the skeptical stance, but differs in how he comes to take that stance. Next I will show how Kelly uses his view to disprove the disgust advocates’ arguments. Finally, I will illustrate a promising line of argument that may give hope to the disgust advocates, in light of Kelly’s powerful skeptical stance.
The question that causes division among many regards disgust’s role in morality. Those whom have opinions on the matter are making a prescriptive claim rather than a descriptive one. The question is not about what role disgust actually has in morality, rather, it is about what role disgust ought to have in morality. In addition to arguing why or why not disgust reactions are reliable in the moral spectrum, each side also appeals to a particular view of the nature of disgust itself.
On one side of the disagreement are the disgust advocates. These people maintain that disgust is an essential tool in human moral psychology. They argue that disgust reactions are sufficient to make moral judgments. The view that advocates appeal to about the nature of disgust most often is the Deep Wisdom Theory. This theory argues that disgust trumps reason’s ability to articulate and discern certain properties or boundaries that, ethically speaking, should not be crossed. Disgust advocates, argue that disgust has important role in morality, and that the Deep Wisdom Theory...

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... of the nature of disgust, it could be argued that the disgust response is a product of our deeply held judgments, that we have given sufficient thought to in the past. Therefore, the disgust response could be argued to be a product of well thought-out beliefs, that are available to be put into practice quickly by our intuitive reactions.
I have presented the dispute between advocates and skeptics regarding the disgust emotion and its place in morality. In presenting Kelly’s view, I have given explanation for why he takes the stance he does, and why believes his view to disprove the advocate’s arguments. In concluding, I offered a line of argument that I think may give support for the advocate stance, even in light of Kelly’s criticisms. However, ultimately, I side with Kelly’s arguments and maintain that disgust simply has no place in the realm of moral judgment.

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