From Boston.Com Via The A & L Daily: ‘The Surprising Moral Force Of Disgust’

Full article here.

It may not be that much of a surprise:

“Where does moral law come from? What lies behind our sense of right and wrong? For millennia, there have been two available answers. To the devoutly religious, morality is the word of God, handed down to holy men in groves or on mountaintops. To moral philosophers like Kant, it is a set of rules to be worked out by reason”

Only two available answers?  There’s also this:

“Psychologists like Haidt are leading a wave of research into the so-called moral emotions — not just disgust, but others like anger and compassion — and the role those feelings play in how we form moral codes and apply them in our daily lives. A few, like Haidt, go so far as to claim that all the world’s moral systems can best be characterized not by what their adherents believe, but what emotions they rely on.”

The ideas are now getting dispersed more popularly;  below might be some useful links on this site:

From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.

A reasonable summary?:  Nussbaum argues that disgust should not be used to make laws. It is an emotion that is potentially irrational.  It is also a way to project our own irrationality regarding the body, weakness and mortality onto others. In so doing, often we maintain unjust laws, or inequitable legal, social, and political structures.

She might argue that J.S. Mill’s harm principle is a better tool to maintain freedom and equality than the moral doctrines of Christianity…not only, but especially when, disgust is used to interefere into the lives of others through the laws (Gays and Lesbians in America, Outcasts in India…Bahai, for example, in Iran perhaps).

An example of Nussbaum’s hubris regarding the Elliot Spitzer case (those Puritan Roots can’t be done away with quickly enough):  Martha Nussbaum On Eliot Spitzer At The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Jesse Prinz argues that morals too, have roots in emotions, and argues that evo-psy/cog-sci should get back to British Empiricism, with some Nietzsche thrown in, among other things-More On Jesse Prinz. A Review Of “The Emotional Construction Of Morals” At Notre DameJesse Prinz Discusses “The Emotional Construction Of Morals” On Bloggingheads. Another Note On Jesse Prinz’s “Constructive Sentimentalism”

Jesse Prinz’s page.

Prinz’s book here.

Full diavlog here.


A dig at over-eager psychologists as Haidt may himself be:  Repost-Is Psychology A Science? From Richard Feynman’s ‘Cargo Cult Science’

It will be interesting to watch as this passes through popular thinking, and through the political realm.

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