Being Appropriately Disgusted

Journal of Value Inquiry 48 (1):131-150 (2014)
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Empirical research indicates that feelings of disgust actually affect our moral beliefs and moral motivations. The question is, should they? Daniel Kelly argues that they should not. More particularly, he argues for what we may call the irrelevancy thesis and the anti-moralization thesis. According to the irrelevancy thesis, feelings of disgust should be given no weight when judging the moral character of an action (or norm, practice, outcome, or ideal). According to the anti-moralization thesis, feelings of disgust should not be allowed a role in, or harnessed in the service of, moral motivation. In this paper, I will argue against both theses, staking out a moderate position according to which feelings of disgust can (but needn’t always) play a proper role in aid of moral belief formation and moral motivation.

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Brian Besong
Saint Francis University


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