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Disgust is a physiological reaction that can be elicited by the perception of objects linked to pathogens or infections, for example excrements, but that is often also associated with perceived moral violations, such as when people say, for example, that some Nazi practices were disgusting. In fact, in recent years there has been a burgeoning discussion in moral philosophy and psychology about what we might call the ethical role of disgust, i.e. disgust as connected to our moral evaluations. This is sometimes referred to as “moral disgust”. This entry discusses the evolutionary path from physical to moral disgust and the complex and ambiguous relation between disgust and moral judgments. It will briefly present the types of moral violations that can elicit moral disgust and, consistently with evidence from psychology, it will highlight the fact that disgust is an emotion that political and moral conservatives tend more frequently to associate to moral evaluations, but that characterizes the moral and political talk of many individuals also outside conservative circles. Finally, it will address the issue whether the use of disgust language as associated to moral judgments is to be taken literally or only metaphorically.


Internet publication


International Encyclopedia of Ethics

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