I confess I am disgusted by a great many things about people (and about myself, but let's put that aside). I do not believe it is particularly urgent for me to overcome my disgust, even if I recognize that this emotion must remain entirely separate from my thinking about which laws would be most just. I am disgusted by other people's dandruff, facial moles, food stuck in their beards, yet I do not accept that in feeling this way I am judging those people to be subhuman. I take it rather that humanity, while endearing, is also capable of appearing disgusting.
According to the study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, humans have somehow managed to strike a successful balance between two important evolutionary functions — sex and disgust. The latter is considered by some psychologists to be a natural defence mechanism against disease — other peoples’ mouths, for instance, pose a higher risk of contamination and are therefore considered an external threat perceived as highly disgusting. When it comes to the nitty gritty of sex, there are plenty of “disgust elicitors” that we relate to contamination says the paper, namely saliva, sweat and semenPLOS ONE: Feelings of Disgust and Disgust-Induced Avoidance Weaken following Induced Sexual Arousal in Women
In this paper we cannot say whether people ought to follow their feelings of disgust; we are concerned with whether they actually do use such feelings to guide their judgments, and the limiting conditions upon such use. However, philosophers who argue for the importance of “psychological realism” in ethics say that philosophers must know the psychological facts before they can issue normative guidance (Flanagan, 1991). There are several good reasons for supposing that disgust does in fact shape moral judgments, even when it is extraneous to the action being judged.
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