ISBN-10:
0262015587
ISBN-13:
9780262015585
Pub. Date:
06/10/2011
Publisher:
MIT Press
Yuck!: The Nature and Moral Significance of Disgust

Yuck!: The Nature and Moral Significance of Disgust

by Daniel Kelly
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Overview

People can be disgusted by the concrete and by the abstract—by an object they find physically repellent or by an ideology or value system they find morally abhorrent. Different things will disgust different people, depending on individual sensibilities or cultural backgrounds. In Yuck!, Daniel Kelly investigates the character and evolution of disgust, with an emphasis on understanding the role this emotion has come to play in our social and moral lives. Disgust has recently been riding a swell of scholarly attention, especially from those in the cognitive sciences and those in the humanities in the midst of the "affective turn." Kelly surveys the empirical literature and experimental results relevant to disgust and proposes a cognitive model that can accommodate what we now know about it. He offers a new account of the evolution of disgust that builds on the model and argues that expressions of disgust are part of a sophisticated but largely automatic signaling system that humans use to transmit information about what to avoid in the local environment. Drawing on gene culture coevolutionary theory, Kelly argues that disgust was co-opted to play certain roles in our moral psychology. He shows that many of the puzzling features of moral repugnance tinged with disgust are by-products of the imperfect fit between a cognitive system that evolved to protect against poisons and parasites and the social and moral issues on which it has been brought to bear. Kelly's account of this emotion provides a powerful argument against invoking disgust in the service of moral justification.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262015585
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 06/10/2011
Series: Life and Mind: Philosophical Issues in Biology and Psychology
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Daniel Kelly is Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Purdue University.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1 Toward a Functional Theory of Disgust 11

2 Poisons and Parasites: The Entanglement Thesis and the Evolution of Disgust 43

3 Disgust's Sentimental Signaling System: Expression, Recognition, and the Transmission of Cultural Information 61

4 Disgust and Moral Psychology: Tribal Instincts and the Co-opt Thesis 101

5 Disgust and Normative Ethics: The Irrelevance of Repugnance and Dangers of Moralization 137

Notes 153

References 165

Index 189

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

In the minds of those with an intellectual interest in psychology, disgust was once just another item listed in the standard catalog of emotions. Over the past decade or so disgust has oozed its way to the forefront and is now seen as one of the most fascinating and revealing aspects of human psychology. Synthesizing psychological, evolutionary, and philosophical perspectives, Kelly's book is by far the best focused study of the topic available.

Richard Joyce, Professor of Philosophy, Victoria University of Wellington, and author of The Myth of Morality and The Evolution of Morality

Endorsement

In the minds of those with an intellectual interest in psychology, disgust was once just another item listed in the standard catalog of emotions. Over the past decade or so disgust has oozed its way to the forefront and is now seen as one of the most fascinating and revealing aspects of human psychology. Synthesizing psychological, evolutionary, and philosophical perspectives, Kelly's book is by far the best focused study of the topic available.

Richard Joyce, Professor of Philosophy, Victoria University of Wellington, and author of The Myth of Morality and The Evolution of Morality

Michael Ruse

Entertaining and explanatory. Enough to disgust the prudes and thrill the salacious. I did not know how many foods I will never eat and practices I will never follow. This is a terrific read with a genuine underlying moral seriousness. Highly recommended!

Richard Joyce

In the minds of those with an intellectual interest in psychology, disgust was once just another item listed in the standard catalog of emotions. Over the past decade or so disgust has oozed its way to the forefront and is now seen as one of the most fascinating and revealing aspects of human psychology. Synthesizing psychological, evolutionary, and philosophical perspectives, Kelly's book is by far the best focused study of the topic available.

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