Philosophy TV Managing Editors

David Killoren (Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry, Australian Catholic University)

Jonathan Lang (Wisconsin Institute for Sleep and Consciousness, University of Wisconsin-Madison)


Victor Kumar and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

Victor Kumar and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong on moral disgust.

Note: We recorded this episode on the fly at RoME in August 2014. The production quality is non-ideal (putting it mildly) but the audio is crystal clear.

How should we respond to the feeling of disgust? Is disgustingness evidence of immorality? There are some clear cases in which the disgust response is pernicious (e.g., disgust seems to underlie some racist and homophobic ideas), but this does not entail that disgust always leads us astray. In this conversation, Kumar and Sinnott-Armstrong evaluate disgust. Kumar distinguishes pathogen disgust from moral disgust (a.k.a. repugnance), and defends the utility of the latter. Sinnott-Armstrong asks whether moral disgust is really a form of disgust at all (10:03). They discuss whether disgust causes or is caused by moral judgment (20:28), and consider the epistemic credentials of disgust (23:47). Then they debate whether we should strive for emotionlessness in moral reasoning (40:15), and conclude by discussing whether the consequences of disgust are bad on the whole (46:52).

Related works

by Kumar:
with Richmond Campbell: “On the Normative Significance of Experimental Moral Psychology” (2012)
with Richmond Campbell: “Moral Reasoning on the Ground” (2012)

by Sinnott-Armstrong:
with Thalia Wheatley: “Are Moral Judgments Unified?” (2014)
“Emotion and Reliability in Moral Psychology” (2011)