February 27, 2009

Immorality a Lot Like Rotten Food: Evidence for the Oral Origins of Moral Disgust.
  • Though philosophers have traditionally considered morality to be the pinnacle of purely rational thought, scientists have wondered whether emotion might also play a role. I don't know if it is the recent focus on religious intolerance, but I am not surprised at all to find the people's sense of morality is not purely rational thought. I actually would have guessed it was more emotionally based than not.
  • I can't actually think of a single philosopher who considered morality to be the pinnacle of rational thought. Most, not all, wanted to give a rational basis for it, but I'd say that's about all. Spookily enough, the thing that turns out to be the pinnacle of rational thought, and indeed the highest form of all human activity, in pretty well every philosophers opinion is - philosophy. The findings in the link are interesting, but why do they take it that the moral sense must be piggybacking on an older sense to do with rotten food? Maybe a sense of rotten food is piggybacking on an older sense of morality. More likely, there's a third phenomenon called disgust, and both the food and the ethics are wired into it. That fact that bad behaviour and bad food both evoke disgust then becomes unsurprising, and stands revealed as telling you nothing about the inherent nature of morality or of rot.