The Good and The Gross: Essays in metaethics and moral psychology

Dissertation, University of Michigan (2011)
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Abstract

The three papers in this dissertation attempt to explore and defend a kind of middle ground with respect to the question of moral objectivity. In the first paper I use the case of disgust to show how not to go about raising skepticism about moral judgment; in doing so, I argue that disgust can be vindicated with an account on which it tracks social contagion as well as physical contamination. Therefore, the question of whether disgust is an appropriate reaction to moral wrongness can sometimes be answered in the affirmative. In the second paper, I use empirical data from anthropology and psychology to argue that moral disagreement makes trouble for the claim that morality is objective, but I don’t reject objectivity entirely— in the third paper I go on to argue that moral relativism best makes sense of a morality that appears to be objective with respect to some questions but not others.

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Alexandra Plakias
Hamilton College

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