Guide The Wisdom of Repugnance

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  • How Wise Is Repugnance? - Econlib.
  • “the wisdom of repugnance”: a test case – Snakes and Ladders;
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  • Class notes: applied ethics.
  • Author information.

But their report has a more limited purpose: to give the government an arsenal of arguments to justify potentially controversial policies. There is no better strategy for dismissing a moral argument than to say that it is meaningless, ambiguous and confusing. Disgust and monstrosity : a response of disgust, revulsion or fear prompted by novel technologies. Amongst the recommendations made by the committee is some Orwellian finger-wagging at journalists, politicians, policy-makers, manufacturers and advertisers to mind their language. People often have genuine concerns, beliefs and values which should be answered, not just dismissed.

Everyone involved in key debates about science should avoid using these terms, unless they are willing to explore and engage with the hopes and fears that lie behind them.

Introduction to Ethics (class notes: applied ethics)

After all, it is not in the business of lexicography. And it does. The same argument can be deployed in public policy arguments about sexual morality, just as the authors of the Wolfenden Report did 60 years ago. Or, for that matter, incest or bestiality?

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Or human enhancement or genetic engineering? Or genetically modified animals or geo-engineering the climate? The national daily championing freedom, smaller government and human dignity.

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Our sense of repugnance tells us little about whether we should use the coercive force of law, especially of criminal law, to punish people. Many people, for instance, find male homosexual sex to be yucky and repugnant. But my sense is that even those Americans who morally oppose homosexuality tend to no longer support imprisoning people for engaging in consensual adult homosexual sex. Likewise, many people find even heterosexual anal sex to be yucky and repugnant, and historically many people have taken the same view about male-female oral sex and I assume some still do.

“The Wisdom of Repugnance”

We have to reason about exactly why something might be harmful, and whether its harms are exceeded by its benefits or by the harms of trying to criminalize it, which include both deprivations of liberty and expenditures of taxpayer money. We should instead focus on the wisdom of reasoning, not the supposed wisdom of repugnance. I suppose someone might say that repugnance could still be rightly used as a sort of default assumption — criminalize that which we find yucky, unless there is good reason not to ban it.