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‘Disgust is thought to have originated in distaste, a food-rejection impulse or motivation triggered by the ingestion of unpleasant-tasting substances, prototypically those that are bitter (Chapman, Kim, Susskind, & Anderson, 2009; Rozin & Fallon, 1987). Because many bitter substances are toxic (Garcia, Hankins, Denton, & Coghlan, 1975), the role of distaste in food rejection has a clear and concrete adaptive function. Distaste appears to have very ancient origins: Even sea anemones, which first evolved some 500 million years ago, will expel bitter foods from their gastric cavity (Garcia et al., 1975)’ (Chapman & Anderson, 2013, p. 300).
Chapman, Kim, Susskind, & Anderson (2009, p. 1222) provide an important clue on how to think about disgust when they refer to ‘the primitive motivational system of disgust’. My proposal would be that we treat disgust as a primary motivational state.
For a basic introduction to primary (‘primitive’) motivational states, see:
Is there a particular reason, why in your lecture you listed only 5 of the 6 virtues related to Moral Foundations Theory? Missing Liberty/Opression
I checked this: there is. Liberty comes later than the others (Iyer, Koleva, Graham, Ditto, & Haidt, 2012) and it not measured in the Moral Foundations Questionnaire.
There’s also a bit of a puzzle about the postulation of this foundation. Roughly, Iyer et al. (2012) found a group of people where the foundations do not appear to work (and we’ll see later that others have found further groups; in particular, Davis et al. (2016)). On the face of it, this looks like an objection to the theory. Why is postulating an additional foundation a good response to that objection?
Haidt et al’s own answer to this question does not appear convincing:
‘MFT’s five moral foundations appeared to be inadequate in capturing libertarians’ moral concerns, but the approach that gave birth to these foundations served us well in examining this new group, and stimulated us to consider Liberty/oppression as a candidate for addition to our list of foundations’ (Graham et al., 2013, p. 87).
I do think there might be more compelling answers to the question of why postulating an additional foundation is a good response to the objection. But I would not start from the view that the foundations should include Liberty — the case for that is quite different from the case for the other foundations.