Contact, Disgust, and The Law

The Gruter Institute recently held a conference at the The Royal Society in London. The topic was “The Evolution of Kissing and Adaptive Trade-Offs in Human Contact: Perspectives in Evolutionary Biology, Immunology Human Behavior, and Implications for the Increasingly Digital Age.”

As part of the program, Carlton Patrick, Professor of Law, University of Central Florida, discussed “Contact, Disgust, and the Law.” Read below for a brief description and links to additional information. 

Disgust is one the primary emotions regulating kissing and other contact, serving two evolved functions. First, it deters contact with individuals showing signs of sickness, disease, or other sources of pathogens. Second, it discourages romantic contact with certain sexual partners who are less likely to produce healthy, viable offspring (such as close kin). This talk explores the interplay between our sense of disgust and laws regulating human contact, with special attention paid to how disgust often facilitates moral judgements. Here, the idea that “what is gross to me is wrong for you” is discussed in the context of food prescriptions, obscenity laws, evidentiary procedure, and sexual proscriptions.

Objection: Disgust, Morality, and the Law 

When Souls Shudder: A Brief History of Disgust and the Law

How Disgust Becomes Law –located in this book, and with a readable preprint here.