Professor David Tubbs Reviews Book on “The Politics of Disgust”
Review examines the latest work of prominent constitutional scholar
Americans who fall within the Judeo-Christian tradition of ethics deserve commendation for remaining civil in the debate over same-sex marriage, argues Dr. David Tubbs, assistant professor of politics at The King’s College. But not everyone would agree that an argument such as this can be civil. In November’s American Spectator, Tubbs wrote "The Politics of Humanity," a review of constitutional scholar Martha Nussbaum’s most recent book, From Disgust to Humanity, which portrays those committed to traditional marriage as engaging in the “politics of disgust.”
Though many disagree with same-sex marriage out of religious or philosophic motivations, Nussbaum offers a different argument. “She wants to show,” Tubbs wrote, “that much of that opposition arises from what she calls the ‘politics of disgust’—a politics based on visceral reactions and disreputable attempts at psychological manipulation.”
Those who practice this kind of politics attempt to provoke disgust in their audience by describing acts which the audience finds distasteful. Her goal is to show that the “politics of disgust” is highly influential in our society—yet largely unnoticed. She compares the “politics of disgust” to the “politics of humanity,” which “purports to be a compelling blend of reason, sympathy, moral imagination, and political principle,” Tubbs wrote.
Tubbs is critical of her book, and explains his position throughout the review. For instance, he critiques the cavalier way in which she uses the word “disgust,” which minimizes the effect of saying someone engages in it. By using the word in many different contexts, it loses its powerful meaning. Her description of the “politics of disgust” is thus inconsistent.
Additionally, her treatment of the “politics of humanity”—while consistent—is lacking. She relies on the philosophy of J.S. Mill to discuss human sexuality in terms of “self-regarding behavior.” While Nussbaum affirms this behavior, she remains silent on the more radical and destructive ideas surrounding this philosophy. The scholar’s attempt at looking at an influence in constitutional law thus falls short, according to Tubbs.
To read the entire review, including Tubbs’s treatment of the “politics of humanity,” visit the American Spectator’s website.
For more information about The King's College please contact: