Some people think gut feelings give us insights which guide us to good decisions.
In bioethics, this is sometimes called the ‘yuk factor‘, and it is often used to motivate attacks against biotechnology. (Has a gut feeling ever led someone to champion a scientific advance instead of decry it, or are gut feelings inherently unscientific?) That context limits the gut feeling to moral disgust, but a short piece in Slate reminds us that sometimes powerful people think it is admirable to make political decisions using gut feelings.
Why do people who make important decisions think relying on gut feelings is a virtue? A lot of evidence shows our moral intuitions can sabotage negotiations, promote racism and foster homophobia. Relying on gut feelings is for cognitive misers. How is this a good thing?
Here’s the Slate article:
- Should You Trust a ‘Gut Feeling’?, by Samantha Henig.
It also links to the following discussion:
- What Do We Mean When We Talk About Intuition?, by Malcolm Gladwell and James Surowiecki.
- Midgley M. Biotechnology and Monstrosity: Why We Should Pay Attention to the ‘Yuk Factor. Hastings Center Report 2000; (30): 7-15.
- Räikkä, J. & Rossi, K. Bioethics and the Moral Significance of ‘gut feelings’. Türkiye Klinikleri Journal of Medical Ethics, Law and History. (2004) 12, 79-82.
- Leigh Turner. Is repugnance wise? Visceral responses to biotechnology. Nature Biotechnology. 2004 Mar;22(3):269-70.
- Dan Jones. Moral psychology: The depths of disgust. (2007) June 14. Nature. Vol 447, p.768.
For a more reliable sort of ‘gastronomical knowledge’ may I suggest The Tassajara Bread Book?