Recently, several psychologists, perhaps most notably Jonathan Haidt and his collaborators, have emphasized the connection between disgust and moral condemnation. Inducing disgust -- whether by hypnosis, rubbish, or fart spray -- tends to increase the severity of people's moral condemnation. Positive odors have an effect, too: Evidently, shopping-mall passersby are more likely to agree to break a dollar when approached near a pleasant-smelling bakery than when approached near a neutral-smelling store. Joshua Greene's work suggests that people have swift emotional reactions to hypothetical scenarios like smothering a noisy baby to save a roomful of hiding people, and that these emotional reactions drive moral judgments which are then clothed in reasons post-hoc. Similarly, perhaps, we find sex with a frozen chicken revolting and so morally condemn it, even if we can find no rational basis for that condemnation.
Now one possible interpretation of such results is that we have a moral module whose outputs are influenced by factors like odor and the cuteness of babies. After all, moral judgments, according to most philosophers and moral psychologists, are one thing and aesthetic judgments are another, even if the one affects the other. Philosophers have long recognized several different and distinct types of norms: moral norms, aesthetic norms, prudential norms, and epistemic norms, for example. Sometimes it is held that these different norms constrain each other in some way: For example, perhaps the immoral can never truly be beautiful or in one's self-interest, or maybe there's a moral obligation to be epistemically rational. But even if one norm is in the end completely subsumed by another, wherever there is a multiplicity of norm-types, philosophers generally treat those norms as sharply conceptually distinct.
Another possibility, though, it seems to me, is that norms mush together, not just causally (with aesthetic judgments affecting moral judgments, as a matter of psychological fact) and not just via philosophically-discovered putative contingencies (e.g., the immoral is never beautiful), but into a blurry mess where the existence of a normative judgment, maybe even a normative fact, is clear but in which the type of normativity is not best conceptualized in terms of distinct categories. This is not just the ordinary claim that normative judgments can be multi-faceted. "Facets" are by nature sharply distinct. Someone who holds to the sharp distinctness of different types of normativity might still accept, presumably will accept, that a normative judgment might have more than one dimension, e.g., an epistemic and a moral dimension. Racism might be, for example, epistemically irrational and immoral and ugly, with each of these facts a distinct facet of its counternormativity. My thought, however, is that many of our normative judgments, and perhaps also many normative facts, might not be as sharply structured as that.
Consider, for example, the following strip from Calvin and Hobbes:
(Calvin's father answers the phone at work. Calvin says, "It surrrrre is nice outside! Climb a tree! Goof off!". In the last panel Calvin says to Hobbes, "Dad harasses me with his values, so I harass him with mine.")
Is Calvin urging a certain set of moral values on his father? Or is it rather that Calvin sees prudential value in climbing trees and hopes to win his father over to a similar prudential evaluation? Or is this something more like an aesthetic worldview of Calvin's? Psychologically, I don't know that there needs to be some particular mix, in Calvin, of moral or prudential or aesthetic dimensions to his normative judgment. Need there be a fine-grained fact of the matter? Furthermore, let's suppose that Calvin is right and his father should climb a tree and goof off. What kind of "should" or blend of shouldishness is at issue? Need it be the case that the normativity is X% moral and Y% prudential? Or prudential rather than moral? Or definitely both but for distinct (if possibly overlapping) metaphysical reasons?
My core thought is this: The psychology of normativity might be a mushy mess of attractions and repulsions, of pro and con attitudes, not well characterized by sharp distinctions between the philosophers' several types of normativity. And to the extent that real normative facts are grounded in such psychological facts, they might inherit this mushiness.