This paper revisits some early applications of audio-visual imaging technologies used in physiology in a dialogue with reflections on Henri Bergson’s philosophy. It focuses on the aspects of time and memory in relation to spatial representations of movement measurements and critically discusses them from the perspective of the observing participant and the public exhibitions of scientific films. Departing from an audio-visual example, this paper is informed by a thick description of the philosophical implications and contemporary discourses surrounding the scientific inventions, (...) technologies and theories of moving image technologies, representations of time, and the measurement of bodies in motion such as those by the French physiologist Étienne-Jules Marey. The application of Bergson’s thinking will show how the scientific graphing and representations of the body through technologies inevitably stand in tension with the limits and potentials of the ‘human apparatus’ and its abilities, filters and internalised processes of perception, memory and consciousness. It proposes an ontological approach to scientific imaging technologies and a critical engagement with the ‘realism’ debate in the discourse of audio-visual media. (shrink)
Martha Nussbaum has argued in support of the view (supposedly that of Aristotle) that we can, through thought-experiments involving personal identity, find an objective foundation for moral thought without having to appeal to any authority independent of morality. I compare the thought-experiment from Plato’s Philebus that she presents as an example to other thought-experiments involving identity in the literature and argue that this reveals a tension between the sources of authority which Nussbaum invokes for her thought-experiment. I also argue (...) that each of her sources of authority presents further difficulties for her project. Finally, I argue that it is not clear that her thought-experiment is one that actually involves identity in any crucial way. As a result, the case she offers does not offer any satisfactory support for her view on the relation between identity, morality and thought-experiments, but we do gain some insights into what that relation really is along the way. (shrink)
Martha Nussbuam is one of the most prolific and original philosophers working today. Influenced by ancient philosophy, she has written on the relationship between fiction, the emotions and moral reasoning. With Amartya Sen she developed the capabilities approach to human well-being, which helped shape the UN’s Human Development Index. She is Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago.
I begin in the same friendly spirit of alliance that Martha Nussbaum refers to when she notes that â€œUtilitarianism has contributed more than any other ethical theory to the recognition of animal entitlements.â€ In purely practical terms, I welcome her attempt to show that a distinct approach to political justice not only includes animals, in a fundamental way, within its scope, but also leads to consequences that in major respects are very similar to those that have for some years (...) been advocated by utilitarians. Of the greatest possible importance, in this respect, is our agreement on the ethical imperative that we end factory farms as we know them.Every year, worldwide, tens of billions of animals suffer - and, one could add, are unable to exercise their most basic capabilities â€“ through being crowded indoors, unable to form the social groups natural to them, in many cases unable even to stretch their limbs, some of them so tightly caged that they are unable even to turn around or walk a single step. Undoubtedly, in terms of the sheer numbers involved and the vast amount of suffering that results, ending factory farming should be the priority issue for all concerned with either the welfare, the preference satisfaction, or the capabilities, of nonhuman animals. (shrink)
In "Upheavals of Thought", Martha Nussbaum offers a theory of the emotions. She argues that emotions are best conceived as thoughts, and she argues that emotion-thoughts can make valuable contributions to the moral life. She develops extensive accounts of compassion and erotic love as thoughts that are of great moral import. This paper seeks to elucidate what it means, for Nussbaum, to say that emotions are forms of thought. It raises critical questions about her conception of the structure of (...) emotion, and about her conception of compassion, in particular. Finally, the paper seeks to show how analyzing the structure, as well as the moral value, of the emotions ultimately requires entering the realm of religious ethics. (shrink)
Rawls's Law of Peoples has not gathered a great deal of public support. The reason for this, I suggest, is that it ignores the differences between the international and domestic realms as regards the methodology of reciprocal agreement. In the domestic realm, reciprocity produces both stability and respect for individual moral agency. In the international realm, we must choose between these two values seeking stable relations between states, or respect for individual moral agency. Rawls's Law of Peoples ignores the (...) stark nature of this choice by insisting that the only legitimate extension of liberal toleration abroad is the toleration of different forms of political organization. It is this attempt to overcome liberalism's tragic dilemma which, I suggest, has made Rawls's international theory less attractive than his domestic theory. I also suggest that this difficulty is at the base of the further difficulties identified by Henry Shue and Martha Nussbaum in their accompanying essays. Key Words: Rawls international toleration reciprocity state Nussbaum Shue. (shrink)
Martha Nussbaum's Poetic Justice undertakes a defense of the novel by showing it to develop the sympathetic imagination. Three parts of her argument come in for criticism, with implications for other such political defenses. Nussbaum sometimes interprets the imagination practically, sometimes theoretically; the two forms have different effects on deliberation. Nussbaum credits the novelistic tradition with fostering the imagination; her example of Hard Times interferes with establishing this general point. Nussbaum suggests an aesthetic element in literature that produces its (...) effect, but does not succeed in identifying that element so as to preserve the consequences of art while avoiding reductionism. (shrink)
The writings of Martha Nussbaum broadly defend an account of transcendence as internal, always rooted in the human context. Her account implies that any and all projects of normative theological ethics are superfluous, since they transcend the natural bounds of human experience and reason. This essay points toward a space for theology, specifically Jewish theology, in Nussbaum's work, through an analysis of her recent philosophical and autobiographical writings on Judaism. Nussbaum's account in Upheavals of Thought associates Judaism with carnality (...) and vulnerability; this essay supplements her account by pointing to a non-natural origin of emotional judgments in some of the texts Nussbaum treats. This move serves to temper the emphasis on autonomy in liberal Jewish thought, and provides an account of transcendence which can serve as the basis of a more traditional Jewish theological ethics. (shrink)
Floor Brouwer, Teunis van Rheenan, Shivcharn S. Dhillion, and Anna Martha Elgersma (eds.) Sustainable Land Management: Strategies to Cope with the Marginalisation of Agriculture Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-21 DOI 10.1007/s10806-011-9313-7 Authors Douglas Seale, 21 Turner Ridge Road, Marlborough, MA 01752, USA Journal Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics Online ISSN 1573-322X Print ISSN 1187-7863.
Renewed philosophical discourse about virtue ethics motivates the search for examples to inform and extend our thinking. In the case of environmental virtue ethics, I have decided to consult “America’s Lifestyle Expert,” Martha Stewart. Oft dismissed as a pop icon or model of domesticity, Martha’s business success is arguably a result of her claimed authority on what the good life entails and how we get it. Reviewing over 60 signed “Letters From Martha” from her monthly magazine (...) class='Hi'>Martha Stewart Living. (MSL) I explored her presentations of current environmental topics including biodiversity, obligations to animals, gardening, global warming, and reliance on technology. I find that her work ultimately makes managing a household interesting, and encourages her public to take personal pride in everyday tasks done well. These are trademark Martha Stewart “good things.” Moreover, by connecting with a large audience few philosophers or scientists ever court, she is poised to help us manage our larger planetary household (sensu Gr. “oikos”) and frame a quality of life for future generations. (shrink)
On a currently popular reading of Locke, an idea represents its cause, or what God intended to be its cause. Against Martha Bolton and my former self (among others), I argue that Locke cannot hold such a view, since it sins against his epistemology and theory of abstraction. I argue that Locke is committed to a resemblance theory of representation, with the result that ideas of secondary qualities are not representations.
Nussbaum seems to have had a spell during which she made villains heroes (and sometimes visa versa). Thus she has argued, in effect, that Steerforth is the hero of David Copperfield, and Heathcliff the most admirable character in Wuthering Heights. Here I discuss her more or less explicit claim that Alcibiades is the hero, (and Socrates the villain) in Plato’s Symposium. -/- .
There is quite a long-standing tradition according to which the morally proper treatment of animals does not rely on what we owe them, but on our benevolence. Nussbaum wishes to go beyond this tradition, because in her view we are dealing with issues of justice. Her capabilities approach secures basic entitlements for animals, on the basis of their fundamental capacities. At the same time Nussbaum wishes to retain the possibility of certain human uses of animals, and to see them as (...) morally justifiable. This article shows that these things do not go together with her capabilities approach to animal rights. More specifically, they clash with the attitude towards animals that Nussbaum's approach intends to foster in human beings. (shrink)
Nussbaum’s theory of the emotions draws heavily on the Stoic account. In her theory, emotions are a kind of value judgment or thought. This is in stark contrast to the well-known proposal from William James, who took emotions to be bodily feelings. There are various motivations for taking emotions as judgments. One main reason is that emotions are intentional mental states. They are always about something, directed at particular objects or state of affairs. For example, fear seems to involve the (...) anticipation of danger. To grief for the passing of a loved one involves the thought that someone dear to us is now gone. In Upheavals of Thought and also in her Hochelaga Lecture, Nussbaum analyzed compassion as a set of judgments, including for example the judgment that someone is experiencing serious suffering, and that the person in question does not deserve the suffering. (shrink)
In this paper, I assess Martha Nussbaum's application of the capabilities approach to non-human animals for both its philosophical merits and its potential to affect public policy. I argue that there are currently three main philosophical problems with the theory that need further attention. After discussing these problems, I show how focusing on factory farming would enable Nussbaum to demonstrate the philosophical merits of the capabilities approach as well as to suggest more powerful and effectives changes in our public (...) policies. (shrink)
Martha Nussbaum's work has been characterized by a sustained critique of Stoic ethics, insofar as that ethics denies the validity and importance of our valuing things that elude our control. This essay explores the idea that the very possibility of morality, understood as social or interpersonal ethics, presupposes that we do value such things. If my argument is right, Stoic ethics is unable to recognize the validity of morality (so understood) but can at most acknowledge duties to oneself. A (...) further implication is that moral luck, so far from undermining morality as some have held, is presupposed by the very possibility of morality. (shrink)
Common sense says that visual agnosia is impossible. It ought not exist. If an object like a safety pin or a bar of white soap is in full view, you see it, and you know what a "safety pin" or a "bar of soap" is, then you cannot fail to recognize what you see. If you identify the safety pin as "something silver and shiny like a watch or a nail clipper," or you identify the bar of white soap as (...) "a piece of paper," then common sense would dictate that either you fail to see the object, or your knowledge is somehow deficient. But visual agnosics, who make such responses, clearly do--in some sense--"see" the objects in question. Often they can, for example, make accurate and recognizable drawings of what they see. Some lack measurable visual field defects; they have a full visual field. And they clearly know what a "safety pin" or a "bar of soap" is: if allowed to touch the object, or its use is pantomimed, correct identification is immediate. "I see it now," they may say. We get a failure specifically in visual recognition, even though sufficient sensory functions and cognitive functions are demonstrably intact. Such is the mystery of visual agnosia. (shrink)
I argue for a conception of health as a person's ability to achieve or exercise a cluster of basic human activities. These basic activities are in turn specified through free-standing ethical reasoning about what constitutes a minimal conception of a human life with equal human dignity in the modern world. I arrive at this conception of health by closely following and modifying Lennart Nordenfelt's theory of health which presents health as the ability to achieve vital goals. Despite its strengths I (...) transform Nordenfelt's argument in order to overcome three significant drawbacks. Nordenfelt makes vital goals relative to each community or context and significantly reflective of personal preferences. By doing so, Nordenfelt's conception of health faces problems with both socially relative concepts of health and subjectively defined wellbeing. Moreover, Nordenfelt does not ever explicitly specify a set of vital goals. The theory of health advanced here replaces Nordenfelt's (seemingly) empty set of preferences and society-relative vital goals with a human species-wide conception of basic vital goals, or ‘central human capabilities and functionings’. These central human capabilities come out of the capabilities approach (CA) now familiar in political philosophy and economics, and particularly reflect the work of Martha Nussbaum. As a result, the health of an individual should be understood as the ability to achieve a basic cluster of beings and doings—or having the overarching capability, a meta-capability, to achieve a set of central or vital inter-related capabilities and functionings. (shrink)
The goal of this paper is to argue that pragmatists interested in social justice ought to be committed to certain objective transcultural ethical ideals. In particular, I argue that we need an objective moral account of what counts as harm and flourishing for human beings. Pragmatists are usually characterized as rejecting the tenability of, or the need for, such objective standards. Instead, the question of whether a person's life is going well or badly is supposed to be answered by appealing (...) to the standards of that person's community, appealing to ever-wider communities if necessary. The problem with this approach, I believe, is that it is far too easy to find historical and contemporary examples of communities .. (shrink)