Virtue ethics is frequently considered to be a single category of ethical theory, and a rival to Kantianismand Utilitarianism. I argue that this approach is a mistake, because both Kantians and Utilitarians can, and do, have an interest in the virtues and the forrnation of character. But even if we focus on the group of ethical theorists who are most commonly called "virtue theorists" because they reject the guidance of both Kantianism and Utilitarianism, and derive inspiration from ancient Greek ethics, (...) there is little unity to this group. Although there is a thin common ground that links all the group's members - a focus on the formation of character, on the nature of the passions, and on choice over the whole course of life - there are also crucial differences among them. (shrink)
Feminists have sometimes argued that philosophical theories of justice deriving from the liberal tradition cannot deal adequately with the concerns of women. I argue that in many ways this contention is mistaken: the best liberal theories of justice provide a very strong basis for thinking about what respect for human dignity requires. There are, however, two areas pertinent to sex equality in which even the strongest liberal theories have grave difficulty. First is the area of need and dependency. All theories (...) of justice and morality deriving from the European social contract tradition fail to build into the basic social structure concern for care in times of asymmetrical dependency. The second problem I investigate is the problem of just distribution within the family. Focusing on the theory of John Rawls, I argue that his liberal commitment to seeing the family as a sphere of protected personal choice is in tension with his admission that the family is part of the "basic structure" of society. Moreover, the family does not exist by nature: it is always a construct of state action. The state should therefore make sure that this constructing is done well, compatibly with justice for women and children. (shrink)
Este artículo pretende mostrar la crucial importancia de la conversación en la obra Der Stechlin de Fontane. Frente al tradicional desarrollo de la trama literaria, que centra la atención en el drama de los conflictos (complicación y desenlace, tensión y sorpresa, conflicto romántico, etc.), en esta novela no encontramos nada de eso y, entonces, aparentemente, no ha pasado nada. No obstante, este juicio inicial queda desacreditado en la medida en que, compartiendo las conversaciones que entablan los personajes de Der Stechlin, (...) vamos entrando en su mundo personal y terminamos por convertirnos en “amigos” de ellos. Esto lleva a revisar nuestras experiencias literarias ordinarias con mirada crítica: ¿qué manera es esa de tratar a una persona? Se sostiene, entonces, que lo que preocupa a Fontane es el peso de las narrativas sociales por encima de la imaginación amistosa, y de ahí que Fontane nos exija ver a estos “amigos” (personajes) sin recurrir a ciertos tipos de narrativas socialmente transmitidas. Leer Der Stechlin invita, así, a no generalizar a las personas apresuradamente, a no entenderlas a partir de ciertos guiones o mitos socialmente establecidos. (shrink)
This volume collects the notable published book reviews of Martha C. Nussbaum, a philosopher and high profile public intellectual who comments often on issues in philosophy, politics, gender equality, economics, and the law. Many of her engagements have been through the medium of the book review, which she has published prolifically in academic journals and in high profile venues like The New Republic and The New York Times for over 20 years. This volume collects 25 of what she considers to (...) be her key reviews. The reviews date from 1986 and range to the present, and engage with authors like Roger Scruton, Allan Bloom, Charles Taylor, Judith Butler, Richard Posner, Catherine MacKinnon, and other prominent intellectuals of our time. Throughout, her views defy ideological predictability, heralding interesting work from unlikely sources, deftly critiquing where it is deserved, and generally providing a compelling picture of how intellectuals might engage with broad social concerns. Nussbaum will provide a new introduction that explains her selection, and provides her view of the role of public intellectuals. (shrink)
Since Rawls's Political Liberalism is by now the subject of a wide and deep philosophical literature, much of it excellent in quality, it would be foolhardy to attempt to say something about each of the major issues of the work, or to sort through debates that can easily be located elsewhere. I have therefore decided to focus on a small number of issues where there is at least some chance that a fresh approach may yield some new understanding of the (...) text: Rawls's distinction between “reasonable” and “unreasonable” comprehensive doctrines; the psychological underpinnings of political liberalism; and the possibility that political liberalism might be extended beyond the small group of modern Western societies that Rawls's historical remarks suggest as its primary focus. I also include a discussion of the much-debated issue of civility and public reason, which could hardly be avoided given its prominence in the book's reception. This paper should therefore be read not as a comprehensive account of the work but as one person's attempt to grapple, very incompletely and imperfectly, with a book that is as great as any philosophy has seen on this topic of great human urgency. (shrink)
“Philosophy is constitutive of good citizenship. It becomes part of what you are when you are a good citizen – a thoughtful person. Philosophy has manyroles. It can be just fun, a game that you play. It can be a way you try to approach your own death or illness, or that of a family member. I’m just focusing on the place where I think I can win over people, and say ‘Look here, you do care about democracy don’t you? (...) Then you’d better see that philosophy has a place.’”. (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.
Martha Nussbaum (2007). Ethics of Narration. In Peter Gratton, John Panteleimon Manoussakis & Richard Kearney (eds.), Traversing the Imaginary: Richard Kearney and the Postmodern Challenge. Northwestern University Press.
John Fischer challenges me to defend my arguments regarding the badness of death; I sharpen my position, but make some concessions, discussing the possibility of postmortem harm. In response to John Deigh, I defend the account of disgust given in Hiding from Humanity, together with the research of Paul Rozin that I follow there. I discuss Patrick Devlin’s conservative position, agree that we need to object to its emphasis on solidarity, not only to its emphasis on disgust, and argue that (...) Deigh’s statement of Devlin’s position is too kind to Devlin. In response to Henry Richardson, I summarize my reasons for thinking that the classical social contract tradition cannot handle well the problems posed by the issue of justice for people with disabilities, and that even Rawls’s position requires major modification if it is to do so. I explore differences between Richardson’s position and my own on the issues of self-respect, liberty, and primary goods. (shrink)
All modern liberal democracies have strong reasons to support an idea of toleration, understood as involving respect, not only grudging acceptance, and to extend it to all religious and secular doctrines, limiting only conduct that violates the rights of other citizens. There is no modern democracy, however, in which toleration of this sort is a stable achievement. Why is toleration, attractive in principle, so difficult to achieve? The normative case for toleration was well articulated by John Locke in his influential (...) A Letter Concerning Toleration , although his attractive proposal thus rests on a fragile foundation. Kant did much more, combining a Lockean account of the state with a profound diagnosis of radical evil, the tendencies in all human beings to militate against stable toleration and respect. But Kant proposed no mechanism through which the state might mitigate the harmful influence of radical evil, thus rendering toleration stable. One solution to this problem was proposed by Rousseau, but it has deep problems. How, then, can a respectful pluralistic society shore up the fragile human basis of toleration, especially in a world in which we need to cultivate toleration not only within each state, but also among peoples and states, in this interlocking world? Key Words: toleration emotion evil liberal democracy Locke Mill Kant Rousseau. (shrink)
Cass Sunstein and Martha Nussbaum bring together an all-star cast of contributors to explore the legal and political issues that underlie the campaign for animal rights and the opposition to it. Addressing ethical questions about ownership, protection against unjustified suffering, and the ability of animals to make their own choices free from human control, the authors offer numerous different perspectives on animal rights and animal welfare. They show that whatever one's ultimate conclusions, the relationship between human beings and nonhuman animals (...) is being fundamentally rethought. This book offers a state-of-the-art treatment of that rethinking. (shrink)
Valadez' book is an excellent investigation of the question of group rights. Nonetheless, there are some serious objections to group rights that he does not investigate. Groups contain hierarchies of power: thus giving legal privileges to a group is usually tantamount to giving more power to those already in power within the group. Groups have unclear and changing boundaries of membership; group rights often reify the current definition of a group and militate against change. Finally, there are 'dispersed groups' that (...) may be very important in people's identity, but that do not figure in the usual discussions of group ethno-cultural rights; the group of women, groups defined by sexual orientation, profession or the love of something. Such groups are unlikely to win legal privileges but then, giving legal privileges to the ethno-cultural groups makes them more salient by contrast with the 'dispersed groups'. I investigate these points, using a variety of examples. Key Words: group rights identity race Valadez women. (shrink)
Higher education makes an importantcontribution to citizenship. In the UnitedStates, the required portion of the ``liberalarts education'' in colleges and universitiescan be reformed so as to equip students for thechallenges of global citizenship. The paperadvocates focusing on three abilities: theSocratic ability to critize one's owntraditions and to carry on an argument on termsof mutual respect for reason; (2) the abilityto think as a citizen of the whole world, notjust some local region or group; and (3) the``narrative imagination,'' the ability to (...) imaginewhat it would be like to be in the position ofsomeone very different from oneself. The paperdiscusses the role of the ``liberal arts''curriculum in U.S. education and asks howEuropean universities, with their differentstructure, might promote these three abilities. (shrink)
John Rawls argues, in The Law of Peoples , that a principle of toleration requires the international community to respect `decent hierarchical societies' that obey certain minimal human rights norms. In this article, I question that line of argument, using women's inequality as a lens. I show that Rawls's principle would require us to treat the very same practices of the very same entity differently if it happens to set up as an independent nation rather than a state within a (...) nation, and I criticize the consequences to which this asymmetry leads. I argue that Rawls gives us no good reason to think that we cannot justify a much richer set of norms for all the world's societies. I argue, however, that issues of justification should be sharply distinguished from issues of implementation, and that respect for the moral significance of national sovereignty ought to restrain us from intervention in all but the most extreme cases. Key Words: Rawls women equality international relations justice. (shrink)