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)
Uno de los más famosos legados que recibe el pensamiento moderno proveniente del estoicismo antiguo es la concepción del cosmopolitismo, a pesar de lo cual la idea original estoica cuenta con nuevos enfoques y corrientes. La filósofa e importante clasicista Martha Nussbaum ha establecido en la actualidad una de las teorías más destacables teniendo en cuenta un punto de vista explícitamente estoico. En este artículo pretendo analizar, por un lado la exposición que Nussbaum ha hecho de la ciudadanía mundial, (...) así como las discusiones críticas ulteriores que su teoría del cosmopolitismo ha originado. (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.
Here's the interview granted by Martha Nussbaum to Fabrizia Abbate about the role of preference in social dynamics. How important are aesthetic preferences in the development of moral attitudes and choices ?
Martha Nussbaum, à l'instar de Cavell ou de Murdoch, appuie sa pratique de la philosophie morale sur une analyse précise de textes littéraires. Dans cet article, on montre que ce recours à la littérature n'est pas illustratif, mais est cohérent avec un ensemble de thèses substantielles sur la nature même de la pensée morale et sur la méthode adaptée à la philosophie morale. C'est parce qu'elle accorde un poids particulier aux êtres et aux objets particuliers en éthique, ainsi qu'aux (...) conflits, et à la portée cognitive des émotions que Nussbaum peut considérer certains textes littéraires particuliers comme des exemples de philosophie morale. Cela explique également certaines caractéristiques de son propre style philosophique, en particulier son usage particulier du « je ». For Martha Nussbaum, as well as for Cavell or Murdoch, moral philosophy relies heavily on detailed analysis of literary texts. This paper shows that this use of literature in ethics, far from being only illustrative, is consistent with a set of substantial thesis on the nature of moral thought and on the method appropriate for moral philosophy. Nussbaum considers that some literary texts are instances of moral philosophy because she sees the individuality of beings and things, as well as conflicts, as crucial elements in ethics, and also because she attributes to emotions a cognitive aspect. These characteristics shed some light on some particularities of her own style, such as a remarkable use of the first person. (shrink)
A partir del análisis crítico que Martha Nussbaum realizara sobre la obra de Judith Butler, proponemos examinar el vínculo entre la reflexión filosófica y la práctica política en el marco del feminismo. Para ello analizaremos el modo en que cada una de estas autoras reflexiona en torno al lenguaje, las identidades, el poder, la dominación y las formas de subvertirla.
El artículo propone centrar la mirada en el “enfoque de las capacidades” desarrollado por la filósofa Martha Nussbaum, presentado como la base filosófica para una teoría de los derechos básicos de los seres humanos, cuyo respeto representa el requisito mínimo de lo que la autora entiende por dignidad humana. Las “capacidades humanas”, definidas como aquello que las personas son efectivamente capaces de hacer y ser en el marco de una vida humana digna, permitirían plantear desde esta perspectiva, la idea (...) de un mínimo social básico de justicia. (shrink)
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)
El libro está constituido por un conjunto de ensayos de carácter multidisciplinario sobre diferentes visiones del concepto de calidad de vida, presentados en una conferencia realizada en Helsinski durante el mes de julio de 1988 organizada por Martha Nussbaum y Amartya Sen. La obra probablemente constituye el resultado de un primer gran esfuerzo de carácter internacional por confrontar ideas entre filósofos, sociólogos, médicos y economistas con el objeto de replantear el concepto de desarrol..
Midway in Martha Holstein’s article, these words occur: “[P]eople [should] get the help they need, when they need it, in the way that they would like to receive it, without exploiting family members or imperiling their dignity or self-respect” (24). In an essay that brims over with worrisome news, that this seemingly anodyne sentence appears in the section devoted to utopian thinking is perhaps the most dispiriting thought it conveys. Not that there isn’t keen competition for the role. Holstein (...) reminds her readers that the roots of the present and building crisis in long-term care sink deeply into an ideology especially entrenched in the United States; she suggests, as well, that the pernicious norms .. (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. -/- .
In this paper I discuss some of Martha Nussbaum’s defenses of Epicurean views about death and immortality. Here I seek to defend the commonsense view that death can be a bad thing for an individual against the Epicurean; I also defend the claim that immortality might conceivably be a good thing. In the development of my analysis, I make certain connections between the literatures on free will and death. The intersection of these two literatures can be illuminated by reference (...) to my notion of a Dialectical Stalemate. (shrink)
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)
In view of recent articles citing the Stoics as a defence or refutation of cosmopolitanism it is legitimate to ask whether the Stoics did in fact have an argument for cosmopolitanism which may be useful to contemporary political philosophers. I begin by discussing an interpretation of Stoic views on cosmopolitanism by Martha Nussbaum and A.A. Long and show that the arguments they attribute to the Stoics are not tenable in the light of present day philosophy. I then argue that (...) the Stoics did offer a very different argument for cosmopolitanism which is both more interesting and more plausible in that it draws on a conception of human nature similar to Aristotles and contemporary virtue ethics. Lastly I consider an objection made to their particular brand of cosmopolitanism by Martha Nussbaum, namely that a Stoic cosmopolitan life is devoid of personal affiliation and therefore unbearably lonely. I argue that this objection is in fact unfounded. (shrink)
Martha Nussbaum has powerfully argued in Frontiers ofJustice and elsewhere that John Rawls’s sort of social-contract theory cannot usefully be deployed to deal with issues pertaining to justice for the disabled. To counter this claim, this article deploys Rawls’s sort of social-contract theory in order to deal with issues pertaining to justice for the disabled—or, since, as Nussbaum stresses, we all have some degree of disability—for the severely disabled. In this way, rather than questioning one by one Nussbaum’s interpretive (...) claims about Rawls’s view, one can simply see how the Rawlsian framework can work in application to this issue. Following Rawls’s lead, the paper utilizes the idealized “initial choice situation” as an analytic and comparative device for examining alternative principles of justice, developing three different interpretations of the initial choice situation that each correspond to a different set of principles that apply to people of all levels of disability. One of these sets of principles is a simple extension of Rawls’s, one is very close to what Nussbaum herself recommends, and the third is a kind of hybrid. In this way, it is shown not only that Rawls’s social-contract device can usefully be applied to these issues, but also that it is helpful for exploring the deep commitments underlying each of these competing sets of principles. (shrink)
This is a critical study of Martha Nussbaum’s Hiding from Humanity. Central to Nussbaum’s book are arguments against society’s or the state’s using disgust and shame to forward the aims of the criminal law. Patrick Devlin’s appeal to the common man’s disgust to determine what acts of customary morality should be made criminal is an example of how society might use disgust to forward the aims of the criminal law. The use of so-called shaming penalties as alternative sanctions to (...) imprisonment is an example of how society might use shame for this purpose. I argue that despite Nussbaum’s own view to the contrary, her arguments against such uses of disgust and shame are best understood as criticisms of programs of conservative political philosophy like Devlin’s and not of the emotions themselves. (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)
This paper is written from a perspective that is sympathetic to the basic idea of the capability approach. Our aim is to compare Martha Nussbaum’s capability theory of justice with Alan Gewirth’s moral theory, on two points: the selection and the justification of a list of central capabilities. On both counts, we contend that Nussbaum’s theory suffers from flaws that Gewirth’s theory may help to remedy. First, we argue that her notion of a (dignified) human life cannot fulfill the (...) role of a normative criterion that Nussbaum wants it to play in selecting capabilities for her list. Second, we question whether Nussbaum’s method of justification is adequate, discussing both her earlier self-validating argumentative strategy and her more recent adherence to the device of an overlapping consensus. We conclude that both strategies fail to provide the capabilities theory with the firm foundation it requires. Next, we turn to Gewirth’s normative theory and discuss how it can repair these flaws. We show how his theory starts from a fundamental moral principle according to which all agents have rights to the protection of the necessary preconditions of their agency. Gewirth’s justification of this principle is then presented, using a version of a transcendental argument. Finally, we explicitly compare Nussbaum and Gewirth and briefly demonstrate what it would mean for Nussbaum to incorporate Gewirthian elements into her capabilities theory of justice. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that Martha Nussbaums Aristotelian analysis of compassion and pity is faulty, largely because she fails to distinguish between (a) an emotions basic constitutive conditions and the associated constitutive or intrinsic norms, (b) extrinsic normative conditions, for instance, instrumental and moral considerations, and (c) the causal conditions under which emotion is most likely to be experienced. I also argue that her defense of compassion and pity as morally valuable emotions is inadequate because she treats a (...) wide variety of objections as all stemming from a common commitment to a Stoic conception of the good. I argue that these objections can be construed as neutral between conceptions of the good. I conclude by arguing that construed in this way there are nonetheless plausible replies to these objections. (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)