Martha Nussbaum and the Foundations of Ethics: Identity, Morality and Thought-Experiments

South African Journal of Philosophy 28 (3):261-270 (2009)
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.
Keywords thought-experiments  personal identity  Martha Nussbaum
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.4314/sajpem.v28i3.47857
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Our Identity, Responsibility and Biology.Simon Beck - 2004 - Philosophical Papers:3-14.
Thought Experiments and Personal Identity.Stephen R. Coleman - 2000 - Philosophical Studies 98 (1):51-66.
Why Thought Experiments Are Not Arguments.Michael A. Bishop - 1999 - Philosophy of Science 66 (4):534-541.
Cognition, Persons, Identity.Simon Beck - 2003 - Alternation 10 (1):195-215.
Empirical Thought Experiments: A Trascendental-Operational View.Buzzoni Marco - 2010 - Epistemologia. An Italian Journal for the Philosophy of Science 33:05-26.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

308 ( #9,735 of 2,168,179 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

32 ( #9,274 of 2,168,179 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums