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)
Widely hailed as one of the most significant works in modern political philosophy, John Rawls's _Political Liberalism_ defended a powerful vision of society that respects reasonable ways of life, both religious and secular. These core values have never been more critical as anxiety grows over political and religious difference and new restrictions are placed on peaceful protest and individual expression. In her introduction to the volume, Martha Nussbaum discusses the main themes of _Political Liberalism _and puts them into the (...) context of contemporary philosophical debates. (shrink)
Martha Nussbaum’s new book Political Emotions is a contribution to political philosophy and, simultaneously, a moral-psychological study of the emotions. In it, she revisits some of the most prominent themes in her 2004 book Hiding from Humanity and her 2001 treatise, Upheavals of Thought. As Nussbaum points out in the opening pages of Political Emotions, one of her goals in this work is to answer a call issued by John Rawls for a “reasonable moral psychology” that would be conceptually (...) refined and empirically grounded, since a complete theoretical account of the just society must be informed by a suitably complex, accurate conception of human emotions. On the whole, Political Emotions is a remarkably successful book that combines several areas of philosophical research in which the author’s proficiency is well known. It shows how problems that lie on the more intimate side of ethics, pertaining for instance to friendship and family life, have relevance for social justice and publi .. (shrink)
I explore the usefulness of Martha Nussbaum's capabilities approach in regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The CRPD aims at empowering people with disabilities by granting them a number of civil and political, but also economic, social and cultural rights. Implementing the CRPD will clearly be politically challenging and also very expensive for states. Thus, questions might arise as to whether the requirements set in the CRPD can be justified from an ethical (...) perspective. I will first investigate if Nussbaum's capabilities approach provides support for the rights claimed in the CRPD. Second, I will investigate to what extent Nussbaum's capabilities approach is a useful tool to set priorities among rights in the course of the implementation of the convention. This is an urgent question because seen realistically, it will not be possible to realize all rights at once and thus some rights need to receive greater priority than others. I will argue that the capabilities approach can be regarded as supporting the rights specified in the CRPD, but that it proves unable to guide the implementation process due to an insufficient grounding of the capabilities. Employing the capabilities approach thus leads to only limited results. (shrink)
What does it mean to be truly human? And, relatedly, what does it mean to be treated as truly human, and with dignity, by the state, or community, of which one is a part? To be fully human, Martha Nussbaum has argued for the better part of two decades, and argues in greater detail in “Women and Human Development”, is not only to be rational, and not only to be happy, but also to be capable - capable, for example, (...) of loving others, of thinking rationally about one's own life, of engaging in dignified labor, of interacting with the natural and political environment, of participating in a society's cultural life. A truly human life is defined by, or perhaps constituted by, these capabilities; to lack anyone of them is in some way to lack a fundamental pillar of one's humanity. Therefore, she continues, a citizen in a constitutional government is treated as fully human by the state when that person's fundamental capabilities - the capabilities which define her humanity - are, at least minimally, protected, promoted or nurtured by the state's governing authorities. Constitutional governments, then, whatever else they do, must protect, promote, or create whatever conditions are necessary for citizens to possess these fundamental capabilities . . . I will highlight and then amplify what I think is missing or underplayed in Nussbaum's treatment of capabilities and women, and that is the role that authority plays - and the role it should and should not play - in guiding states toward a recognition of their obligation to nurture, promote, or protect women's - and men's and children's - human capabilities. (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.
Martha Nussbaum defends the use of narratives, especially novels, in moral education. Reading novels not only stimulates the moral imagination, she claims, but also provides moral insights which cannot be conveyed in any other way. This paper questions several aspects of Nussbaum’s theory. First, by assuming a straightforward connection between reading fiction and moral behaviour, Nussbaum neglects a crucial distinction between emotional and real identification. Second, in stressing the importance of imagination, Nussbaum ignores love as a more genuine source (...) of altruism. Third, a system that censors literature in the name of moral education involves some risks which this paper will explore. Fourth, it is argued that Nussbaum’s preference for fiction above real-life experience is a little awkward. And finally, Nussbaum’s model for moral education turns out to be problematic not only in theory but also in practice. (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)
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)
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)
I explore the connections between love, resentment and anger, and challenge Nussbaum's assumption that love is self-seeking, leads to resentment when the benefits are withdrawn, and that anger is invariably a vicious response. I sketch an alternative view of genuine love, and of the importance of the anger that springs from seeing a loved one unjustly treated.
Throughout the 1990-ies Nussbaum, in collaboration with others, has elaborated and argued for a list of human capabilities which specifies necessary conditions of human flourishing. The capabilities approach has been enormously influential in putting issues of global development and justice, and especially justice for women, on the philosophical and political agenda. Moreover, many international agencies and institutions, including the United Nations Development Program, have started to make use of this approach. Despite of its obvious good intentions the approach deserves more (...) serious critical attention from philosophers than it has received until now. In my paper I take up some fundamental problems with Nussbaum’s philosophical framework. I will argue that Nussbaum’s conception of human nature is still (implicitly) Cartesian and, more in particular, that her conception of reason is outdated. It raises problems with respect to the question of universal values, the possibility of which Nussbaum defends by reference to the faculty of reason. (shrink)
La naturaleza interdisciplinar del "enfoque de las capacidades" ha hecho que su estudio se encuentre diseminado en un amplio espectro de revistas. Así el CA se ha asentado en las áreas de la filosofía política o la economía del desarrollo, y ha ampliado su alcance al ser utilizado como marco teórico para la creación de indicadores sobre la privación, la calidad de vida o la salud, o bien para abordar las cuestiones de la educación superior o el impacto de la (...) tecnología en la vida de las personas. Se ofrece una visión general sobre los principales conceptos empleados en ese enfoque, buscando distinguir las propuestas de A. Sen y M. Nussbaum, con el fin de analizar la idea de sostenibilidad y su incorporación en la agenda del enfoque. The interdisciplinary nature of the "Capability Approach" has resulted in its dissemination in a broad range of journals. As a result, the CA has spread to political philosophy and economic development and its scope has been expanded to be used as a theoretical framework in the creation of indicators on deprivation, quality of life or health. It has also been used to approach issues of higher education and the impact of technology on people's lives. The article offers an overview of the main concepts used in this approach, seeking to differentiate A. Sen and M. Nussbaum's proposals, in order to analyze sustainability and its inclusion in the approach agenda. (shrink)