Martha Nussbaum

Martha Nussbaum Picture

Martha Craven Nussbaum is an American philosopher of the current times. She is well-versed in Roman and ancient Greek philosophy. Her ideas deal with politics, feminism, ethics and morals. She has also worked greatly for both human and animal rights.

Nussbaum has successfully been able to produce a myriad of articles and books. Apart from her literary works, she is a renowned personality among the masses, discussing Greek philosophy and theories of Plato on various media channels. She regularly reviews books for The New York Review of Books and New Republic; her articles are a must-read for anyone with an appetite for intellectual debate.

In her book, The Fragility of Goodness, Martha discusses the fact that even if a human being is a follower of order and justice, he is helpless and vulnerable to harm and damage, and is more vulnerable to factors which can hinder his development. She entirely rejects Plato’s idea of defense against harm through morality and goodness, and supports Aristotle’s view of recognizing this potential threat as a way through which human goodness can be appreciated. Her book was widely praised in academic circles and mass media alike.

In her book Cultivating Humanity, Nussbaum reaches out to classical Greek philosophy to support her proposed reforms of liberal education. She debates about the role played by literature as a teacher of morals and ethics, and defends the presence of cultural diversity in a society. She supported this book by further literary work, by publishing Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities in 2010, in which she speaks in favor of liberal arts and the threat posed to it globally.

In Sex and Social Justice, she links the issues faced by the causes of social justice and feminism, by stating that sex and sexuality are irrelevant differences created by society to maintain its hierarchy. She also speaks out against objectification of women, especially through pornography, while simultaneously voicing her support for the legalization of prostitution. She also strongly condemns female genital mutilation practicing, citing its health risks.

Nussbaum’s From Disgust to Humanity:Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law was published in 2010. In this book, she presents her philosophy of ‘politics of disgust’, according to which some legal issues like gay and lesbian rights, segregation, caste system, et cetera are simply there not because they cause actual harm, but merely because they cause an emotion of disgust among the people. This politics of disgust continues to violate the principles of equality and justice, without having any rational groun.

Nussbaum, in the ‘80s, joined forces with economist Amartya Sen and presented the theory of ‘Capabilities Approach’. Together they published The Quality of Life in 1993. The theory of capability approach’ deals with human development. It suggests that development should not only be measured in terms of economy, but also in terms of capabilities, such as voting, living to an old age and performing business et cetera. Thus welfare is not simply physical, it is also potential, that is, the ability of a person should also be considered as a development in the economics of welfare.

Marta Nussbaum has reached the status of the most renowned female American philosopher of the modern times. She holds fifty honorary degrees from universities around the globe. She also serves as the professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, having previously taught law and philosophy at Harvard, Brown and Oxford.

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