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If Oxfam ran the world

Martha Nussbaum, 4 September 1997

Living High and Letting Die: Our Illusion of Innocence 
by Peter Unger.
Oxford, 187 pp., £35, October 1996, 0 19 507584 6
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... The basic life chances of human beings vary dramatically around the world. According to the 1996 Report of the United Nations Development Programme, the life expectancy of a child born today in Sierra Leone is 39.2 years, the life expectancy of a child born in Japan 79.6 years (US 76.1, UK 76.3). In the developing world, daily calorie supply per capita ranges from 3223 in Barbados to 1505 in Somalia ...

Do not disturb

Bernard Williams, 20 October 1994

The Therapy of Desire: Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics 
by Martha Nussbaum.
Princeton, 558 pp., £22.50, June 1994, 0 691 03342 0
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... and to have influence in the Roman world, and indeed some of the principal sources on which Martha Nussbaum draws in her rich and interesting book were written in Latin. It is a work of scholarship, with many references and exegetical notes, but Nussbaum makes it very clear throughout that she regards the issues ...

Rat Poison

David Bromwich, 17 October 1996

Poetic Justice: The Literary Imagination and Public Life 
by Martha Nussbaum.
Beacon, 143 pp., $20, February 1996, 0 8070 4108 4
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... Martha Nussbaum is a classical scholar and moral philosopher who in several books and a great many essays has advanced a thesis about the cognitive power of emotions. Feeling, she says, is part of thought. Only accidents of usage and the rationalist prepossessions of modern philosophy could have made us think otherwise ...

How do they see you?

Elizabeth Spelman: Martha Nussbaum, 16 November 2000

Sex and Social Justice 
by Martha Nussbaum.
Oxford, 476 pp., £25, July 1999, 0 19 511032 3
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Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach 
by Martha Nussbaum.
Cambridge, 312 pp., £17.95, May 2000, 0 521 66086 6
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... of boozing at conventions. So what do philosophers talk about when they talk about sex? Well, as Martha Nussbaum’s two recent books illustrate, more than enough issues to keep social theorists, ethicists, legal scholars and hoteliers in business for a long time: topics that arise in connection with the regulation of sexual activity (e.g. gay and ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: The Open Left Project, 27 August 2009

... of opportunity to ‘equality of capability’, a phrase nicked from the work of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum. Except that, not having the Aristotle, he doesn’t mean it quite the way they do. The Open Left project is sponsored and overseen by Demos, one of those nifty think-tanks where besuited young people talk about the emerging shape of the 21st ...


Stephen Mulhall: The intolerance of liberalism, 22 July 2004

Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame and the Law 
by Martha Nussbaum.
Princeton, 413 pp., £19.95, April 2004, 0 691 09526 4
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... of this kind can honestly avoid the charge of subverting its defining claim to neutrality. Martha Nussbaum’s new book, which analyses how far responses of shame and disgust should form the basis of lawmaking, explicitly presents itself as furthering this kind of liberal project; but she also brings to it a range of other concerns from her ...

Dive In!

Bruce Robbins: Hegelian reflections, 2 November 2000

Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in 20th-Century France 
by Judith Butler.
Columbia, 268 pp., £12, June 1999, 0 231 06451 9
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... left unmentioned, for example, in last year’s much-discussed broadside in the New Republic by Martha Nussbaum. To catch Butler in the act of not thinking about sex is no doubt less interesting to her more gladiatorial critics than skewering her for her deconstructive sins. Some will certainly find it inconvenient that, as this book reveals, her ...

Let every faction bloom

John Patrick Diggins, 6 March 1997

For Love of Country: Debating the Limits of Patriotism 
edited by Joshua Cohen.
Beacon, 154 pp., $15, August 1996, 0 8070 4313 3
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For Love of Country: An Essay on Patriotism and Nationalism 
by Maurizio Viroli.
Oxford, 214 pp., £22.50, September 1995, 0 19 827952 3
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Bonds of Affection: Americans Define Their Patriotism 
edited by John Bodnar.
Princeton, 352 pp., £45, September 1996, 0 691 04397 3
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Buring the Flag: The Great 1989-90 American Flag Desecration Controversy 
by Robert Justin Goldstein.
Kent State, 453 pp., $39, July 1996, 0 87338 526 8
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... It is no coincidence that the latest debate over patriotism should have begun when the philosopher Martha Nussbaum, with her Sixties sensibilities, responded to a New York Times op-ed article by Richard Rorty, a relatively senior philosopher who identifies with the Old Left of the Forties. Rorty had urged young Americans, especially Leftists, to cease ...

How to Write It

Sanjay Subrahmanyam: India after Independence, 20 September 2007

India after Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy 
by Ramachandra Guha.
Macmillan, 900 pp., £25, April 2007, 978 0 230 01654 5
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The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence and India’s Future 
by Martha Nussbaum.
Belknap, 403 pp., £19.95, June 2007, 978 0 674 02482 3
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... with others in the field. The problem of narrative exposition finds a quite different solution in Martha Nussbaum’s The Clash Within, a book less than half the size of Guha’s doorstop. After training in Hellenistic philosophy and the interpretation of Aristotle, Nussbaum has begun in recent years to write far more ...

Third Natures

Christopher Minkowski: The Kāmasūtra, 21 June 2018

Redeeming the ‘Kamasutra’ 
by Wendy Doniger.
Oxford, 181 pp., £14.99, March 2016, 978 0 19 049928 0
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... downsized version of Hinduism’. With developments in India and the US in mind, Doniger and Martha Nussbaum edited a collection of essays by Indian and American writers called Pluralism and Democracy in India: Debating the Hindu Right. The volume appeared in 2015, but the articles look back to questions thrown up by the first BJP government. The ...

Speaking Azza

Martin Jay: Where are you coming from?, 28 November 2002

Situatedness; Or, Why We Keep Saying Where We’re Coming From 
by David Simpson.
Duke, 290 pp., £14.50, March 2002, 0 8223 2839 9
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... and aporias, when it should be providing ways of going beyond them. Against thinkers such as Martha Nussbaum and Richard Rorty, he refuses to celebrate the literary as a way to avoid or perpetually defer addressing hard epistemological questions as to how we can know a real world whose solidity cannot be dissolved even by the most imaginative ...

Nutty Professors

Hal Foster: ‘Lingua Franca’, 8 May 2003

Quick Studies: The Best of ‘Lingua Franca’ 
edited by Alexander Star.
Farrar, Straus, 514 pp., $18, September 2002, 0 374 52863 2
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... and went straight to law school). Another telling story concerns the after-trial tribulations of Martha Nussbaum, who, as an expert witness in the 1993 Colorado Amendment 2 Case involving gay rights, appeared to fudge the meaning of a Greek word for anal intercourse as well as the attitude of Plato and other ancients to it. Sympathetic to ...

Not Not To Be

Malcolm Schofield: Aristotle’s legacy, 17 February 2005

A New History of Western Philosophy. Vol. I: Ancient Philosophy 
by Anthony Kenny.
Oxford, 341 pp., £17.99, June 2005, 0 19 875273 3
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... or more specific historical contexts. A.A. Long’s recent book on Epictetus, like the work of Martha Nussbaum and Richard Sorabji on ancient philosophical therapy, reminds us of something lost in the modern academy and not at all prominent in Kenny, but regarded by all major Greek and Roman thinkers from Socrates on as the heart of the matter: the ...

Does marmalade exist?

Terry Eagleton, 27 January 2022

The Concept of the Social: Scepticism, Idleness and Utopia 
by Malcolm Bull.
Verso, 243 pp., £16.99, October 2021, 978 1 84467 293 6
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... magnetism and the politics of sleep? There is scarcely a major philosopher from Heraclitus to Martha Nussbaum whose work Bull hasn’t made inventive use of, though Freud is a curious absence. He is formidably erudite, yet writes modest, lucid prose. By trade he is an art historian, though only two of his full-length studies reveal the fact. One is ...

Let them eat oysters

Lorna Finlayson: Animal Ethics, 5 October 2023

Animal Liberation Now 
by Peter Singer.
Penguin, 368 pp., £20, June, 978 1 84792 776 7
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Justice for Animals 
by Martha Nussbaum.
Simon & Schuster, 372 pp., £16, January, 978 1 9821 0250 0
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... not majority) views, but other people have arrived at similar conclusions via different routes.Martha Nussbaum​ ’s preferred approach is Aristotelian. What matters is the flourishing of each creature in its distinctive ‘form of life’. Nussbaum is critical of the utilitarian tendency to treat humans and ...

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