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May 6: Martha Nussbaum and Moral Psychology

May 5, 2015

martha_nussbaum3Philosopher Martha Nussbaum, a pioneering woman in academia and a convert to Judaism in the early 1970s, was born into what she describes as an “East Coast WASP elite” family in New York on this date in 1947. A professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago and a widely published writer on ancient Greece, modern ethics, moral psychology, and topical issues, Nussbaum has also taught at Harvard (where she got her Ph.D but was denied tenure in the classics department) and Brown University. Her books include The Fragility of Goodness (1986), on ancient Greek ethics; Sex and Social Justice (1998), about feminism, law, hierarchy, and social justice; Hiding From Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law (2004), a work of moral psychology; From Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law (2010), which analyzes the feeling and instinct of disgust as a force in public debate; and several other highly esteemed books. Nussbaum holds fifty-one honorary degrees and has been awarded numerous prizes and medals. She became a bas mitsve at Temple K. A. M. Isaiah Israel in Chicago in 2008 and delivered a dvar torah about narcissism versus social justice, which you can read by clicking here.

“[T]he life that no longer trusts another human being and no longer forms ties to the political community is not a human life any longer.” —Martha Nussbaum