Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Martha Nussbaum (born Martha Craven on May 6, 1947) is an American philosopher, with a particular interest in ancient philosophy, law and ethics. She was born in New York, the daughter of George Craven, a Philadelphia lawyer, and Betty Warren, a homemaker. She studied theatre and classics at New York University (NYU) (BA 1969), gradually moving to philosophy while at Harvard (MA 1972; PhD 1975). This period also saw her marriage to Alan Nussbaum (divorced in 1987), conversion to Judaism, and the birth of her daughter Rachel.
During the 1980s Nussbaum began a collaboration with economist Amartya Sen on issues of development and ethics. With Sen, she promoted the "capability approach" to development, which views capabilities ("substantial freedoms", such as the ability to live to old age, engage in economic transactions, or participate in political activities) as the constitutive parts of development, and poverty as capability-deprivation. This contrasts with a common view that sees development purely in terms of GNP growth, and poverty purely as income-deprivation. It is also universalist, and therefore contrasts with relativist approaches to development. Much of the work is presented from an Aristotelian perspective.
Nussbaum has used the capability approach to reinterpret John Rawls's Theory of Justice. For her, Rawls's Liberty Principle is only meaningful if viewed in terms of substantial freedoms, i.e. real opportunities based on personal and social circumstance. Likewise, inequality in the Difference Principle has to be clarified in terms of capabilities.
- Aristotle's De Motu Animalium (1978)
- The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy (1986)
- Love's Knowledge (1990)
- The Therapy of Desire (1994)
- Poetic Justice (1996)
- For Love of Country (1996)
- Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education (1997)
- Sex and Social Justice (1998)
- Women and Human Development (2000)
- Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions (2001)
- Hiding From Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law (2004)
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