Martha C. Nussbaum

Martha Nussbaum
Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor
LBQ 520
Office Hours: Autumn Quarter, Wednesdays: 2:00 - 4:00 pm
773.702.0303
Harvard University, PhD
Research Interests: Law, Ethics, Human Rights, Ancient Philosophy

Martha C. Nussbaum received her BA from NYU and her MA and PhD from Harvard. She has taught at Harvard, Brown, and Oxford Universities and is currently the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, appointed in the Department of Philosophy and the Law School. She is an Associate in the Classics Department, the Divinity School, and the Political Science Department and a Member of the Committee on Southern Asian Studies. Professor Nussbaum is internationally renowned for her work in Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, feminist philosophy, political philosophy, and philosophy and the arts and is actively engaged in teaching and advising students in these subjects. She has received numerous awards and honorary degrees and is the author of many books and articles. For an up-to-date description, please see her University of Chicago Law School webpage here. Professor Nussbaum's CV is available from her upon request.

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Recent Courses

PHIL 21901/31900 Feminist Philosophy

(LAWS 47701, GNSE 29600, HMRT 31900, PLSC 51900, RETH 41000)

The course is an introduction to the major varieties of philosophical feminism. After studying some key historical texts in the Western tradition (Wollstonecraft, Rousseau, J. S. Mill), we examine four types of contemporary philosophical feminism: Liberal Feminism (Susan Moller Okin, Martha Nussbaum), Radical Feminism (Catharine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin), Difference Feminism (Carol Gilligan, Annette Baier, Nel Noddings), and Postmodern "Queer" Gender Theory and trans femism (Judith Butler, Michael Warner and others). After studying each of these approaches, we will focus on political and ethical problems of contemporary international feminism, asking how well each of the approaches addresses these problems. (A)

Undergraduates may enroll only with the permission of the instructor.

2018-2019 Spring
Category
Feminist Philosophy
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 25818/35818 Stoic Ethics Through Roman Eyes

(CLCV 25818, CLAS 35818, LAWS 97121, PLSC 25818, PLSC 35818, RETH 35818)

The major ideas of the Stoic school about virtue, appropriate action, emotion, and how to live in harmony with the rational structure of the universe are preserved in Greek only in fragmentary texts and incomplete summaries. But the Roman philosophers give us much more, and we will study closely a group of key texts from Cicero and Seneca, including Cicero's De Finibus book III, his Tusculan Disputations book IV, a group of Seneca's letters, and, finally, a short extract from Cicero's De Officiis, to get a sense of Stoic political thought. For fun we will also read a few letters of Cicero's where he makes it clear that he is unable to follow the Stoics in the crises of his own life. We will try to understand why Stoicism had such deep and wide influence at Rome, influencing statesmen, poets, and many others, and becoming so to speak the religion of the Roman world. (A)

Ability to read the material in Latin at a sufficiently high level, usually about two-three years at the college level. Assignment will usually be about 8 Oxford Classical Text pages per week, and in-class translation will be the norm.

2018-2019 Winter
Category
Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 51404 Global Inequality

(LAWS 53294, PLSC 51404, RETH 51404)

Global income and wealth are highly concentrated. The richest 2% of the population own about half of the global assets. Per capita income in the United States is around $47,000 and in Europe it is around $30,500, while in India it is $3,400 and in Congo, it is $329. There are equally unsettling inequalities in longevity, health, and education. In this interdisciplinary seminar, we ask what duties nations and individuals have to address these inequalities and what are the best strategies for doing so. What role must each country play in helping itself? What is the role of international agreements and agencies, of NGOs, of political institutions, and of corporations in addressing global poverty? How do we weigh policies that emphasize growth against policies that emphasize within-country equality, health, or education? In seeking answers to these questions, the class will combine readings on the law and economics of global development with readings on the philosophy of global justice. A particular focus will be on the role that legal institutions, both domestic and international, play in discharging these duties. For, example, we might focus on how a nation with natural resources can design legal institutions to ensure they are exploited for the benefit of the citizens of the country.

Students will be expected to write a paper, which may qualify for substantial writing credit. This is a seminar scheduled through the Law School, but happy to admit by permission about ten non-law students.

Martha C. Nussbaum, D. Weisbach
2018-2019 Winter
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 55818 Hellenistic Ethics

(CLAS 45818, LAWS 43206, PLSC 55818, RETH 55818)

The three leading schools of the Hellenistic era (starting in Greece in the late fourth century B. C. E. and extending through the second century C. E. in Rome) - Epicureans, Skeptics, and Stoics - produced philosophical work of lasting value, frequently neglected because of the fragmentary nature of the Greek evidence and people's (unjustified) contempt for Roman philosophy. We will study in a detailed and philosophically careful way the major ethical arguments of all three schools. Topics to be addressed include: the nature and role of pleasure; the role of the fear of death in human life; other sources of disturbance (such as having definite ethical beliefs?); the nature of the emotions and their role in a moral life; the nature of appropriate action; the meaning of the injunction to "live in accordance with nature". If time permits we will say something about Stoic political philosophy and its idea of global duty. Major sources (read in English) will include the three surviving letters of Epicurus and other fragments; the skeptical writings of Sextus Empiricus; the presentation of Stoic ideas in the Greek biographer Diogenes Laertius and the Roman philosophers Cicero and Seneca. This course complements the Latin course on Stoic Ethics in the Winter quarter, and many will enjoy doing both. (IV)

Admission by permission of the instructor. Permission must be sought in writing by September 15. An undergraduate major in philosophy or some equivalent solid philosophy preparation, plus my permission. This is a 500 level course. Ph.D. students in Philosophy, Classics, and Political Theory may enroll without permission.

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
Ancient Philosophy
Ethics/Metaethics

PHIL 21102/31102 Opera As Idea and As Performance

(MUSI 24416, MUSI 30716, LAWS 43264)

Is opera an archaic and exotic pageant for fanciers of overweight canaries, or a relevant art form of great subtlety and complexity that has the power to be revelatory? In this course of eight sessions, jointly taught by Professor Martha Nussbaum and Anthony Freud, General Director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, we explore the multi-disciplinary nature of this elusive and much-maligned art form, with its four hundred-year-old European roots, discussing both historic and philosophical contexts and the practicalities of interpretation and production in a very un-European, twenty-first century city. Anchoring each session around a different opera, we will be joined by a variety of guest experts, including a director, conductor, designer and singer, to enable us to explore different perspectives. The tentative list of operas to be discussed include Monteverdi's The Coronation of Poppea, Mozart's Don Giovanni, Rossini's La Cenerentola, Verdi's Don Carlos, Puccini's Madama Butterfly, Wagner's Ring, Strauss's Elektra, and Britten's Billy Budd. (A) (I)

Students do not need to be able to read music, but some antecedent familiarity with opera would be extremely helpful. CD's and DVD's of the operas will be placed on reserve. Law Students and Ph.D. students in Philosophy and Music may register without permission. All others need to apply for permission, and will be part of a lottery.

2017-2018 Spring
Category
Aesthetics

PHIL 25209/35209 Emotion, Reason, and Law

(GNSE 28210, GNSE 38300, RETH 32900, PLSC 49301, LAWS 43273)

Emotions figure in many areas of the law, and many legal doctrines (from reasonable provocation in homicide to mercy in criminal sentencing) invite us to think about emotions and their relationship to reason. In addition, some prominent theories of the limits of law make reference to emotions: thus Lord Devlin and, more recently, Leon Kass have argued that the disgust of the average member of society is a sufficient reason for rendering a practice illegal, even though it does no harm to others. Emotions, however, are all too rarely studied closely, with the result that both theory and doctrine are often confused. The first part of this course will study major theories of emotion, asking about the relationship between emotion and cognition, focusing on philosophical accounts, but also learning from anthropology and psychology. We will ask how far emotions embody cognitions, and of what type, and then we will ask whether there is reason to consider some or all emotions "irrational" in a normative sense. We then turn to the criminal law, asking how specific emotions figure in doctrine and theory: anger, fear, compassion, disgust, guilt, and shame. Legal areas considered will include self-defense, reasonable provocation, mercy, victim impact statements, sodomy laws, sexual harassment, shame-based punishments. Next, we turn to the role played by emotions in constitutional law and in thought about just institutions - a topic that seems initially unpromising, but one that will turn out to be full of interest. (A) (I)

Undergraduates may enroll only with the permission of the instructor.

2017-2018 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Law
Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 51200 Law-Philosophy Workshop. Topic: Animal Rights and Environmental Ethics

(LAWS 61512, RETH 51301, GNSE 50101, HMRT 51301, PLSC 51512)

About half of the sessions will discuss philosophical and legal issues related to animal rights, and the other half will discuss issues of environmental ethics, focusing on the ethics of climate change. This is a seminar/workshop many of whose participants are faculty from various related disciplines. It admits approximately ten students. Its aim is to study, each year, a topic that arises in both philosophy and the law and to ask how bringing the two fields together may yield mutual illumination. Most sessions are led by visiting speakers, from either outside institutions or our own faculty, who circulate their papers in advance. The session consists of a brief introduction by the speaker, followed by initial questioning by the two faculty coordinators, followed by general discussion, in which students are given priority. Several sessions involve students only, and are led by the instructors. Students write a 20-25 page seminar paper at the end of the year. The course satisfies the Law School Substantial Writing Requirement.

Students are admitted by permission of the two instructors. They should submit a c.v. and a statement (reasons for interest in the course, relevant background in law and/or philosophy) to the instructors by e mail by September 20. Usual participants include graduate students in philosophy, political science, and divinity, and law students. Students must enroll for all three quarters to receive credit.

2017-2018 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 51200 Law-Philosophy Workshop. Topic: Animal Rights and Environmental Ethics

(LAWS 61512, RETH 51301, GNSE 50101, HMRT 51301, PLSC 51512)

About half of the sessions will discuss philosophical and legal issues related to animal rights, and the other half will discuss issues of environmental ethics, focusing on the ethics of climate change. This is a seminar/workshop many of whose participants are faculty from various related disciplines. It admits approximately ten students. Its aim is to study, each year, a topic that arises in both philosophy and the law and to ask how bringing the two fields together may yield mutual illumination. Most sessions are led by visiting speakers, from either outside institutions or our own faculty, who circulate their papers in advance. The session consists of a brief introduction by the speaker, followed by initial questioning by the two faculty coordinators, followed by general discussion, in which students are given priority. Several sessions involve students only, and are led by the instructors. Students write a 20-25 page seminar paper at the end of the year. The course satisfies the Law School Substantial Writing Requirement.

Students are admitted by permission of the two instructors. They should submit a c.v. and a statement (reasons for interest in the course, relevant background in law and/or philosophy) to the instructors by e mail by September 20. Usual participants include graduate students in philosophy, political science, and divinity, and law students. Students must enroll for all three quarters to receive credit.

2017-2018 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 51200 Law-Philosophy Workshop. Topic: Animal Rights and Environmental Ethics

(LAWS 61512, RETH 51301, GNSE 50101, HMRT 51301, PLSC 51512)

About half of the sessions will discuss philosophical and legal issues related to animal rights, and the other half will discuss issues of environmental ethics, focusing on the ethics of climate change. This is a seminar/workshop many of whose participants are faculty from various related disciplines. It admits approximately ten students. Its aim is to study, each year, a topic that arises in both philosophy and the law and to ask how bringing the two fields together may yield mutual illumination. Most sessions are led by visiting speakers, from either outside institutions or our own faculty, who circulate their papers in advance. The session consists of a brief introduction by the speaker, followed by initial questioning by the two faculty coordinators, followed by general discussion, in which students are given priority. Several sessions involve students only, and are led by the instructors. Students write a 20-25 page seminar paper at the end of the year. The course satisfies the Law School Substantial Writing Requirement.

Students are admitted by permission of the two instructors. They should submit a c.v. and a statement (reasons for interest in the course, relevant background in law and/or philosophy) to the instructors by e mail by September 20. Usual participants include graduate students in philosophy, political science, and divinity, and law students. Students must enroll for all three quarters to receive credit.

2017-2018 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 51516 Henry Sidgwick

(LAWS 53396, PLSC 51516, RETH 51516)

The most philosophically explicit and rigorous of the British Utilitarians, Henry Sidgwick made important contributions to normative ethics, political philosophy, and metaethics. His work also has important implication for law. His great work The Methods of Ethics, which will be the primary focus of this seminar, has been greatly admired even by those who deeply disagree with it - for example John Rawls, for whom Sidgwick was important both as a source and as a foil, and Bernard Williams, who wrote about him with particular hostility. Sidgwick provides the best defense of Utilitarianism we have, allowing us to see what it really looks like as a normative ethical and social theory. Sidgwick was also a practical philosopher and activist, writing on many topics, but especially on women's higher education, which he did much to pioneer at Cambridge University, founding Newnham College with his wife Eleanor. A rationalist who helped to found the Society for Psychical Research, an ardent feminist who defended the ostracism of the "fallen woman," a closeted gay man who attempted to justify the proscriptions of Victorian morality, Sidgwick is a philosopher full of deep tensions and fascinating contradictions, which work their way into his arguments. So we will also read the work in the context of Sidgwick's contorted relationship with his era. An undergraduate major in philosophy or some equivalent solid philosophy preparation. (I) (IV)

This is a 500 level course. Ph.D. students in Philosophy and Political Theory may enroll without permission. Admission by permission of the instructor. Permission must be sought in writing by September 15, 2017.

2017-2018 Autumn
Category
Ethics/Metaethics
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 21901/31900 Feminist Philosophy

(HMRT 31900, LAWS 47701, PLSC 51900, RETH 41000, GNSE 29600)

The course is an introduction to the major varieties of philosophical feminism. After studying some key historical texts in the Western tradition (Wollstonecraft, Rousseau, J. S. Mill), we examine four types of contemporary philosophical feminism: Liberal Feminism (Susan Moller Okin, Martha Nussbaum), Radical Feminism (Catharine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin), Difference Feminism (Carol Gilligan, Annette Baier, Nel Noddings), and Postmodern "Queer" Gender Theory (Judith Butler, Michael Warner). After studying each of these approaches, we will focus on political and ethical problems of contemporary international feminism, asking how well each of the approaches addresses these problems. (I)

Undergraduates may enroll only with the permission of the instructor.

2016-2017 Spring
Category
Feminist Philosophy
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 51200 Law-Philosophy Workshop. Topic: Current Issues in General Jurisprudence

(LAWS 61512, RETH 51301, GNSE 50101, HMRT 51301, PLSC 51512)

The Workshop will expose students to cutting-edge work in "general jurisprudence," that part of philosophy of law concerned with the central questions about the nature of law, the relationship between law and morality, and the nature of legal reasoning. We will be particularly interested in the way in which work in philosophy of language, metaethics, metaphysics, and other cognate fields of philosophy has influenced recent scholarly debates that have arisen in the wake of H.L.A. Hart's seminal The Concept of Law (1961). Students who have taken Leiter's "Jurisprudence I" course at the law school are welcome to enroll. Students who have not taken Jurisprudence I need to understand that the several two-hour sessions of the Workshop in the early fall will be required; they will involve reading through and discussing Chapters 1-6 of Hart's The Concept of Law and some criticisms by Ronald Dworkin. This will give all students an adequate background for the remainder of the year. Students who have taken jurisprudence courses elsewhere may contact Prof. Leiter to see if they can be exempted from these sessions based on their prior study. After the prepatory sessions, we will generally meet for one hour the week prior to our outside speakers to go over their essay and to refine questions for the speaker. Confirmed speakers so far include Leslie Green, Stephen Perry, Frederick Schauer, Natalie Stojlar, Mark Murphy, and Kevin Toh.

Students are admitted by permission of the two instructors. They should submit a C.V. and a statement (reasons for interest in the course, relevant background in law and/or philosophy) to the instructors by e-mail. Usual participants include graduate students in philosophy, political science, divinity and law. Students must enroll for all three quarters.

Martha C. Nussbaum, B. Leiter, M. Etchemendy
2016-2017 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 20710/30710 Roman Philosophers on the Fear of Death

(LAWS 96305, CLCV 24716, CLAS 34716, RETH 30710, PLSC 22210, PLSC 32210)

All human beings fear death, and it seems plausible to think that a lot of our actions are motivated by it. But is it reasonable to fear death? And does this fear do good (motivating creative projects) or harm (motivating greedy accumulation, war, and too much deference to religious leaders)? Hellenistic philosophers, both Greek and Roman, were preoccupied with these questions and debated them with a depth and intensity that makes them still highly influential in modern philosophical debate about the same issues (the only issue on which one will be likely find discussion of Lucretius in the pages of The Journal of Philosophy). The course will focus on several major Latin writings on the topic: Lucretius De Rerum Natura Book III, and extracts from Cicero and Seneca. We will study the philosophical arguments in their literary setting and ask about connections between argument and its rhetorical expression. In translation we will read pertinent material from Plato, Epicurus, Plutarch, and a few modern authors such as Thomas Nagel, John Fischer, and Bernard Williams. (IV)

Ability to read the material in Latin at a sufficiently high level, usually about two years at the college level.

2016-2017 Winter
Category
Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 51200 Law-Philosophy Workshop. Topic: Current Issues in General Jurisprudence

(LAWS 61512, RETH 51301, GNSE 50101, HMRT 51301, PLSC 51512)

The Workshop will expose students to cutting-edge work in "general jurisprudence," that part of philosophy of law concerned with the central questions about the nature of law, the relationship between law and morality, and the nature of legal reasoning. We will be particularly interested in the way in which work in philosophy of language, metaethics, metaphysics, and other cognate fields of philosophy has influenced recent scholarly debates that have arisen in the wake of H.L.A. Hart's seminal The Concept of Law (1961). Students who have taken Leiter's "Jurisprudence I" course at the law school are welcome to enroll. Students who have not taken Jurisprudence I need to understand that the several two-hour sessions of the Workshop in the early fall will be required; they will involve reading through and discussing Chapters 1-6 of Hart's The Concept of Law and some criticisms by Ronald Dworkin. This will give all students an adequate background for the remainder of the year. Students who have taken jurisprudence courses elsewhere may contact Prof. Leiter to see if they can be exempted from these sessions based on their prior study. After the prepatory sessions, we will generally meet for one hour the week prior to our outside speakers to go over their essay and to refine questions for the speaker. Confirmed speakers so far include Leslie Green, Stephen Perry, Frederick Schauer, Natalie Stojlar, Mark Murphy, and Kevin Toh.

Students are admitted by permission of the two instructors. They should submit a C.V. and a statement (reasons for interest in the course, relevant background in law and/or philosophy) to the instructors by e-mail. Usual participants include graduate students in philosophy, political science, divinity and law. Students must enroll for all three quarters.

Martha C. Nussbaum, B. Leiter, M. Etchemendy
2016-2017 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 51404 Global Inequality

(PLSC 51404, RETH 51404, LAWS 92403)

Global income and wealth are highly concentrated. The richest 2% of the population own about half of the global assets. Per capita income in the United States is around $47,000 and in Europe it is around $30,500, while in India it is $3,400 and in Congo, it is $329. There are equally unsettling inequalities in longevity, health, and education. In this interdisciplinary seminar, we ask what duties nations and individuals have to address these inequalities and what are the best strategies for doing so. What role must each country play in helping itself? What is the role of international agreements and agencies, of NGOs, of political institutions, and of corporations in addressing global poverty? How do we weigh policies that emphasize growth against policies that emphasize within-country equality, health, or education? In seeking answers to these questions, the class will combine readings on the law and economics of global development with readings on the philosophy of global justice. A particular focus will be on the role that legal institutions, both domestic and international, play in discharging these duties. For, example, we might focus on how a nation with natural resources can design legal institutions to ensure they are exploited for the benefit of the citizens of the country. Students will be expected to write a paper, which may qualify for substantial writing credit. (I)

Non-law students are welcome but need permission of the instructors, since space is limited.

Martha C. Nussbaum, D. Weisbach
2016-2017 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Law
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 51200 Law-Philosophy Workshop

(LAWS 61512, RETH 51301, GNSE 50101, HMRT 51301, PLSC 51512)

Topic: Current Issues in General Jurisprudence. The Workshop will expose students to cutting-edge work in "general jurisprudence," that part of philosophy of law concerned with the central questions about the nature of law, the relationship between law and morality, and the nature of legal reasoning. We will be particularly interested in the way in which work in philosophy of language, metaethics, metaphysics, and other cognate fields of philosophy has influenced recent scholarly debates that have arisen in the wake of H.L.A. Hart's seminal The Concept of Law (1961). Students who have taken Leiter's "Jurisprudence I" course at the law school are welcome to enroll. Students who have not taken Jurisprudence I need to understand that the several two-hour sessions of the Workshop in the early fall will be required; they will involve reading through and discussing Chapters 1-6 of Hart's The Concept of Law and some criticisms by Ronald Dworkin. This will give all students an adequate background for the remainder of the year. Students who have taken jurisprudence courses elsewhere may contact Prof. Leiter to see if they can be exempted from these sessions based on their prior study. After the prepatory sessions, we will generally meet for one hour the week prior to our outside speakers to go over their essay and to refine questions for the speaker. Confirmed speakers so far include Leslie Green, Stephen Perry, Frederick Schauer, Natalie Stojlar, Mark Murphy, and Kevin Toh.

Students are admitted by permission of the two instructors. They should submit a C.V. and a statement (reasons for interest in the course, relevant background in law and/or philosophy) to the instructors by e-mail. Usual participants include graduate students in philosophy, political science, divinity and law.

Students must enroll for all three quarters.

Martha C. Nussbaum, B. Leiter; M. Etchemendy
2016-2017 Autumn

PHIL 51204 John Stuart Mill

(LAWS 51207, PLSC 51204, RETH 51604)

A careful study of Mill's Utilitarianism in relation to his ideas of self-realization and of liberty. We will study closely at least Utilitarianism, On Liberty, the essays on Bentham and Coleridge, The Subjection of Women, and the Autobiography, trying to figure out whether Mill is a Utilitarian or an Aristotelian eudaemonist, and what view of "permanent human interests" and of the malleability of desire and preference underlies his political thought. If time permits we will also study his writings about India.

Admission by permission of the instructor. Permission must be sought in writing by September 15.

An undergraduate major in philosophy or some equivalent solid philosophy preparation. This is a 500 level course. Ph.D. students in Philosophy and Political Theory may enroll without permission. I am eager to have some Economics graduate students in the class, and will discuss the philosophy prerequisite in a flexible way with such students.

2016-2017 Autumn
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For full list of Martha C. Nussbaum's courses back to the 2012-13 academic year, see our searchable course database.