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Nussbaum, Martha Craven (1947–)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DD3605-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2021
Retrieved July 14, 2024, from

Article Summary

A characteristic feature of Nussbaum’s work is the way in which she draws upon ancient Greek and Roman philosophy and literature to examine some of the most pressing ethical and political issues of our time. This strategy serves to emphasise a central belief that underlies her philosophy, namely that it is possible to discover universal and objective truths about morality, justice, and the human condition. One such truth concerns the fragility of human goodness, namely that matters beyond our control can affect our ability to live a good or flourishing life. This has important implications for justice, which Nussbaum explores in several of her works. Most notable is her claim that a just and decent political order must secure at least a threshold level of core capabilities for all its inhabitants. Despite her commitment to ethical universalism Nussbaum rejects attempts to capture moral truths as a set of abstract moral principles. Instead, she argues that we should pay attention to the complexity of human life and the diversity of human experience. In particular, she claims that the emotions, and therefore also art and literature, play a crucial role in both understanding and solving ethical questions.

Citing this article:
van Zyl, Liezl. Nussbaum, Martha Craven (1947–), 2021, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DD3605-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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