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Recognising Humanity

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Martha Nussbaum's Hiding from Humanity, links the philosophical understanding of emotion with important issues in ethics, law and political philosophy, and engages with empirical material in a manner that provides a model for open and practically oriented moral philosophy. Here I explore four areas in which I believe the discussion now needs to be carried forward. First, the connections between Nussbaum's work and other contributions to recent moral philosophy, principally that of Alasdair MacIntyre in Dependent Rational Animals (1999) but also that of David Wiggins in Ethics (2006). Second, the conceptual understanding of notions of disability, impairment and normal human functioning, and the standards against which these are determined and judged. Third, the nature of mental disorder and the harm done to sufferers by the stigma attaching to it. Fourth, the implications of following Nussbaum's lead in recognising humanity in the vulnerable, as these bear upon ‘ending life’ issues, especially that of abortion. Nussbaum's book serves to orient readers towards a cluster of important philosophical issues and specific policy areas; but it also raises questions that she might now wish to consider further.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Moral Philosophy, University of St Andrews, Fife KY16 9AL, UK

Publication date: November 1, 2008


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