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About the Author

Martha C. Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, appointed in the Philosophy Department and the Law School of the University of Chicago. She gave the 2017 Jefferson Lecture for the National Endowment for the Humanities and won the 2016 Kyoto Prize in Arts show more and Philosophy, which is regarded as the most prestigious award available in fields not eligible for a Nobel. Most recently, she was awarded the 2018 Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture. She has written more than twenty-two books. show less
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Works by Martha C. Nussbaum

The Therapy of Desire (1994) 298 copies
Sex and Social Justice (1999) 211 copies
For Love of Country? (1996) 164 copies
The Quality of Life (1993) — Editor — 94 copies
Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions (2004) — Editor — 91 copies
Essays on Aristotle's De Anima (1992) — Editor — 54 copies
On "Nineteen Eighty-Four": Orwell and Our Future (1983) — Editor — 38 copies
Arastu 1 copy

Associated Works

The Black Prince (1973) — Introduction, some editions — 1,472 copies
A Velocity of Being: Letters to a Young Reader (2018) — Contributor — 223 copies
Essays on Aristotle's Ethics (1980) — Contributor — 145 copies
Roman Homosexuality: Ideologies of Masculinity in Classical Antiquity (1999) — Foreword, some editions — 142 copies
Why Narrative? Readings in Narrative Theology (1989) — Contributor — 137 copies
The Cambridge Companion to Greek and Roman Philosophy (2003) — Contributor — 91 copies
Examined Life: Excursions With Contemporary Thinkers (2009) — Contributor — 74 copies
The Augustinian Tradition (Philosophical Traditions) (1998) — Contributor — 45 copies
Essays on Aristotle's Poetics (1992) — Contributor — 33 copies
Human Rights in the World Community: Issues and Action (1989) — Contributor — 30 copies
Goodness and Advice (2001) — Contributor — 30 copies
The Stoic Idea of the City (1991) — Foreword, some editions — 29 copies
Essays on Aristotle's Rhetoric (Philosophical Traditions) (1996) — Contributor — 28 copies
Aristotle's Ethics: critical essays (1998) — Contributor — 25 copies
Erotikon: Essays on Eros, Ancient and Modern (2005) — Contributor — 23 copies
Feminist Interpretations of Aristotle (1998) — Contributor — 18 copies
Feminism and Ancient Philosophy (1996) — Contributor — 17 copies
A Companion to the Philosophy of Literature (2010) — Contributor — 15 copies
Stoicism: Traditions and Transformations (2004) — Contributor — 14 copies
Iris Murdoch, Philosopher (2011) — Contributor — 11 copies
Religion and Contemporary Liberalism (1997) — Contributor — 11 copies
The Soul of Tragedy: Essays on Athenian Drama (2006) — Contributor — 9 copies
The Norms of nature : studies in Hellenistic ethics (1986) — Contributor — 8 copies
Body and Soul in Ancient Philosophy (2009) — Contributor — 8 copies
Reading Ethics (Reading Philosophy) (2008) — Contributor — 7 copies
The Metaphysics and Ethics of Death: New Essays (2013) — Contributor — 6 copies
Paul Ricoeur and Contemporary Moral Thought (2002) — Contributor — 4 copies
The Politics of Compassion (2013) — Contributor — 4 copies
Seneca and the Self (2009) — Contributor — 2 copies
Oxford studies in ancient philosophy. Vol. 13 (1995) — Contributor — 1 copy


Common Knowledge

Legal name
Nussbaum, Martha Craven
New York, New York, USA
Places of residence
New York, New York, USA
New York University ( [1969])
Harvard University (MA ∙ PhD ∙ [1972, 1975])
Baldwin School
Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics (University of Chicago)
Rorty, Amelie (co-author)
University of Chicago (Professor of Law and Ethics)
Brown University
Awards and honors
Phi Beta Kappa's Sidney Hook Memorial Award (2012)
President, American Philosophical Association Central Division (1999-2000)
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Prince of Asturias Prize (2012 ∙ Social Sciences)
Harvard Centennial Medal
Grawemeyer Award (2002) (show all 9)
Albertus-Magnus professorate (2012)
Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy
Berggruen Prize (2018)
Short biography
Martha Nussbaum, née Craven, was born in New York City. Her parents were a wealthy lawyer and an interior designer-homemaker. She attended the Baldwin School and studied theatre and classics at New York University, earning her BA in 1969. She received an MA and a PhD in philosophy from Harvard University. In 1975, she married Alan Nussbaum, with whom she had a daughter, and converted to Judaism. She became the first woman to hold the Junior Fellowship at Harvard, where she taught philosophy and classics in the 1970s and early 1980s, until being denied tenure by the Classics Department in 1982. She then moved on to teach at Brown University and the University of Oxford. She became a leading figure in moral philosophy with the publication of her second book, The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy (1986). Her other major works include Sex and Social Justice (1998), Frontiers of Justice (2006), and Political Emotions: Why Love Matters for Justice (2013). She has also edited 15 other books, and participated in many academic debates with figures such as John Rawls, Richard Posner, and Susan Moller Okin. In 2008, she was elected a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. Professor Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, appointed in the Law School and Philosophy Department, and an Associate in the Classics Department, the Divinity School, and the Political Science Department, at the University of Chicago.



It should be obvious to any ethical person that the way we treat animals today is one of the biggest moral failures of our time. With the benefits of further moral progress, our current abhorrent practices will hopefully be universally condemned by future generations. But that progress will only come to life if someone articulates today why change is needed and how it might be implemented in practice. This might be a pathbreaking book in that regard.

The author takes the bull by the horns by identifying the problem (which is easy enough) and then mildly criticizing earlier theories of animal rights and presenting her own Capabilities Approach as an alternative. The Capabilities Approach itself is a reasonably interesting framework, but clearly more easily applicable to humans than animals. It runs into practical challenges pretty quickly since the capabilities of all animal species are extremely different. It would be a monumental task to construct an exhaustive list or categorization of all animal capabilities, and the author does not attempt it.

Instead, she indicates that a political and legal system might be possible where human collaborators learn to understand the ways of life of a given animal species and are given the power to take legal action in the human world to safeguard the capabilities of that species. This legal part of the book was the most interesting one, in my opinion. It is impressive to see a distinguished philosopher work through so many practical implications of her theory, even though the implications must necessarily remain incomplete since our current legal institutions are still so far away from the ideal she sketches.

The author also looks at animal justice from many other perspectives. For example, she provides a nice discussion of sentience, the ability to strive for something, in various animals. She concludes that it does not necessarily make sense to talk about the capabilities of all animal species. Lines will have to be drawn, and this is an interesting conclusion. She also discusses a great variety of present-day interactions between human beings and animals of different kinds, both domesticated and wild. She concludes that most of them do not conform to the Capabilities Approach, but some do.

All in all, there's no doubt that a vast amount of further research needs to be done on every topic discussed in this book. But this is a great starting point for new debates. It will hopefully inspire young readers in philosophy, science, law and many other fields to make things better for animals in the future.
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thcson | 1 other review | Sep 12, 2023 |
This book is very eye-opening & broadening. The author is able to write about philosophy and make it accessible to the lay person. I liked it a lot.
RickGeissal | 3 other reviews | Aug 16, 2023 |
Nussbaum is obviously a great thinker, but this book seemed an unfocused mishmash to me. I didn’t like the way she combined analytic psychiatric ideas with philosophy. There were definitely provocative and interesting ideas in there but I didn’t think the book as a whole was well done.
steve02476 | 5 other reviews | Jan 3, 2023 |



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