Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law

Princeton University Press
6
Free sample

Should laws about sex and pornography be based on social conventions about what is disgusting? Should felons be required to display bumper stickers or wear T-shirts that announce their crimes? This powerful and elegantly written book, by one of America's most influential philosophers, presents a critique of the role that shame and disgust play in our individual and social lives and, in particular, in the law.

Martha Nussbaum argues that we should be wary of these emotions because they are associated in troubling ways with a desire to hide from our humanity, embodying an unrealistic and sometimes pathological wish to be invulnerable. Nussbaum argues that the thought-content of disgust embodies "magical ideas of contamination, and impossible aspirations to purity that are just not in line with human life as we know it." She argues that disgust should never be the basis for criminalizing an act, or play either the aggravating or the mitigating role in criminal law it currently does. She writes that we should be similarly suspicious of what she calls "primitive shame," a shame "at the very fact of human imperfection," and she is harshly critical of the role that such shame plays in certain punishments.


Drawing on an extraordinarily rich variety of philosophical, psychological, and historical references--from Aristotle and Freud to Nazi ideas about purity--and on legal examples as diverse as the trials of Oscar Wilde and the Martha Stewart insider trading case, this is a major work of legal and moral philosophy.

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About the author

Martha C. Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics in the Philosophy Department, Law School, and Divinity School at the University of Chicago. Her most recent book is Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions.
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4.5
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jan 10, 2009
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Pages
432
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ISBN
9781400825943
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Language
English
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Genres
Law / Ethics & Professional Responsibility
Philosophy / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Internalism in philosophy of mind is the thesis that all conditions that constitute a person's current thoughts and sensations, with their characteristic contents, are internal to that person's skin and contemporaneous. Externalism is the denial of internalism, and is now broadly popular. Joseph Mendola argues that internalism is true, and that there are no good arguments that support externalism. Anti-Externalism has three parts. Part I examines famous case-based arguments for externalism due to Kripke, Putnam, and Burge, and develops a unified internalist response incorporating rigidified description clusters. It argues that this proposal's only real difficulties are shared by all viable externalist treatments of both Frege's Hesperus-Phosphorus problem and Russell's problem of empty names, so that these difficulties cannot be decisive. Part II critically examines theoretical motivations for externalism entwined with causal accounts of perceptual content, as refined by Dretske, Fodor, Millikan, Papineau, and others, as well as motivations entwined with disjunctivism and the view that knowledge is the basic mental state. It argues that such accounts are false or do not provide proper motivation for externalism, and develops an internalist but physicalist account of sensory content involving intentional qualia. Part III critically examines theoretical motivations for externalism entwined with externalist accounts of language, including work of Brandom, Davidson, and Wittgenstein. It dialectically develops an internalist account of thoughts mediated by language that can bridge the internally constituted qualia of Part II and the rigidified description clusters of Part I.
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