The Need and Implications of Recognizing Humanity

Wed, Apr 30, 2008, 4:30 pm
Aaron Burr 219
Here is a preview of what Professor Haldane will discuss: a two-sentence overview and then a more contextual bit. Human beings are vulnerable, sometimes fragile creatures, and prone to disabling conditions. This is something that mainstream political philosophy needs to take note of, not just attending to it at the margins but drawing it in more centrally to its ordinary business. In her recent book "Hiding from Humanity" (2004), Martha Nussbaum 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 shall explore four areas in which I believe the discussion now needs to be carried forward: 1. The connections between Nussbaum¹s 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). 2. The conceptual understanding of notions of disability, impairment and normal human functioning, and the standards against which these are determined and judged. 3. The nature of mental disorder and the harm done to sufferers by the stigma attaching to it. 4. The implications of following Nussbaum¹s lead in recognizing humanity in the vulnerable, as these bear upon Œending life¹ issues, especially that of abortion.