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School of Law Welcomes Professor Martha C. Nussbaum

Posted By Madhavi Sunder, Sep 23, 2016

This week the School of Law was honored to host Martha C. Nussbaum, one of the most accomplished and influential American philosophers of our time, as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence.

Professor Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, appointed in the Law School and the Philosophy Department. In addition, she is an Associate in the Classics Department, the Divinity School, the Political Science Department, is a member of the Committee on Southern Asian Studies, and a Board Member of the Human Rights Program.

Professor Nussbaum has written groundbreaking work in areas as diverse as women and human development, religious pluralism is India, cosmopolitanism and nationalism, why democracy needs the humanities, and political emotions, including the role of disgust, love, and anger in law and politics.  She has written 21 books, including more recently Political Emotions: Why Love Matters for Justice (2013) and Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice (2016).

Professor Nussbaum has received many accolades, including honorary degrees from 56 colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe as well as the prestigious Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy in 2016, which some describe as the Nobel Prize for Philosophy.

The School of Law welcomed Professor Nussbaum with a reception for the whole community on Monday, at which time Dean Johnson introduced her to the community.

With dean
Professor Nussbaum with Dean Kevin R. Johnson

with faculty
Professor Nussbaum, me, Professor Donna Shestowsky, and Professor Bob Hillman

Professor Nussbaum said she was honored to visit a school inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose pioneering work on love in politics she has written about often. Professor Nussbaum presented a paper to the law school faculty on Tuesday. In the paper, she discusses recent legal decisions in India with respect to regulations of same sex relations. She argues in her paper that disgust is never a good basis for law.

On Wednesday, Professor Nussbaum delivered the first Chancellor’s Colloquium of the new academic year to more than 300 people at the Mondavi Center, on the topic of “Anger and Revolutionary Justice.”

Chancellor's colloquium

Interim Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter thanked Professor Nussbaum for her advocacy on behalf of gay rights, and led a lively moderated exchange with her following her lecture. 

We were truly honored to have Professor Nussbaum share so much of her work with us. She was generous with colleagues, especially junior scholars and PhD students. Professor Nussbaum said she has had warm feelings for UC Davis since the early 1990s, when she was a visiting scholar at the UC Davis Humanities Institute. She said her work on political emotions began during that early visit to Davis many years ago, and that she loves returning to our campus and town.