Martha Nussbaum: From Disgust to Humanity

Deborah and S. Cody Engle Program

November 10, 2010

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Martha Nussbaum

Martha Nussbaum is one of our foremost authorities on law, freedom, and morality. In her Festival appearance, she aims her considerable intellectual firepower at the bulwark of opposition to gay equality: the politics of disgust. With arguments outlined in her book From Disgust to Humanity, Nussbaum contends that disgust is among the fundamental motivations of those who fight for legal discrimination against LGBT citizens. When confronted with same-sex acts and relationships, she writes, they experience “a deep aversion akin to that inspired by bodily wastes, slimy insects, and spoiled food—and then cite that very reaction to justify a range of legal restrictions, from sodomy laws to bans on same-sex marriage.” Nussbaum served as president of the American Philosophical Association in 2000 and has also chaired their Committee on International Cooperation, the Committee on the Status of Women, and the Committee for Public Philosophy. She is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago.

This program recognizes a generous multiyear contribution to the Chicago Humanities Festival by Deborah and S. Cody Engle.


Recorded on Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at the Francis W. Parker School, Diane and David B. Heller Auditorium.