Martha Nussbaum’s “The Cosmopolitan Tradition”

Aaron Ben-Ze’ev at the LARB:

LIKE MARTHA NUSSBAUM’S other books, The Cosmopolitan Tradition is a profound and insightful interrogation of central issues in philosophy and our everyday lives. Nussbaum’s newest contribution analyzes the “Cosmopolitan tradition” — that is, the view that we are citizens of the world who enjoy the equal and unconditional worth of all human beings. This worth is independent of people’s individual traits, which depend on fortuitous natural or social arrangements. As Nussbaum claims, the “insight that politics ought to treat human beings both as equal and as having a worth beyond price is one of the deepest and most influential insights of Western thought.” She further argues that, in this tradition, dignity — the right of a person to be treated respectfully for her own sake — is non-hierarchical. It belongs, in equal measure, to all who have some basic threshold capacity for moral learning and choice. Nussbaum persuasively argues that the major flaw of this noble idea is the bifurcation between duties of justice, on the one hand, and duties of material expenditure, on the other.

more here.