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Martha Nussbaum : Courses and Seminars

Amartya Sen
LAWS 78604
Amartya Sen is, of course, a distinguished economist, winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize. But he is also a philosopher whose philosophical thought informs his economic writings and who has long defended the importance of philosophy for economic thought. This seminar will study the philosophical aspects of his thought, not attempting to separate them from his economic contributions, which would be wrong, but attempting to focus on the specific contributions Sen has been able to make to economics in virtue of being a philosopher. We will begin by studying two distinct though related strands of his thought: work on choice, welfare, and measurement, and work on development. We continue with his influential critique of Utilitarianism on the nature of preference and value, and the importance of equality. We will then devote substantial time to The Idea of Justice, a major contribution to political philosophy. Finally, we will examine more recent writings on Indian rationalist philosophy and on religious identity. Admission by permission of the instructor. Permission must be sought in writing by September 15. Prerequisite: An undergraduate major in philosophy or some equivalent solid philosophy preparation. This is a 500 level course. Ph.D. students in Philosophy and Political Theory may enroll without permission. I am eager to have some Economics graduate students in the class, and will discuss the philosophy prerequisite in a flexible way with such students.
Autumn 2015
Martha Nussbaum
Greenberg Seminar: Satan in Law and Literature
LAWS 95902
The Prince of Darkness (aka Lucifer, Satan, Mephistopheles, The Old Man Down the Road, and many other aliases) has left a deep mark on all the arts, not least on literature. He is an irresistible magnet for performers, from Samuel Ramey to Jack Nicholson and Mick Jagger. And his cult remains vigorous in the United States, posing numerous challenges for law. We propose to study some leading works of literature in the tradition of Satanology, including works by Dante, Marlowe, Milton, Goethe, and John Updike. We will then look at recent cases involving the claims of Satanists. Prospective students should send to both instructors a statement indicating your background in literature and your reasons for interest in the course. Graded Pass/Fail.
Autumn 2015
Richard A. Posner, Martha Nussbaum
Workshop: Law and Philosophy: Law and Race
LAWS 61512
This is a seminar/workshop; many of whose participants are faculty from various related disciplines. It admits approximately ten students. Its aim is to study, each year, a topic that arises in both philosophy and the law and to ask how bringing the two fields together may yield mutual illumination. Most sessions are led by visiting speakers, from either outside institutions or our own faculty, who circulate their papers in advance. The session consists of a brief introduction by the speaker, followed by initial questioning by the two faculty coordinators, followed by general discussion, in which students are given priority. The theme for 2015-16 is “Race and Law.” Speakers will include: Derrick Darby (Michigan), Elizabeth Anderson (Michigan), Justin Driver (Chicago), Sally Haslanger (MIT), Charles Mills (Northwestern), Michele Moody-Adams (Columbia), Tommie Shelby (Harvard). Several sessions involve students only, and are led by the instructors. Please see http://www.law.uchicago.edu/workshops/lawandphilosophy for additional information concerning each session. Usual participants include graduate students in philosophy, political science, and divinity, and law students. Students write a 20-25 page seminar paper at the end of the year. The paper may satisfy the Law School Substantial Writing Requirement. Students must enroll for all three quarters to receive credit. Students are admitted by permission of the two instructors. They should submit a c.v. and a statement (reasons for interest in the course, relevant background in law and/or philosophy) to the instructors by e mail by September 20. Usual participants include graduate students in philosophy, political science, and divinity, and law students.
Autumn 2015
Martha Nussbaum, Alexander Prescott-Couch
Greenberg Seminar: Satan in Law and Literature
LAWS 95902
The Prince of Darkness (aka Lucifer, Satan, Mephistopheles, The Old Man Down the Road, and many other aliases) has left a deep mark on all the arts, not least on literature. He is an irresistible magnet for performers, from Samuel Ramey to Jack Nicholson and Mick Jagger. And his cult remains vigorous in the United States, posing numerous challenges for law. We propose to study some leading works of literature in the tradition of Satanology, including works by Dante, Marlowe, Milton, Goethe, and John Updike. We will then look at recent cases involving the claims of Satanists. Prospective students should send to both instructors a statement indicating your background in literature and your reasons for interest in the course. Graded Pass/Fail.
Winter 2016
Richard A. Posner, Martha Nussbaum
Public Morality and Legal Conservatism
LAWS 78605
This seminar will study the philosophical background of contemporary legal arguments alluding to the idea of "public morality," in thinkers including Edmund Burke, James Fitzjames Stephen, and Patrick Devlin, and the criticisms of such arguments in thinkers including Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, and Herbert Hart. We will then study legal arguments on a range of topics, including drugs and alcohol, gambling, nudity, pornography and obscenity, non-standard sex, and marriage. Non-law students are welcome but need permission of the instructors, since space is limited. We are aiming for a total enrollment of 30, of which up to 10 can be non-law students (no undergraduates), and the rest will be law students, selected by lottery. Non-law students should apply to both professors by December 1, 2015, describing relevant background, especially in philosophy.
Winter 2016
Martha Nussbaum, William Baude
Workshop: Law and Philosophy: Law and Race
LAWS 61512
This is a seminar/workshop; many of whose participants are faculty from various related disciplines. It admits approximately ten students. Its aim is to study, each year, a topic that arises in both philosophy and the law and to ask how bringing the two fields together may yield mutual illumination. Most sessions are led by visiting speakers, from either outside institutions or our own faculty, who circulate their papers in advance. The session consists of a brief introduction by the speaker, followed by initial questioning by the two faculty coordinators, followed by general discussion, in which students are given priority. The theme for 2015-16 is “Race and Law.” Speakers will include: Derrick Darby (Michigan), Elizabeth Anderson (Michigan), Justin Driver (Chicago), Sally Haslanger (MIT), Charles Mills (Northwestern), Michele Moody-Adams (Columbia), Tommie Shelby (Harvard). Several sessions involve students only, and are led by the instructors. Please see http://www.law.uchicago.edu/workshops/lawandphilosophy for additional information concerning each session. Usual participants include graduate students in philosophy, political science, and divinity, and law students. Students write a 20-25 page seminar paper at the end of the year. The paper may satisfy the Law School Substantial Writing Requirement. Students must enroll for all three quarters to receive credit. Students are admitted by permission of the two instructors. They should submit a c.v. and a statement (reasons for interest in the course, relevant background in law and/or philosophy) to the instructors by e mail by September 20. Usual participants include graduate students in philosophy, political science, and divinity, and law students.
Winter 2016
Martha Nussbaum, Alexander Prescott-Couch
Emotion, Reason, and Law
LAWS 99301
Emotions figure in many areas of the law, and many legal doctrines (from reasonable provocation in homicide to mercy in criminal sentencing) invite us to think about emotions and their relationship to reason. In addition, some prominent theories of the limits of law make reference to emotions: thus Lord Devlin and, more recently, Leon Kass have argued that the disgust of the average member of society is a sufficient reason for rendering a practice illegal, even though it does no harm to others. Emotions, however, are all too rarely studied closely, with the result that both theory and doctrine are often confused. The first part of this course will study major theories of emotion, asking about the relationship between emotion and cognition, focusing on philosophical accounts, but also learning from anthropology and psychology. We will ask how far emotions embody cognitions, and of what type, and then we will ask whether there is reason to consider some or all emotions “irrational” in a normative sense. We then turn to the criminal law, asking how specific emotions figure in doctrine and theory: anger, fear, compassion, disgust, guilt, and shame. Legal areas considered will include self-defense, reasonable provocation, mercy, victim impact statements, sodomy laws, sexual harassment, shame-based punishments. Next, we turn to the role played by emotions in constitutional law and in thought about just institutions – a topic that seems initially unpromising, but one that will turn out to be full of interest. Other topics will be included as time permits. Open to all law students without prerequisite. Undergraduates may enroll only with the permission of the instructor. Assessment will be via a take-home exam or a substantial research paper. The class will not meet at the regularly scheduled time on Thursday, April 14, but on Friday, April 15, from 1:30 - 2:35 p.m. instead.
Spring 2016
Martha Nussbaum
Greenberg Seminar: Satan in Law and Literature
LAWS 95902
The Prince of Darkness (aka Lucifer, Satan, Mephistopheles, The Old Man Down the Road, and many other aliases) has left a deep mark on all the arts, not least on literature. He is an irresistible magnet for performers, from Samuel Ramey to Jack Nicholson and Mick Jagger. And his cult remains vigorous in the United States, posing numerous challenges for law. We propose to study some leading works of literature in the tradition of Satanology, including works by Dante, Marlowe, Milton, Goethe, and John Updike. We will then look at recent cases involving the claims of Satanists. Prospective students should send to both instructors a statement indicating your background in literature and your reasons for interest in the course. Graded Pass/Fail.
Spring 2016
Richard A. Posner, Martha Nussbaum
Opera as Idea and as Performance
LAWS 96304
Is opera an archaic and exotic pageant for fanciers of overweight canaries or a relevant art form of great subtlety and complexity that has the power to be revelatory? In this course of eight sessions, jointly taught by Professor Martha Nussbaum and Anthony Freud, General Director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, we explore the multi-disciplinary nature of this elusive and much-maligned art form, with its four-hundred-year-old European roots, discussing both historic and philosophical contexts and the practicalities of interpretation and production in a very un-European, twenty-first-century city. Anchoring each session around a different opera, we will be joined by a variety of guest experts, including a director, conductor, designer, and singer, to enable us to explore different perspectives. The tentative list of operas to be discussed includes Monteverdi's The Coronation of Poppea, Mozart's Don Giovanni, Beethoven’s Fidelio, Verdi's Don Carlos and Otello, Puccini’s Tosca, Wagner's Lohengrin, Strauss's Elektra, and Britten's Bill Budd. Students do not need to be able to read music, but antecedent familiarity with opera would be extremely helpful.
Spring 2016
Martha Nussbaum, Anthony Freud
Workshop: Law and Philosophy: Law and Race
LAWS 61512
This is a seminar/workshop; many of whose participants are faculty from various related disciplines. It admits approximately ten students. Its aim is to study, each year, a topic that arises in both philosophy and the law and to ask how bringing the two fields together may yield mutual illumination. Most sessions are led by visiting speakers, from either outside institutions or our own faculty, who circulate their papers in advance. The session consists of a brief introduction by the speaker, followed by initial questioning by the two faculty coordinators, followed by general discussion, in which students are given priority. The theme for 2015-16 is “Race and Law.” Speakers will include: Derrick Darby (Michigan), Elizabeth Anderson (Michigan), Justin Driver (Chicago), Sally Haslanger (MIT), Charles Mills (Northwestern), Michele Moody-Adams (Columbia), Tommie Shelby (Harvard). Several sessions involve students only, and are led by the instructors. Please see http://www.law.uchicago.edu/workshops/lawandphilosophy for additional information concerning each session. Usual participants include graduate students in philosophy, political science, and divinity, and law students. Students write a 20-25 page seminar paper at the end of the year. The paper may satisfy the Law School Substantial Writing Requirement. Students must enroll for all three quarters to receive credit. Students are admitted by permission of the two instructors. They should submit a c.v. and a statement (reasons for interest in the course, relevant background in law and/or philosophy) to the instructors by e mail by September 20. Usual participants include graduate students in philosophy, political science, and divinity, and law students.
Spring 2016
Martha Nussbaum, Alexander Prescott-Couch