Martha Nussbaum Discusses ‘Justice for Animals’ with the New Republic

Martha Nussbaum’s Case for Animal Rights

The numbers say it all: Nearly two-thirds of global mammalian biomass is currently made up of livestock, the majority raised and killed in intolerably cruel factory farms. The domesticated chicken is now the world’s most populous bird, whose discarded bones will define the fossil record of our human-dominated age. Driven by habitat loss, climate change, and other human causes, the ongoing Sixth Mass Extinction represents not just a crisis of biodiversity but a source of immense suffering for millions of individual creatures.

“Animals are in trouble all over the world,” University of Chicago professor Martha Nussbaum writes in Justice for Animals: Our Collective Responsibility, her new book out this month. In her half-century as a moral philosopher, Nussbaum has tackled an enormous range of topics, including death, aging, friendship, emotions, feminism, and much more. But this book, which Nussbaum dedicates to her late daughter, an animal rights lawyer who passed suddenly in 2019, wades into new territory: What is justice for animals?

Nussbaum believes this question has been poorly theorized philosophically and a practically nonexistent concern in politics and law. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, Nussbaum and I discussed the limitations of common philosophical approaches to animals, what her approach offers that other dominant theories of animal justice do not, and why she sees herself as a “liberal reformist with a revolutionary streak.”

Read more at The New Republic

Faculty books