Conversations with History: Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

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Women's Rights, Religious Freedom, and Liberal Education: Conversation with Martha C. Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Professor of Law and Ethics, University of Chicago; September 14, 2006, by Harry Kreisler

This interview is part of the Institute's "Conversations with History" series, and uses Internet technology to share with the public Berkeley's distinction as a global forum for ideas.

Welcome to a Conversation with History. I'm Harry Kreisler of the Institute of International Studies. Our guest today is Martha C. Nussbaum, who is a philosopher, and the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago. She is on the Berkeley campus to deliver the 2006-2007 Forester Lectures. Professor Nussbaum has made significant contributions to an array of disciplines, working within the fields of philosophy, law, classics, and political science. She has advanced the interdisciplinary study of ongoing problems in such areas as cognition and emotions, feminism, democracy, religion, and education, among others. Some of her publications include Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions, Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform of Liberal Education, The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy, and Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach.

  1. Background ... growing up in Bryn Mawr ... influence of parents ... feminist education ... professional actress ... studying classics and philosophy ... G.E.L. Owen and Bernard Williams ... feminist trailblazing at Harvard
  2. Being a Philosopher ... Socrates ... feminism maturing into philosophy ... international social justice ... choosing philosophical questions ... emotions and politics ... Amartya Sen and the World Institute for Development Economics Research
  3. The Rights and Capabilities of Women ... differences in feminist issues in different cultures ... issues in India ... thriving democracy ... obsolete economic measurements ... ten indicators of life quality ... the capabilities approach ... empirical research
  4. The Role of Religion ... second-class status of women ... legitimacy of religious claims ... religious claims vs. ten indicators of human dignity ... the right of choice ... nonreligious authoritarian groups ... reforming law withing a religious culture ... male clerics ... diversity within tradition ... allowing the powerful to dominate the reform debate ... contestation
  5. The Role of Law ... early U.S. focus on rape and sexual harassment ... successful changes in law ... law culture and norms in India ... Madisonian idea of equal liberty ... the case of Abbington v. Schempp ... emphasizing "equality" over "separation"
  6. Conclusions ... advice for students ... liberal education ... reasoned debate ... world citizens ... imagination ... overemphasis on technological training ... critical thinking ... elevating the public discourse ... corporate-run media

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