Political Animals: Luck, Love and Dignity

Metaphilosophy 29 (4):273-287 (1998)
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Human beings are both needy and dignified. How should we think about the relationship between our neediness and our worth? Card argues well that our vulnerability to luck is intertwined in the very conditions of moral agency. We can see the merit of her approach even more clearly by turning to some difficulties the Stoics have in preserving dignity while removing vulnerability. Stoicism does, however, help us to sort through the difficulties involved as we try to combine love of particular people with respect for all human life. Richardson is correct to suggest that love itself can animate the concern for all humanity; I also agree with him that institutions must play a major role in any solution to problems of inequality between nations. Although the “capabilities approach” offers an attractive account of one part of the goal of just political institutions, combining, as Moody‐Adams suggests, respect for difference with a commitment to universal norms, I now believe that the capabilities account should be combined with a form of Rawlsian political liberalism that protects spaces within which citizens may pursue the good as they understand it.



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Martha Nussbaum
University of Chicago

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