Compassion and Pity: An Evaluation of Nussbaum’s Analysis and Defense

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 7 (5):487-511 (2005)
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Abstract

In this paper I argue that Martha Nussbaum's Aristotelian analysis of compassion and pity is faulty, largely because she fails to distinguish between an emotion's basic constitutive conditions and the associated constitutive or "intrinsic" norms, "extrinsic" normative conditions, for instance, instrumental and moral considerations, and the causal conditions under which emotion is most likely to be experienced. I also argue that her defense of compassion and pity as morally valuable emotions is inadequate because she treats a wide variety of objections as all stemming from a common commitment to a Stoic conception of the good. I argue that these objections can be construed as neutral between conceptions of the good. I conclude by arguing that construed in this way there are nonetheless plausible replies to these objections.

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Michael Weber
Bowling Green State University

Citations of this work

Compassion and Beyond.Roger Crisp - 2008 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 11 (3):233-246.
Pity: a mitigated defence.Kristján Kristjánsson - 2014 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 44 (3-4):343-364.
Compassion without Cognitivism.Charlie Kurth - 2019 - Humana Mente 12 (35).

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