Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Examined Life [2008] - Martha Nussbaum.avi

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[Nussbaum] Aristotle had the ingredients of a theory of justice...

that I think is very powerful.

And that is that it's the job of a good political arrangement...

to provide each and every person...

with what they need to become capable...

of living rich and flourishing human lives.

Now, of course, he didn't include all the people,

but he at least had that idea of supporting human capability...

that's the foundation of my own approach.

Now then, in the 17th and 18th centuries,

a very powerful new approach came on the scene,

and that was the social contract approach-

Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant.

The social contract approach was inspired...

by the background culture of feudalism,

where all opportunities were distributed unequally...

to people according to their class,

their inherited wealth, and their status.

And so what these theorists said is try to imagine human beings...

stripped of all those inherited advantages,

placed in what they called the "state of nature,"

where they had only their natural body and their physical advantages,

and try to imagine what kind of arrangements the would actually make.

The social contract tradition is, of course,

an academic, philosophical tradition,

but it also has tremendous influence on popular culture...

and our general public life.

Because we- Every day we hear things like,

"Oh, those people don't pay their own way."

Or, supporting some new group of people,

"Well, they'll be a drag on our economy."

So the idea that the good member of society is a producer...

who contributes advantage to everyone, that is very- a very live idea.

And it lies behind the decline of welfare programs in this county.

I think it lies behind many Americans' skepticism about Europe,

about European social democracy.

You hear terms like the "Nanny State,"

as though there were something wrong with the idea of maternal care...

as a conception of what society actually does.

Um, we also see it in another way in images of who the real man is.

The real man is sort of like these people in the state of nature.

He doesn't deeply need anyone.

He isn't bound to anyone by ties of love and compassion.

He's the loner who can go his own way...

and then out of advantage,

he'll choose to have certain kinds of social arrangements.

The theorists of the social contract made certain assumptions that aren't always true.

They assumed that the parties to this contract...

really are roughly equal in physical and mental power.

Now, that was fine...

when you're thinking about adult men with no disabilities,

but as some of them already began to notice,

it doesn't do so well when you think about women,

because women's oppression has always been partly occasioned...

by their physical weakness, compared to men.

And so if you leave out that physical asymmetry,

you may be leaving out a problem that a theory of justice will need to fix.

But it certainly does not do well when we think about justice...

for people with serious physical and mental disabilities.

And in fact, some of the theorists who noticed that said,

"Well, this is a problem, but we'll just have to solve it later.

We'll get the theory first, then we'll work on this problem at some other point."

Well, my thought is that this is not a small problem.

There are a lot of people with serious physical and mental disabilities.

But not only that, but it's all of us-

when we're little children and as we age.

How do you think about justice when you're dealing with bodies...

that are very, very unequal in their ability and their power?

And perhaps even harder,

how do you think about it when you're dealing with...

mental powers that are very, very unequal in their potential?

And I think that this is a really serious political problem.

We have only just began to understand how to educate children with disabilities,

how to think about their political representation,

how to design cities that are open to them.

I mean, this bridge we walked across, a person in a wheelchair can go over that bridge.

But, you know, 50 years ago that would not have been the case.

There would have been steps, and that person could not get to see this beautiful lakeshore.

The capabilities approach, as I've developed it as a theory of justice,

begins with the idea that all human beings...

have an inherent dignity...

and require life circumstances...

that are worthy of that dignity.

The areas of life that seem to me particularly important...

when we think about the capabilities are;

of course life is the very most basic one;

bodily health; bodily integrity;

the development of the senses, imagination and thought;

the development of practical reasoning;

the development of affiliations, both more informal,

in the family and friendship but also in the political community;

the development of the ability to play...

and have recreational opportunities;

the ability to have relationships...

with other creatures and the world of nature;

developing emotional capabilities,

because I think a lot of theories leave out the fact...

that we don't want to have lives that are filled with fear, for example.

In my view, people get together to form a society...

not because they're afraid...

and they want to strike a deal for mutual advantage,

but it's much more out of love...

that they want to join with others in creating a world that's as good as it can be.

The Description of Examined Life [2008] - Martha Nussbaum.avi