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Anger, Fear, and the Politics of Blame
February 22, 2019 @ 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
The Annual Tanner-McMurrin Lecture with Professor Martha Nussbaum of the Chicago Law School.
Sponsored by Westminster College and University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law.
4:00 p.m., Lecture + Q&A
5:30-6:30 p.m., Reception
6:30-7:00 p.m., Book Signing
World-renowned scholar Martha Nussbaum will speak on the emotional dimension of politics in the current political crisis. Her lecture investigates “the climate of simmering anger that disfigures most modern democracies, expressing itself in blaming and targeting of unpopular groups.”
Martha C. Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago. Her books in philosophy, law, education, gender studies, and other related areas are among the most important and influential publications in these fields.
This lecture investigates the climate of simmering anger that disfigures most modern democracies, expressing itself in blaming and targeting of unpopular groups. I argue that a philosophical analysis of anger and its roots in experience of powerlessness can help us as we move forward. Beginning with an example from Greek tragedy in which retributive anger is refashioned into constructive work and hope, I focus on the role of retributive desires in most instances of everyday anger. I argue that the desire for payback is counter-productive, since replicating the offense does not correct it. I then look at the roots of retributive desires in experiences of helplessness. I argue that there is just one species of anger that can help us as we move forward. Called “Transition-Anger” because it faces toward the future, it has the following content: “How outrageous that is! It must not happen again.” This type of anger eschews retributive thinking in favor of constructive work and hope. I show its relevance by studying the U. S. Civil Rights movement and the thought of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Free parking is available at the Rice-Eccles Stadium. We encourage you to use public transportation to our events. Take TRAX University line to the Stadium stop and walk a half block north. For other public transit options use UTA’s Trip Planner. The law school is on the Red Route for the University’s free campus shuttles (College of Law stop).
Martha C. Nussbaum, The University of Chicago Law School
Martha C. Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, appointed in the Law School and Philosophy Department at the University of Chicago. She is an Associate in the Classics Department, the Divinity School, and the Political Science Department, a Member of the Committee on Southern Asian Studies, and a Board Member of the Human Rights Program. She received her BA from NYU and her MA and PhD from Harvard. She has taught at Harvard University, Brown University, and Oxford University.
Professor Nussbaum is an Academician in the Academy of Finland, a Fellow of the British Academy, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. In addition to her numerous national and international awards, she has received over 60 honorary degrees from colleges and universities in the US, Canada, Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Her books in philosophy, law, education, gender studies, and other related areas are among the most important and influential publications in these fields.