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Leading philosopher to discuss anger and revolutionary justice

October 26, 2017

Martha Nussbaum
Martha Nussbaum is the 2016 recipient of the Kyoto Prize, often considered the most prestigious award offered in fields not eligible for a Nobel Prize. Photo by Sally Ryan.

Is it possible to fight injustice without anger?

Martha Nussbaum, an internationally celebrated philosopher, will explore that question during the inaugural Distinguished Public Lecture of the Program in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Virginia Tech.

The lecture, rescheduled from earlier this year, will take place Nov. 3 from 4 to 6 p.m. in the McBryde Hall Auditorium at 225 Stanger St. in Blacksburg.

“It’s a distinct honor to have Professor Nussbaum speak at Virginia Tech,” said Michael Moehler, director of the Program in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. “In addition to being a highly accomplished scholar in philosophy, politics, and economics, Professor Nussbaum is a role model for women inside and outside of academia and a pioneer in issues of diversity and inclusion, especially in the context of the topic of social justice.”

Nussbaum will base her lecture on ideas and research explored in her most recent book, "Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice," published by Oxford University Press in 2016. In the book, Nussbaum, the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, argues for a political discourse that is guided by forgiveness rather than anger. She centers her discussion on an analysis of such political leaders as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela.

“The goal of the PPE Distinguished Public Lecture is to foster dialogue among faculty, students, and the public about important problems that our contemporary societies face,” said Moehler, who is also an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech. “Professor Nussbaum’s talk should be relevant to anyone interested in the political discourse in our society and its future, especially amid the controversies now swirling on the national stage.”

Nussbaum, who holds nearly 60 honorary degrees from universities on five continents, won the 2016 Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy. The Kyoto Prize is often considered the most prestigious award offered in fields not eligible for a Nobel Prize.

The philosopher has taught at Harvard University, where she earned her doctorate; Brown University; and Oxford University. From 1986 to 1993, while on the Brown faculty, she served as a research advisor to the World Institute for Development Economics Research, a part of the United Nations University, in Helsinki. She has chaired the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on International Cooperation, the Committee on the Status of Women, and the Committee for Public Philosophy.

Virginia Tech students, faculty, and staff are welcome to attend the lecture, as are members of the community. A public reception will follow the talk. No tickets are required.

The Program in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Virginia Tech is an interdisciplinary program that involves 12 departments in seven colleges. Its lecture series is sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, the College of Science, the Department of Philosophy, the Department of Political Science, the Department of Economics, and the Provost’s Office at Virginia Tech. This year’s lecture is also supported by the Edward S. Diggs Chair in the Humanities; the Edward S. Diggs Chair in the Social Sciences; the Department of English; the Department of Sociology; the Department of Science, Technology, and Society; the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures; the Women’s and Gender Studies Program; and ASPECT, the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought.

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