Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law

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Princeton University Press, 2004 - Law - 413 pages
4 Reviews

Should laws about sex and pornography be based on social conventions about what is disgusting? Should felons be required to display bumper stickers or wear T-shirts that announce their crimes? This powerful and elegantly written book, by one of America's most influential philosophers, presents a critique of the role that shame and disgust play in our individual and social lives and, in particular, in the law.

Martha Nussbaum argues that we should be wary of these emotions because they are associated in troubling ways with a desire to hide from our humanity, embodying an unrealistic and sometimes pathological wish to be invulnerable. Nussbaum argues that the thought-content of disgust embodies "magical ideas of contamination, and impossible aspirations to purity that are just not in line with human life as we know it." She argues that disgust should never be the basis for criminalizing an act, or play either the aggravating or the mitigating role in criminal law it currently does. She writes that we should be similarly suspicious of what she calls "primitive shame," a shame "at the very fact of human imperfection," and she is harshly critical of the role that such shame plays in certain punishments.

Drawing on an extraordinarily rich variety of philosophical, psychological, and historical references--from Aristotle and Freud to Nazi ideas about purity--and on legal examples as diverse as the trials of Oscar Wilde and the Martha Stewart insider trading case, this is a major work of legal and moral philosophy.

  

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Review: Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law

User Review  - Josephine Ensign - Goodreads

This is a fascinating book that covers a lot of territory in an intelligent and engaging way. I especially liked Nussbaum's exploration of shame and stigma related to poverty, specifically to the ... Read full review

Review: Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law

User Review  - laura - Goodreads

the only time i ever think martha nussbaum is anything special is every moment that i'm actually reading something she's written. gorgeous. Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
Two Problematic Emotions
13
Emotions and Law
19
Emotions and Political Liberalism
56
Disgust and Our Animal Bodies
71
Disgust and Law
72
Devlin Kass Miller Kahan
75
The Cognitive Content of Disgust
87
The Case of B
189
Humiliation Embarrassment
203
Disgust Guilt Depression Rage
206
Constructive Shame?
211
Shame in Social Life
217
Shaming Citizens?
222
Shame and the Facilitating Environment
223
Dignity and Narcissistic Rage
227

Disgust and Indignation
99
Projective Disgust and Group Subordination
107
Disgust Exclusion Civilization
115
Disgust and the Law
124
Disgust as Offense Disgust as Criterion
125
The HomosexualProvocation Defense
126
Obscenity
134
Sodomy Necrophilia
147
Disgust and Nuisance Law
158
Horrible and Inhuman Homicides
163
Shame and Stigma
172
The Blushing Face
173
Primitive Shame Narcissism and the Golden Age
177
Gay Sex and Animus
250
The Gang Loitering Law
271
Mills Conclusion by Another Route
278
from Shame
280
Shame and Personal Privacy
296
Liberalism
320
Emotions and Forms of Liberalism
340
Notes
351
List of References
389
General Index
401
Index of Case Names
412
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Martha C. Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics in the Philosophy Department, Law School, and Divinity School at the University of Chicago.

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