Martha Nussbaum on philosophy & public life

I just came across this interview of a few months ago. Note some interesting comments about Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin…

Interview with Martha Nussbaum, “Philosophy and Public Life,” by Stelios Virvidakis for Eurozine

Political philosopher Martha Nussbaum discusses philosophy’s capacity to influence public life; the future of political liberalism and the role of the state; and her critique of radical feminist thinkers including Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin.

Stelios Virvidakis: What do you think about the possibility of philosophy playing a more active role in public life, education, applied ethics, and so on?

Martha Nussbaum: There are many possibilities. And countries are very different. I find that the US is in a way one of the most difficult places for philosophy to play a public role because the media are so sensationalistic and so anti-intellectual. If I go to most countries in Europe I’ll have a much easier time publishing in a newspaper than I would in the US. The New York Times op-ed page is very dumbed down and I no longer even bother trying to get something published there because they don’t like anything that has a complicated argument. So I find the US very frustrating. At the other end of the spectrum…[continued here]

Karl Rove’s Links

Full disclosure: I have two immediate links to Karl Rove. First, I sat next to him at a meeting in Austin, Texas, in the late 1990s when he was the political mastermind behind Dubya’s governership of Texas. There were about eight people in the room. I don’t remember saying anything but “hello” to him. Second, there was once a small item in the Austin American Statesman noting that Karl and I were two new occasional guest hosts of a public affairs program on the local public television station. My interviewees included Richard Rorty and Ernie Cortes.  I don’t think Karl ever interviewed any pragmatist philosophers or community organizers.

But enough about me. What about Karl? This morning’s New York Times has him linked to an “early query over dismissals” of U.S. attorneys. Yes, even before Alberto R. Gonzales showed up to take over the justice department, Karl Rove dropped by the office of a white house lawyer asking if it would be possible to start replacing some “underperforming” prosecutors. As Kyle Samson (a White House lawyer who later became Gonzales’ chief of staff and this week resigned), recounted in an email, “If Karl thinks there’s the political will to do it, then so do I.” In that email, Sampson also wrote, “The vast majority of U.S. Attorneys, 80-85 percent, I would guess, are doing a great job, are loyal Bushies, etc.”

Get it? Doing a good job as a U.S. attorney, in their minds, equals being a “loyal Bushy.”

I’m hoping that, contra Rorty (see his “Solidarity or Objectivity” article in his collected papers), there’s got to be more to “doing a great job” than solidarity. Or perhaps, with Rorty, solidarity can be more than narrow factionalism. A measure for even political performance should be more than does it promote the values of me and mine, of my partisan faction, but whether it promotes something a little bigger than that. Maybe a U.S. attorney should be looking out for the larger aspirations of the U.S. (and I’m hoping these are something better than what we’ve seen lately) and not just the Bush clan?

Rove so far has deflected fall out from the Valerie Plame scandal. How’s he going to fare here?

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See also today’s Daily Kos