Sex and Social Justice

Martha Craven Nussbaum, Author
Martha Craven Nussbaum, Author Oxford University Press, USA $110 (488p) ISBN 978-0-19-511032-6
Reviewed on: 02/01/1999
Release date: 02/01/1999
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Among academic stars, Nussbaum (Love's Knowledge) is one of the brightest. She combines her formidable erudition with meaningful experience beyond the ivory tower and an ability to synthesize her reading, her thinking and her experience in prose that is remarkably clear given the density of the content and the rigor of her thinking. A professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago, she presents an admirably objective and insightful work on gender inequality, drawing from her experience as a researcher with the World Institute for Development Economics Research (an agency connected with the U.N.). This book, parts of which have appeared in professional journals and magazines such as the New Republic, leaves no issue unexamined, from pornography, genital mutilation and prostitution to the effects of religion on women's rights and the conflicts caused by the biological differences between the sexes. There's also an extensive section on gay and lesbian rights, illuminating their connection to feminist platforms, and a chapter on the effect of ancient Greek norms on modern sexual controversies. Drawing on writings throughout history, Nussbaum presents conflicting theories and current thinking while bringing her own insights to each topic. With a balance of contemporary radical critiques, ancient philosophy and political liberalism, Nussbaum ultimately makes a persuasive argument that feminism can be reconciled with the traditions of classical liberalism. Nussbaum is not a popularizer; she's a deep thinker, and one of the best. With its remarkable scholarship and comprehensive research, this work is both the ultimate primer on, and a major advance in, feminist thought. (Jan.)
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