Episode 309

Vulnerability, Politics, and Moral Worth

A Conversation with Martha C. Nussbaum

January 19, 2023

Sam Harris speaks with Martha C. Nussbaum about her philosophical work. They discuss the relevance of philosophy to personal and political problems, the influence of religion, the problem of dogmatism, the importance of Greek and Roman philosophy for modern thought, the Stoic view of emotions, anger and retribution, deterrence, moral luck, sexual harassment, the philosophical significance of Greek tragedy, grief, human and animal flourishing, the "capabilities approach" to valuing conscious life, the rightness or wrongness of moral hierarchies, "the fragility of goodness," and other topics.

Martha C. Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, appointed in the Philosophy Department and the Law School of the University of Chicago. She gave the 2016 Jefferson Lecture for the National Endowment for the Humanities and won the 2016 Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy, the 2018 Berggruen Prize in Philosophy and Culture, and the 2020 Holberg Prize. These three prizes are regarded as the most prestigious awards available in fields not eligible for a Nobel. She has written more than twenty-two books, including Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions; Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice; Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities; and The Monarchy of Fear.

Website: simonandschuster.com


Learning how to train your mind is the single greatest investment you can make in life. That’s why Sam Harris created the Waking Up app. From rational mindfulness practice to lessons on some of life’s most important topics, join Sam as he demystifies the practice of meditation and explores the theory behind it.