Giulio Sacco

Love’s bellows or source of injustice? Reflections on compassion from Martha Nussbaum

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Although one is intuitively led to consider empathy and compassion important for ethical reflection, some philosophers have argued that they are not related to justice, insofar as they are partial and parochial. The aim of this article is to examine Martha Nussbaum’s defense of the ethical role of compassion. The first part of the essay discusses Nussbaum’s account of this emotion, and the characteristics that she indicates as fundamental to arouse it. As a result, it analyzes her strategy to make it as inclusive as possible, and the eventual objections to this model, taking into consideration Paul Bloom’s recent proposal. After arguing that a total avoidance of the emotional element would be unfavorable from a practical point of view, I finally sustain that compassion has an intrinsic as well as instrumental value, which makes it significant for ethical reflection.


  • compassion –
  • emotions –
  • Martha Nussbaum –
  • moral psychology –
  • impartiality


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