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Guest Martha Nussbaum On Anger

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On Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice(2016). What role should we allow anger to play in our public life? Should systems of punishment be strictly impartial, or should they be retributive, i.e., expressive of public anger? Nussbaum thinks that anger necessarily involves the desire for payback, and that this is nearly always unhelpful. We should instead use anger (or rather, change it into ""transition anger"") to look toward the future and prevent future harm.

Whether in personal relationships, dealings with acquaintances, or in setting policy, anger as desire for payback tends only to further exacerbate bad situations. And ""transactional forgiveness,"" i.e., debasing someone and making them jump through hoops before you accept an apology, is a historical relic that also just expresses hostility. But what about social justice—can anger help us focus on achieving that? Doesn't punishment need to express our collective anger against undesirable behaviors and those who perform them? Nussbaum is an engaging and provocative speaker, and Mark, Wes, and Dylan were happy to get to talk with her. Here's the Huffington Post article she wrote on sexual assault that she mentions. [Part One ]

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