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Martha Nussbaum's Argument Analysis

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When it comes to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, I believe that he has found a common thread in humanity in the fact that humans strive for the moderate in living virtuously. However, I would argue that the thread is varied enough to have no true worth in discerning the aspects of humanity. People have too different moralities and goals. Because Aristotle allows for these “local variations”, as Martha Nussbaum later terms in her defense of Aristotle, he is acknowledging that there cannot be an overarching analysis of humanity. He leaves room for error here in order for his logic to not be fully challenged and disregarded, but this is allowing for relativism, exactly what Martha Nussbaum argues against in her Non-Relative Virtues: An Aristotelian…show more content…
Nussbaum attempts to explain her understanding of Aristotle’s argument, “What he does, in each case, is to isolate a sphere of human experience that figures in more or less any human life, and in which more or less any human being will have to make some choices rather than others, and act in some way rather than another”. Instead of giving any concrete forms to living virtuously, Nussbaum explains there is a general way that Aristotle says that we should act. This is where Nussbaum’s and Aristotle’s argument connect in their generalities and therefore, things get messy. In saying that there is a general framework, this allows for variations in relating certain actions to certain virtues. For example, if someone were to take their many Christmas presents and give them to a family who did not receive any gifts, this could be seen as temperance or generosity depending on the way you look at it. This then forces an overlap of the spheres, meaning instead of individual spheres of human experience, all experiences end up connecting with each other, perpetuating the theme of relativism. In a science example, if one looks at the periodic table and different molecules, CH4 and HSO4 could be considered in the same sphere in this sense because they both contain hydrogen, but in reality are totally different molecules with very different uses. Just because one part of something could be similar to a part of something else, does not mean that these things are the same or even similar. By using these general terms and making a general framework, this leaves room for variation and overlap, proving that this argument regarding separate spheres of human experience is baseless and that they are all much more connected and
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