A Psychology of Emotional Legal Decision Making: Revulsion and Saving Face in Legal Theory and Practice

27 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2006 Last revised: 10 Feb 2015


Professor Martha C. Nussbaum is an accomplished scholar in an impressive variety of fields. Drawing on her diverse academic backgrounds, Nussbaum has written extensively about emotions and their importance for law from the perspective of her primary specialty, philosophy. Her book Hiding from Humanity criticizes the roles that two particular emotions, disgust and shame, play in the law. Its central thesis is that, as legal actors, we should be wary of disgust and shame because indulging in those emotions allows us to hide from our humanity - both our humanity in the general sense and also those specific features of our humanity that are most animalistic: our vulnerability and mortality. In 2004, the Association of American Publishers awarded Hiding from Humanity its Professional and Scholarly Publishing Award for Law. Many have praised it, while others have been more critical. In light of the broad range of fields that Nussbaum draws upon in Hiding from Humanity, the book has predictably spawned much interesting discussion and commentary by law professors, literary scholars, philosophers, political scientists, and the media. Our unique contribution to this lively discourse surrounding Hiding from Humanity is an analysis of Nussbaum's argument from the perspective of recent advances in research about emotions, happiness, and well-being made by economists, legal academics, negotiation scholars, neuroscientists, and psychologists.

Keywords: Positive Emotions, Law, Disgust, Shame, Psychology

JEL Classification: A12, K00, K14, K40, K42

Suggested Citation

Huang, Peter H. and Anderson, Christopher J., A Psychology of Emotional Legal Decision Making: Revulsion and Saving Face in Legal Theory and Practice. 90 Minnesota Law Review 1045 (2006), Princeton Law and Public Affairs Working Paper No. 06-010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=894087

Peter H. Huang (Contact Author)

University of Colorado Law School ( email )

Colorado Law
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Boulder, CO 80309
United States
303 492-4563 (Phone)
303-492-1200 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://lawweb.colorado.edu/profiles/profile.jsp?id=456

No contact information is available for Christopher J. Anderson

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