In Love's Knowledge and Poetic Justice, Martha Nussbaum makes a compelling case for the value of reading fiction as a means to cultivate “judicious spectatorship”—Adam Smith's term for the ethical stance of a morally competent human being and responsible citizen. However, notwithstanding the power of her argument, it is essentially an argument from authority and hence, would be would be even stronger if supported by empirical data. Although not well-known within the humanities domain, such data does indeed exist, in the form of convergent lines of recent research into the neurobiological and psychological aspects of reading fiction. Supported by the fruits of this research—the accumulating evidence that reading fiction enhances social intelligence and cognitive empathy at a fundamental level—Nussbaum's confidence in the value of fiction as a “school for the moral sentiments” would appear to be supremely well-justified, and any programmatic decisions to marginalize the study of literature within the curricular spectrum supremely ill-informed.

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