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Justice – Harvard Video Course

Justice - Harvard Video Course

Justice Harvard Video Course
Time: 55min/lecture | Audio: stereo@64kbs | Video: mpeg4@29.93 fps | Size: 3.15 GB

WHO IS Michael J. Sandel
Michael J. Sandel is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University, where he has taught political philosophy since 1980. His books include Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (Cambridge University Press, 1982; 2nd edition, 1997; translated into eight foreign languages); Democracys Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy (Harvard University Press, 1996); Public Philosophy: Essays on Morality in Politics (Harvard University Press, 2005); and The Case Against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering (Harvard University Press, 2007). His writings also appear in The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, and The New York Times.

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Justice is one of the most popular courses in Harvards history, having taught more than 14,000 students over the course of two decades.In this course, Sandel challenges us with difficult moral dilemmas and asks our opinion about the right thing to do. He then asks us to examine our answers in the light of new scenarios. The results are often surprising, revealing that important moral questions are never black and white.This course also addresses the hot topics of our day affirmative action, same sex marriage, patriotism and rights and Sandel shows us that we can revisit familiar controversies with a fresh perspective. Each lecture in this course has two parts as well as related readings and discussion guides.

Lecture 1 The Morality of Murder
Part 1 The Moral Side of Murder: If you had to choose between (1) killing one person to save the lives of five others and (2) doing nothing, even though you knew that five people would die right before your eyes if you did nothing what would you do? What would be the right thing to do? Thats the hypothetical scenario Professor Michael Sandel uses to launch his course on moral reasoning.
Part 2 The Case for Cannibalism: Sandel introduces the principles of utilitarian philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, with a famous nineteenth century law case involving a shipwrecked crew of four. After nineteen days lost at sea, the captain decides to kill the cabin boy, the weakest amongst them, so they can feed on his blood and body to survive.

Lecture 2 How Much is a Life Worth?
Part 1 Putting a Price Tag on Life: Today, companies and governments often use Jeremy Benthams utilitarian logic under the name of cost benefit analysis. Sandel presents some contemporary cases in which cost benefit analysis was used to put a dollar value on human life. The cases give rise to several objections to the utilitarian logic of seeking the greatest good for the greatest number. Should we always give more weight to the happiness of a majority, even if the majority is cruel or ignoble? Is it possible to sum up and compare all values using a common measure like money?
Part 2 How to Measure Pleasure: Sandel introduces J.S. Mill, a utilitarian philosopher who attempts to defend utilitarianism against the objections raised by critics of the doctrine. Mill argues that seeking the greatest good for the greatest number is compatible with protecting individual rights, and that utilitarianism can make room for a distinction between higher and lower pleasures. Mills idea is that the higher pleasure is always the pleasure preferred by a well informed majority. Sandel tests this theory by playing video clips from three very different forms of entertainment: Shakespeares Hamlet, the reality show Fear Factor, and The Simpsons. Students debate which experience provides the higher pleasure, and whether Mills defense of utilitarianism is successful.

Lecture 3 Redistributive Taxation and Progressive Taxation Freedom to Choose
Part 1 Free to Choose: With humorous references to Bill Gates and Michael Jordan, Sandel introduces the libertarian notion that redistributive taxation taxing the rich to give to the poor is akin to forced labor.
PART 2 Who Owns Me?: Students first discuss the arguments behind redistributive taxation. If you live in a society that has a system of progressive taxation, arent you obligated to pay your taxes? Dont many rich people often acquire their wealth through sheer luck or family fortune? A group of students dubbed Team Libertarian volunteers to defend the libertarian philosophy against these objections.

Lecture 4 Natural Rights and Giving Them Up
Part 1 This Land is My Land: The philosopher John Locke believes that individuals have certain rights to life, liberty, and property which were given to us as human beings in the the state of nature, a time before government and laws were created. According to Locke, our natural rights are governed by the law of nature, known by reason, which says that we can neither give them up nor take them away from anyone else.
Part 2 Consenting Adults: If we all have unalienable rights to life, liberty, and property, how can a government enforce tax laws passed by the representatives of a mere majority? Doesnt that amount to taking some peoples property without their consent? Lockes response is that we give our tacit consent to obey the tax laws passed by a majority when we choose to live in a society.

Lecture 5 Avoiding the Draft and Avoiding Parenthood
Part 1 Hired Guns?: During the Civil War, men drafted into war had the option of hiring substitutes to fight in their place. Many students say they find that policy unjust, arguing that it is unfair to allow the affluent to avoid serving and risking their lives by paying less privileged citizens to fight in their place. This leads to a classroom debate about war and conscription. Is todays voluntary army open to the same objection?
Part 2 For Sale: Motherhood: Professor Sandel examines the principle of free market exchange as it relates to reproductive rights. Sandel begins with a humorous discussion of the business of egg and sperm donation. He then describes the case of Baby M a famous legal battle that raised the unsettling question, Who owns a baby? Students debate the nature of informed consent, the morality of selling a human life, and the meaning of maternal rights.

Lecture 6 Motives and Morality
Part 1 Mind Your Motive: Professor Sandel introduces Immanuel Kant, a challenging but influential philosopher. Kant rejects utilitarianism. He argues that each of us has certain fundamental duties and rights that take precedence over maximizing utility. Kant rejects the notion that morality is about calculating consequences. When we act out of duty doing something simply because it is right only then do our actions have moral worth.
Part 2 Supreme Principal of Morality: Immanuel Kant says that insofar as our actions have moral worth, what confers moral worth is our capacity to rise above self interest and inclination and to act out of duty. Sandel tells the true story of a thirteen year old boy who won a spelling bee contest, but then admitted to the judges that he had, in fact, misspelled the final word.

Lecture 7 Lying and Principles
Part 1 A Lesson in Lying: Immanuel Kant believed that telling a lie, even a white lie, is a violation of ones own dignity. Professor Sandel asks students to test Kants theory with this hypothetical case: if your friend were hiding inside your home, and a person intent on killing your friend came to your door and asked you where he was, would it be wrong to tell a lie? This leads to a video clip of one of the most famous, recent examples of dodging the truth: President Clinton talking about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
Part 2 A Deal is a Deal: Sandel introduces the modern philosopher, John Rawls, who argues that a fair set of principles would be those principles we would all agree to if we had to choose rules for our society and no one had any unfair bargaining power.

Lecture 8 Whats Fair and Deserved?
Part 1 Whats a Fair Start?: Rawls argues that even meritocracy a distributive system that rewards effort doesnt go far enough in leveling the playing field because those who are naturally gifted will always get ahead. Furthermore, says Rawls, the naturally gifted cant claim much credit because their success often depends on factors as arbitrary as birth order. Sandel makes Rawlss point when he asks the students who were first born in their family to raise their hands.
Part 2 What Do We Deserve?: Sandel discusses the fairness of pay differentials in modern society. He compares the salary of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day OConnor (200,000) with the salary of televisions Judge Judy (25 million). Sandel asks, is this fair? According to John Rawls, it is not.

Lecture 9 Affirmative Action and Purpose
Part 1 Arguing Affirmative Action: Sandel describes the 1996 court case of a white woman named Cheryl Hopwood who was denied admission to a Texas law school, even though she had higher grades and test scores than some of the minority applicants who were admitted. Hopwood took her case to court, arguing the schools affirmative action program violated her rights. Students discuss the pros and cons of affirmative action.
Part 2 Whats the Purpose?: Aristotle disagrees with Rawls and Kant. When considering matters of distribution, Aristotle argues one must consider the goal, the end, the purpose of what is being distributed. Justice is a matter of fitting a persons virtues with an appropriate role. And the highest political offices should go to those with the best judgment and the greatest civic virtue.

Lecture 10 The Good Citizen and the Freedom to Choose
Part 1 The Good Citizen: Aristotle believes the purpose of politics is to promote and cultivate the virtue of its citizens. The telos or goal of the state and political community is the good life. And those citizens who contribute most to the purpose of the community are the ones who should be most rewarded. But how do we know the purpose of a community or a practice? Aristotles theory of justice leads to a contemporary debate about golf. Sandel describes the case of Casey Martin, a disabled golfer, who sued the PGA after it declined his request to use a golf cart on the PGA Tour. The case leads to a debate about the purpose of golf and whether a players ability to walk the course is essential to the game.
Part 2 Freedom vs. Fit: How does Aristotle address the issue of individual rights and the freedom to choose? If our place in society is determined by where we best fit, doesnt that eliminate personal choice? What if I am best suited to do one kind of work, but I want to do another? In this lecture, Sandel addresses one of the most glaring objections to Aristotles views on freedom his defense of slavery as a fitting social role for certain human beings. Students discuss other objections to Aristotles theories and debate whether his philosophy overly restricts the freedom of individuals.

Lecture 11 Obligations and Loyalties
Part 1 The Claims of Community: Communitarians argue that, in addition to voluntary and universal duties, we also have obligations of membership, solidarity, and loyalty. These obligations are not necessarily based on consent. We inherit our past, and our identities, from our family, city, or country. But what happens if our obligations to our family or community come into conflict with our universal obligations to humanity?
Part 2 Where Our Loyalties Lie: Do we owe more to our fellow citizens that to citizens of other countries? Is patriotism a virtue, or a prejudice for ones own kind? If our identities are defined by the particular communities we inhabit, what becomes of universal human rights?

Lecture 12 Same Sex Marriage
Part 1 Debating Same Sex Marraige: If principles of justice depend on the moral or intrinsic worth of the ends that rights serve, how should we deal with the fact that people hold different ideas and conceptions of what is good? Students address this question in a heated debate about whether same sex marriage should be legal. Can we settle the matter without discussing the moral permissibility of homosexuality or the purpose of marriage?
Part 2 The Good Life: Sandel believes government cant be neutral on difficult moral questions, such as same sex marriage and abortion, and asks why we shouldnt deliberate all issues including economic and civic concerns with that same moral and spiritual aspiration. In his final lecture, Professor Michael Sandel eloquently makes the case for a new politics of the common good. Engaging, rather than avoiding, the moral convictions of our fellow citizens may be the best way of seeking a just society.


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