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Justice: What’s The Right Thing To Do? Episode 09: “ARGUING AFFIRMATIVE ACTION”


ploaded by Harvard on Sep 4, 2009
PART ONE: ARGUING AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
PART TWO: WHAT’S THE PURPOSE?
Part 1
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. Should we try to correct for inequality in educational backgrounds by taking race into consideration? Should we compensate for historical injustices such as slavery and segregation? Is the argument in favor of promoting diversity a valid one? How does it size up against the argument that a students efforts and achievements should carry more weight than factors that are out of his or her control and therefore arbitrary? When a universitys stated mission is to increase diversity, is it a violation of rights to deny a white person admission?

PART TWO: WHATS THE PURPOSE?

Sandel introduces Aristotle and his theory of justice. Aristotle disagrees with Rawls and Kant. He believes that justice is about giving people their due, what they deserve. When considering matters of distribution, Aristotle argues one must consider the goal, the end, the purpose of what is being distributed. The best flutes, for example, should go to the best flute players. And the highest political offices should go to those with the best judgment and the greatest civic virtue. For Aristotle, justice is a matter of fitting a persons virtues with an appropriate role.
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Education
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Harvard: Justice what’s the right thing to do 03


Harvard: Justice what’s the right thing to do 03 ( Michael Sandel )

Uploaded by Harvard on Sep 8, 2009
ART ONE: FREE TO CHOOSE

Sandel introduces the libertarian conception of individual rights, according to which only a minimal state is justified. Libertarians argue that government shouldnt have the power to enact laws that 1) protect people from themselves, such as seat belt laws, 2) impose some peoples moral values on society as a whole, or 3) redistribute income from the rich to the poor. Sandel explains the libertarian notion that redistributive taxation is akin to forced labor with references to Bill Gates and Michael Jordan.

PART TWO: WHO OWNS ME?

Libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick makes the case that taxing the wealthy—to pay for housing, health care, and education for the poor—is a form of coercion. Students first discuss the arguments behind redistributive taxation. Dont most poor people need the social services they receive in order to survive? 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.
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Education
License:
Standard YouTube License

Harvard: Justice what’s the right thing to do 02


Harvard: Justice what’s the right thing to do 02 ( Michael Sandel )

Uploaded by Harvard on Sep 8, 2009
PART ONE: 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 TWO: 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.
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Education
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Harvard: Justice what’s the right thing to do 01


Harvard: Justice what’s the right thing to do 01

Uploaded by Harvard on Sep 4, 2009
PART ONE: 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. After the majority of students votes for killing the one person in order to save the lives of five others, Sandel presents three similar moral conundrums—each one artfully designed to make the decision more difficult. As students stand up to defend their conflicting choices, it becomes clear that the assumptions behind our moral reasoning are often contradictory, and the question of what is right and what is wrong is not always black and white.

PART TWO: THE CASE FOR CANNIBALISM

Sandel introduces the principles of utilitarian philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, with a famous nineteenth century legal case involving a shipwrecked crew of four. After nineteen days lost at sea, the captain decides to kill the weakest amongst them, the young cabin boy, so that the rest can feed on his blood and body to survive. The case sets up a classroom debate about the moral validity of utilitarianism—and its doctrine that the right thing to do is whatever produces “the greatest good for the greatest number.”
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Education
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Standard YouTube License

An Introduction to Michael Sandel’s ” Justice ” course ( Harvard )


I spoke in my ” About ” how I was a big fan of Michael Sandel. It might even be an understatement!
I started looking on ” You tube ” at his course which I accidentally fell upon when he was on the front page.
In the beginning I took it as a challenge, but I was quickly hooked on it!
I never thought philosophy could be so fascinating, so intricately deep, so moral and so addictive 🙂
He is a genius in allowing the subject to be easy to understand and make sense.
When the course finished, I felt like an orphan.
What was I thinking? That the course would be going on forever?
I’ll post this introduction and will go on posting the whole course for the lovers of philosophy and whoever is not, this blog has enough material for all.
Enjoy it and let me know your impression.

Uploaded by MacmillanUSA on Jul 13, 2009
Professor Michael J. Sandel previews his series and book “Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?”, taken from his popular course at Harvard University.

http://us.macmillan.com/justice-2
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Entertainment
License:
Standard YouTube License