Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Justice ~ by Michael J. Sandel

Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? ~ by Michael J. Sandel, 2009
What are our obligations to others as people in a free society?  Is it sometimes wrong to tell the truth?  Is it possible, or desirable, to legislate morality? Is killing sometimes morally required?  Do individual rights and the common good conflict?  Should government tax the rich to help the poor?  Is the free market fair?  Michael J. Sandel’s “Justice” course is one of the most popular and influential at Harvard.
"Justice" is one of the most popular courses in Harvard’s history.  Harvard has opened its classroom to the world.  Professor Michael 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, torture, stealing a drug that your child needs to survive.  Notice that each of these twelve classes has two topics, which we'll discuss separately.

Harvard class videos
Harvard assigned readings
About the author
Harvard faculty page
1a ~ The Moral Side of Murder
1b ~ The Case for Cannibalism
2a ~ Putting a Price Tag on Life
2b ~ How to Measure Pleasure
3a ~ Free to Choose
3b ~ Who Owns Me?
4a ~ This Land is my Land
4b ~ Consenting Adults
5a ~ Hired Guns?
5b ~ Motherhood: For Sale
6a ~ Mind Your Motive
6b ~ The Supreme Principle of Morality
7a ~ A Lesson in Lying
7b ~ A Deal is a Deal
8a ~ What's a Fair Start?
8b ~ What Do We Deserve?
9a ~ Arguing Affirmative Action
9b ~ What's the Purpose?
10a ~ The Good Citizen
10b ~ Freedom vs. Fit
11a ~ The Claims of Community
11b ~ Where Our Loyalty Lies
12a ~ Debating Same-sex Marriage
12b ~ The Good Life

You are welcome to watch Harvard's video, do the readings they provide (not all episodes have related readings), and come here to see what's being said.  You can answer earlier questions as well as the current one.

Here's your first question:   Does morality interest you enough that you'll join us in exploring the ideas?  (Answer this one in the comments below.)