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JUSTICE Michael Sandel. The Greatest Happiness Principle Utilitarianism – The greatest happiness for the greatest number of people – Cabin boy – Objection#1.

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Presentation on theme: "JUSTICE Michael Sandel. The Greatest Happiness Principle Utilitarianism – The greatest happiness for the greatest number of people – Cabin boy – Objection#1."— Presentation transcript:

1 JUSTICE Michael Sandel

2 The Greatest Happiness Principle Utilitarianism – The greatest happiness for the greatest number of people – Cabin boy – Objection#1 – Individual rights Is torture ever justified – Objection #2 – A common currency of value (cost-benefit analysis)

3 Do We Own Ourselves? Libertarianism – The minimal state – Free market philosophy Taxing Bill Gates to help the poor – Do we own ourselves Consensual cannibalism

4 Hired Help Markets and Morals – What’s just – drafting soldiers or hiring them? Objection #1 – Fairness and freedom Objection #2 – Civic virtue and the common good – Outsourcing pregnancy – Questions: How free are the choices we make in a free market? Are there certain virtues and higher goods that markets do not honor and money cannot buy?

5 What Matters Is the Motive Immanuel Kant – The Categorical Imperative – Emphasis on human dignity – people as ends in themselves Autonomous according to a law we give ourselves – Free will (non- deterministic) What’s moral? Look for the motive – do the right thing for the right reason. Duty vs. inclination – I.e. Kant was against casual sex.

6 The Case for Equality John Rawls – The moral limits of contracts – Behind a veil of ignorance Not utilitarianism The difference principle – only those social and economic inequalities are permitted that work to the benefit of the least advantaged members of society. – Did Gates’s wealth arise as part of system that, taken as a whole, works to the benefit of the least well off? – Incentives – CEOs and sports starts don’t deserve more money but because a system of progressive taxation helps the disadvantaged

7 Rawls: – Share each other’s fate and avail ourselves of the accidents of nature and social circumstance only when doing so is for the common benefit. – The most compelling case for more equal society that American political philosophy as yet produced.

8 Arguing Affirmative Action Correcting for the testing gap Compensating for past wrongs Promoting diversity Do racial preferences violate rights? – Racial segregation and anti-jewish quotas Can justice be detached from moral desert? The proper mission of social institutions is contested and fraught …

9 Who Deservers What? Aristotle – Justice, Telos and Honor – Justice is teleological – Defining rights requires us to figure out the telos (the purpose, end, or essential nature) of the social practice in question. – Justice is honorific – To reason about the purpose of practice, means to reason (argue) about what virtues it should honor and reward. – What’s the purpose of university, of politics? Learning by doing – learning by deliberation and discussion Negotiating between two extremes

10 What Do We Owe Each Other Dilemmas of Loyalty – Apologies and reparations – Should we atone for the sins of our predecessors? – Moral individualism – Should government by morally neutral? – Justice and freedom – The claims of the community Obligations of solidarity, loyalty historic memory, and religious faith – moral claims that arise from the communities and traditions that shape our identity. – Storytelling beings We, as moral agents, arrive at our purposes and ends through telling stories

11 Obligations beyond consent – Natural duties we owe to other human beings – to persons as persons. Three categories of moral responsibility: 1.Natural duties: universal, don’t require consent 2.Voluntary obligations: particular, require consent 3.Obligations of solidarity: particular, don’t require consent

12 Solidarity and Belonging – Family obligations – French resistance – Rescuing Ethiopian Jews Is patriotism a virtue? – Border patrols – Is it unfair to “Buy American?” Can loyalty override universal moral principles? – Robert E. Lee – The Bulger brothers and David Kaczynski

13 Justice and the Common Good Kennedy speech about religion – moral neutrality – Rawls – Need for tolerance in the face of disagreements and abide by the limits of liberal public reason. “How would our argument strike us in the form of a Supreme Court opinion?” Obama rejected moral neutrality – Abortion issue and stem cell debates and same –sex marriage Morally neutral? Freedom of choice? Depends on definitions of purpose – Committed relationship, recognition of the state

14 A politics of the common good – If a just society involves reasoning together about the good life, what kind of discourse would point us in this direction? – The challenge is to imagine a politics that takes moral and spiritual questions seriously, but brings them to bear on broad economic and civic concerns …on all issues. A just society requires a strong sense of community, and it must cultivate in citizens a concern for the whole, a dedication to the common good.

15 A politics of moral engagement – Based on mutual respect as human beings – Lack of engagement makes for an impoverished public discourse and lessening of mutual respect. – “A politics of moral engagement is not only a more inspiring ideal than a politics of avoidance. It is also a more promising basis for a just society.”


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