What is justice? Michael Sandel on the lost art of democratic debate

This is the kind of stuff that makes me miss college. Political philosopher Michael Sandel takes the audience from discussions of flute distribution and the fair use of golf carts, to vastly more important questions of morality and justice:

Sandel makes a very interesting point. It’s often argued — and I usually agree — that religion should be kept out of the American public sphere (Damon Linker explains why here); but while public policy should never be decided according to the explicit code of any specific religion, surely what Sandel calls for is reasonable: “to engage directly with the moral convictions citizens bring to public life, rather than to require that people leave their deepest moral convictions outside politics before they enter.”

And this also excites me:

Wouldn’t it be interesting to take this way of thinking and arguing, engaging seriously with big moral questions, exploring cultural differences and connect through a live video hookup, students in Beijing and Mumbai and in Cambridge, Massachusetts and create a global classroom. That’s what I would love to do.

May it be so. Sandel has a new book out, Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?, and has made his Harvard lectures on the subject freely available online, at YouTube and on his website. Kudos to him for inviting the whole world into his classroom, to engage in meaty, critical thinking.

(via TED.com)


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