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Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do; Debating Same-Sex Marriage; The Good Life

05/15/2009

EPISODE TWELVE Lecture Twenty-Two If principles of justice depend on the moral or intrinsic worth of the ends that rights serve, how does society deal with the fact that people hold different ideas and conceptions of what is good? Using the example of same-sex marriage, students debate whether it is possible to detach moral permissibility of sexuality from the end or purpose of marriage. Lecture Twenty-Three Professor Sandel raises two questions. Is it necessary to reason about the good life in order to decide what is just and what rights people have? And if that’s the case, is it possible to argue or to reason about the nature of the good life? Students debate these questions with a further discussion about government’s role in deciding the purpose of marriage. Michael Sandel concludes his lecture series by making the point that we, as individuals, may never agree on many moral philosophical issues. However, he argues, on the one hand the debate about these issues is unavoidable. And on the other hand, it is a worthwhile opportunity for all of us to better appreciate the values of others.


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Series
Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do
Program
Debating Same-Sex Marriage; The Good Life
Program Number

112

Series Description

This 12 part series invites viewers to think critically about the fundamental questions of justice, equality, democracy and citizenship. Each week, more than 1,000 students attend the lectures of Harvard University professor and author Michael Sandel, eager to expand their understanding of political and moral philosophy, as well as test long-held beliefs. Students learn about the great philosophers of the past — Aristotle, Kant, Mill, Locke — then apply the lessons to complex and sometimes volatile modern-day issues, including affirmative action, same-sex marriage, patriotism, loyalty and human rights. Sandel's teaching approach involves presenting students with an ethical dilemma — some hypothetical, others actual cases — then asking them to decide "what’s the right thing to do?" He encourages students to stand up and defend their decisions, which leads to a lively and often humorous classroom debate. Sandel then twists the ethical question around, to further test the assumptions behind their different moral choices. The process reveals the often contradictory nature of moral reasoning.

Material co-owned by Harvard and WGBH. Need both consent to reuse for any other purpose. Contact Amy Tonkonogy in Educational Productions. Series release date: 9/20/2009

Program Description

PART ONE: DEBATING SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

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 same-sex marriage. Should same-sex marriage be legal? Can we settle the matter without discussing the moral permissibility of homosexuality or the purpose of marriage?

PART TWO: THE GOOD LIFE

Professor Sandel raises two questions. Is it necessary to reason about the good life in order to decide what rights people have and what is just? If so, how is it possible to argue about the nature of the good life? Students explore these questions with a discussion about the relation of law and morality, as played out in public controversies over same-sex marriage and abortion. Michael Sandel concludes his lecture series by making the point that, in many cases, the law can’t be neutral on hard moral questions. Engaging rather than avoiding the moral convictions of our fellow citizens may be the best way of seeking a just society.

Duration

00:56:46

Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type

Video

Genres
Educational
Topics
Social Issues
Citation
Chicago: “Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do; Debating Same-Sex Marriage; The Good Life,” 05/15/2009, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed December 10, 2016, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_343E211866654404A3128AC80F9D70AE.
MLA: “Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do; Debating Same-Sex Marriage; The Good Life.” 05/15/2009. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. December 10, 2016. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_343E211866654404A3128AC80F9D70AE>.
APA: Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do; Debating Same-Sex Marriage; The Good Life. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_343E211866654404A3128AC80F9D70AE
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