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Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do; Moral Side of Murder, The; The Case for Cannibalism

05/15/2009

EPISODE ONE: Lecture One: If you had to choose between killing one person or five, what would you do? What’s the right thing to do? Professor Michael Sandel launches into his lecture series by presenting students with a hypothetical scenario that has the majority of students voting for killing one person in order to save the lives of five others. But then Sandel presents three similar moral conundrums – each one artfully designed to make the decision increasingly complex. As students stand up to defend their conflicting choices, Sandel’s point is made. 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. Lecture Two: Sandel introduces the principles of Utilitarian philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, with a famous 19th century law case involving a shipwrecked crew of four. After 19 days lost at sea, the captain decides to kill the cabin boy, the weakest amongst them, so they can feed on his blood and body to survive. The case leads to a debate among students about the moral validity of the Utilitarian theory of maximizing overall happiness – often summed up with the slogan “the greatest good for the greatest number”.


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Series
Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do
Program
Moral Side of Murder, The; The Case for Cannibalism
Program Number

101

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

Lecture One: "The Moral Side of Murder" If you had to choose between killing one person or five, what would you do? What's the right thing to do? Professor Michael Sandel launches into his lecture series by presenting students with a hypothetical scenario that has the majority of students voting for killing one person in order to save the lives of five others. But then Sandel presents three similar moral conundrums -- each one artfully designed to make the decision increasingly complex. As students stand up to defend their conflicting choices, Sandel's point is made. 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. Lecture Two: "The Case for Cannibalism" Sandel introduces the principles of Utilitarian philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, with a famous 19th century law case involving a shipwrecked crew of four. After 19 days lost at sea, the captain decides to kill the cabin boy, the weakest amongst them, so they can feed on his blood and body to survive. The case leads to a debate among students about the moral validity of the Utilitarian theory of maximizing overall happiness -- often summed up with the slogan "the greatest good for the greatest number".

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; Moral Side of Murder, The; The Case for Cannibalism,” 05/15/2009, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed December 5, 2016, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_BE8332C325D741DC9CACF6EB2725D811.
MLA: “Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do; Moral Side of Murder, The; The Case for Cannibalism.” 05/15/2009. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. December 5, 2016. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_BE8332C325D741DC9CACF6EB2725D811>.
APA: Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do; Moral Side of Murder, The; The Case for Cannibalism. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_BE8332C325D741DC9CACF6EB2725D811
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