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Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do; Putting A Price Tag On Life; How To Measure Pleasure

05/15/2009

Closed Captioned Broadcast vPutting A Price Tag On Life; How To Measure Pleasureersion EPISODE TWO Lecture Three: Jeremy Bentham’s late 18th century Utilitarian theory – summed up as “the greatest good for the greatest number” -- is often used today under the name of “cost-benefit analysis”. Sandel presents some contemporary examples where corporations used this theory – which required assigning a dollar value on human lives – to make important business decisions. This leads to a discussion about the objections to Utilitarianism: is it fair to give more weight to the values of a majority, even when the values of the majority may be ignoble or inhumane? Lecture Four: Sandel introduces J.S. Mill, another Utilitarian philosopher, who argues that all human experience can be quantifiable, and that some kinds of pleasures are more desirable and more valuable than others. Mill argues that if society values the higher pleasures, and values justice, then society as a whole will be better off in the long run. Sandel tests this theory by showing the class three video clips -- from “The Simpsons”, the reality show “Fear Factor” and Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” – then asks students to debate which of the three experiences qualifies as the “highest” pleasure.


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Series
Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do
Program
Putting A Price Tag On Life; How To Measure Pleasure
Program Number

102

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 Three: "Putting a Price Tag on Life" Jeremy Bentham's late 18th century Utilitarian theory -- summed up as "the greatest good for the greatest number" -- is often used today under the name of "cost-benefit analysis." Sandel presents some contemporary examples where corporations used this theory -- which required assigning a dollar value on human lives -- to make important business decisions. This leads to a discussion about the objections to Utilitarianism: is it fair to give more weight to the values of a majority, even when the values of the majority may be ignoble or inhumane? Lecture Four: "How to Measure Pleasure" Sandel introduces J.S. Mill, another Utilitarian philosopher, who argues that all human experience can be quantifiable, and that some kinds of pleasures are more desirable and more valuable than others. Mill argues that if society values the higher pleasures, and values justice, then society as a whole will be better off in the long run. Sandel tests this theory by showing the class three video clips -- from The Simpsons, the reality show Fear Factor and Shakespeare's Hamlet -- then asks students to debate which of the three experiences qualifies as the "highest" pleasure.

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; Putting A Price Tag On Life; How To Measure Pleasure,” 05/15/2009, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed December 6, 2016, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_C973E5C973DA40B08AB246F1E319E7EA.
MLA: “Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do; Putting A Price Tag On Life; How To Measure Pleasure.” 05/15/2009. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. December 6, 2016. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_C973E5C973DA40B08AB246F1E319E7EA>.
APA: Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do; Putting A Price Tag On Life; How To Measure Pleasure. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_C973E5C973DA40B08AB246F1E319E7EA
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