Justice - What Is the Right Thing To Do?

Episode 2. It seems Harvard University is making Michael Sandel's popular course on justice publicly available in its entirety, so I will continue to post episodes on a regular basic (most likely weekly).

The first of today's lectures presents an analysis and application of utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham's felicific calculus. The idea is simple: since utilitarianism is a consequentialist moral theory, when deciding on how to act, we ought to perform a cost-benefit analysis and choose to act in such a way as to maximize utility (quantitatively) for the greatest number involved (no word on how to distribute that utility).

The second lecture starts with a famous and hilarious account of what happens when you take seriously the notion that all values can be assigned a numeric rate. This opens the door for Sandel to introduce philosopher John Stuart Mill's analysis of lower and higher pleasures and the question of whether the value of different kinds of pleasure can be evaluated from within utilitarianism or whether that represents a violation of the utilitarian framework.

50 pence a night? Man, I think I've been getting ripped off! :)

Learn more about Jeremy Bentham's contributions to free thought here.

Episode list: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.
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