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Michael Sandel: THE MORAL SIDE OF MURDER
54 minutes
MY LIST
PART ONE: THE MORAL SIDE OF MURDER <br>If you had to choose between (1) killing one person to save the lives of five others and (2) doing nothing even though you knew that five people would die right before your eyes if you did nothing—what would you do? What would be the right thing to do? Thats the hypothetical scenario Professor Michael Sandel uses to launch his course on moral reasoning. After the majority of students votes for killing the one person in order to save the lives of five others, Sandel presents three similar moral conundrums—each one artfully designed to make the decision more difficult. As students stand up to defend their conflicting choices, it becomes clear that 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. <br>PART TWO: THE CASE FOR CANNIBALISM <br>Sandel introduces the principles of utilitarian philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, with a famous nineteenth century legal case involving a shipwrecked crew of four. After nineteen days lost at sea, the captain decides to kill the weakest amongst them, the young cabin boy, so that the rest can feed on his blood and body to survive. The case sets up a classroom debate about the moral validity of utilitarianism—and its doctrine that the right thing to do is whatever produces "the greatest good for the greatest number."
Robert Greene: On The 48 Laws of Power
28 minutes
MY LIST
Host Barry Kibrick sits down with Robet Greene, author of the world famous "48 Laws of Power", to talk about what it really means to have power and be powerful in a true sense.
Robert McNamara: On Fog of War: Errol Morris and Robert McNamara interview (2003)
52 minutes
MY LIST
Director Errol Morris and former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara describe their documentary "Fog of War" which follows the life of McNamara and his experience in modern warfare.
Balaji Srinivasan: On Exiting Broken Systems
16 minutes
MY LIST
Balaji Srinivasan at Startup School 2013. This is a great talk about broken systems and how to navigate a situation in which you are stuck in a system that is broken beyond repair.
Robert McNamara: On Why Was the Vietnam War Fought?
83 minutes
MY LIST
Robert Strange McNamara (June 9, 1916 -- July 6, 2009) was an American business executive and the eighth Secretary of Defense. <br>Although he was a prime architect of the Vietnam War and repeatedly overruled the JCS on strategic matters, McNamara gradually became skeptical about whether the war could be won by deploying more troops to South Vietnam and intensifying the bombing of North Vietnam, a claim he would publish in a book years later. He also stated later that his support of the Vietnam War was given out of loyalty to administration policy. He traveled to Vietnam many times to study the situation firsthand and became increasingly reluctant to approve the large force increments requested by the military commanders. <br>McNamara said that the Domino Theory was the main reason for entering the Vietnam War. In the same interview he stated, "Kennedy hadn't said before he died whether, faced with the loss of Vietnam, he would [completely] withdraw; but I believe today that had he faced that choice, he would have withdrawn."
Sam Harris: On Joe Rogan Experience #940 with Dan Harris
179 minutes
MY LIST
Sam Harris is a neuroscientist and author of the New York Times bestsellers, The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, and The Moral Landscape. Dan Harris is a correspondent for ABC News, an anchor for Nightline and co-anchor for the weekend edition of Good Morning America.Dan is also the founder, author, and host of the book/app/podcast called "10% Happier"
Robert Caro: Q&A following discussion on Power at C-Span
60 minutes
MY LIST
Robert is a master of understanding power and political dynamics. This is a Q&A session that followed the interview at C-Span that we also feature on Genia.
Robert Caro: On The Art of Political Power with William Hague
82 minutes
MY LIST
Every industry has its guru. And when it comes to the dark arts of political statecraft, the American biographer Robert Caro is the mentor politicians turn to for guidance. His biography of President Lyndon B. Johnson has been described as ‘the greatest insight into power ever written’. Caro is revered by presidents and politicians on both sides of the Atlantic. In the US, his fans include Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. Here in Britain, his life of LBJ is George Osborne’s favourite political work and has been read by every MP and wonk in Westminster. <br> On October 27, Robert Caro made a rare appearance in London on the Intelligence Squared stage. He was joined by William Hague, the former foreign secretary and leader of the Conservative party, and himself an acclaimed political biographer. Hague quizzed Caro on the nature of political power. How is it built and preserved? Where does true political power lie? With our elected representatives, or shady figures behind the scenes? One of the most powerful operators ever, who never entered public office, is Robert Moses, the man who built modern New York City. Moses is the subject of Caro’s Pulitzer-winning 1974 biography 'The Power Broker', now published in Britain for the first time. Described as ‘a majestic, even Shakespearean, drama about the interplay of power and personality’, the book offers unparalleled insight into the use and misuse of power.
Robert Putnam: On Our Civic Life in Decline
70 minutes
MY LIST
The Harvard professor of public policy on the decline of American communities. <br> Chapter 1 (00:15 - 43:21): Our Civic Life in Decline? <br> Chapter 2 (43:21 - 1:10:26): Social Science and American Politics <br> A best-selling author ("Bowling Alone," and "Our Kids"), and professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Robert Putnam is one of America's leading political scientists. In recent years, he has written widely on the decline in America's civic life, and, with it, our capacity for self-government. In this conversation, Putnam discusses his research on declining levels of civic participation in America and presents his interpretation of the reasons for it. Putnam also recalls how actual political developments awakened his interest in political science, and explains how social science might help us address public policy problems.
Noam Chomsky: On the State of American Politics with Chris Hedges in 2017
54 minutes
MY LIST
Chris sits down with Noam Chomsky to discuss the state of American politics. They discuss the issues that exist in society at the moment, the development of those issues over the past hundred years, and how these trends may play out going forward.
Slavoj Zizek: On The Courage of Hopelessness
107 minutes
MY LIST
A copy of the live stream of Žižek's talk in Vienna on May 2017, in promotion of his upcoming book: The Courage of Hopelessness.
Richard Rorty: On Democracy and Philosophy in 1997
21 minutes
MY LIST
Noelle McAfee's 1997 interview with Richard Rorty for the public affairs show, Austin at Issue, on KLRU in Austin, Texas, in late 1997. Interesting to watch this older interview as Rorty predicts many of the political trends that have occured over the last 20 years.
Noam Chomsky: On The Future of Humanity
103 minutes
MY LIST
Chomsky talks at length about the future that he envisions for humanity. He is a terrific thinker and while you may not agree with all of his politics, he advocates for meaningful things in a highly intelligent manner.
Noam Chomsky: On The Development of His Political Views and Control of Information at Google
60 minutes
MY LIST
For the past forty years Noam Chomsky's writings on politics and language have established him as a preeminent public intellectual and as one of the most original and wide-ranging political and social critics of our time. Among the seminal figures in linguistic theory over the past century, since the 1960s Chomsky has also secured a place as perhaps the leading dissident voice in the United States. <br>In this talk from Google Cambridge in May of 2017 Professor Chomsky discusses wide ranging topics from the development of his personal political views to the control of information and media with Googler Hasan Khalil.
Robert Greene: On The 33 Strategies of War
26 minutes
MY LIST
In this classic episode of Between the Lines, Robert Greene sits with Barry Kibrick to talk about his book "The 33 Strategies of War", and discuss everything from how and why wars are fought and how they are won and loss.
Michael Sandel: On The Future of Capitalism
70 minutes
MY LIST
A conversation between Harvard Business School Professor Rebecca Henderson and Harvard University Professor Michael Sandel. They debate the future of capitalism and discuss the moral side of markets.
Robert Caro: On The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate
68 minutes
MY LIST
Robert is a master of understanding power and political dynamics. This is a Q&A session that followed the interview at C-Span that we also feature on Genia.
Robert Caro: On Political Dynamics and Power at C Span
58 minutes
MY LIST
Robert is a master of understanding power and political dynamics. This is an interview with a younger Caro in which he walks thorough his time studying L.B. Johnson and the political lessons that he learned as a result.
Michael Sandel: FREE TO CHOOSE
55 minutes
MY LIST
PART ONE: FREE TO CHOOSE <br>Sandel introduces the libertarian conception of individual rights, according to which only a minimal state is justified. Libertarians argue that government shouldnt have the power to enact laws that 1) protect people from themselves, such as seat belt laws, 2) impose some peoples moral values on society as a whole, or 3) redistribute income from the rich to the poor. Sandel explains the libertarian notion that redistributive taxation is akin to forced labor with references to Bill Gates and Michael Jordan. <br>PART TWO: WHO OWNS ME? <br>Libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick makes the case that taxing the wealthy—to pay for housing, health care, and education for the poor—is a form of coercion. Students first discuss the arguments behind redistributive taxation. Dont most poor people need the social services they receive in order to survive? If you live in a society that has a system of progressive taxation, arent you obligated to pay your taxes? Dont many rich people often acquire their wealth through sheer luck or family fortune? A group of students dubbed Team Libertarian volunteers to defend the libertarian philosophy against these objections.
Michael Sandel: PUTTING A PRICE TAG ON LIFE
55 minutes
MY LIST
PART ONE: PUTTING A PRICE TAG ON LIFE <br>Today, companies and governments often use Jeremy Benthams utilitarian logic under the name of cost-benefit analysis. Sandel presents some contemporary cases in which cost-benefit analysis was used to put a dollar value on human life. The cases give rise to several objections to the utilitarian logic of seeking the greatest good for the greatest number. Should we always give more weight to the happiness of a majority, even if the majority is cruel or ignoble? Is it possible to sum up and compare all values using a common measure like money? <br>PART TWO: HOW TO MEASURE PLEASURE <br>Sandel introduces J.S. Mill, a utilitarian philosopher who attempts to defend utilitarianism against the objections raised by critics of the doctrine. Mill argues that seeking the greatest good for the greatest number is compatible with protecting individual rights, and that utilitarianism can make room for a distinction between higher and lower pleasures. Mills idea is that the higher pleasure is always the pleasure preferred by a well-informed majority. Sandel tests this theory by playing video clips from three very different forms of entertainment: Shakespeares Hamlet, the reality show Fear Factor, and The Simpsons. Students debate which experience provides the higher pleasure, and whether Mills defense of utilitarianism is successful.
Michael Sandel: HIRED GUNS
55 minutes
MY LIST
PART ONE: HIRED GUNS <br> During the Civil War, men drafted into war had the option of hiring substitutes to fight in their place. Professor Sandel asks students whether they consider this policy just. Many do not, arguing that it is unfair to allow the affluent to avoid serving and risking their lives by paying less privileged citizens to fight in their place. This leads to a classroom debate about war and conscription. Is todays voluntary army open to the same objection? Should military service be allocated by the labor market or by conscription? What role should patriotism play, and what are the obligations of citizenship? Is there a civic duty to serve ones country? And are utilitarians and libertarians able to account for this duty <br>PART TWO: MOTHERHOOD: FOR SALE <br>In this lecture, Professor Sandel examines the principle of free-market exchange in light of the contemporary controversy over reproductive rights. Sandel begins with a humorous discussion of the business of egg and sperm donation. He then describes the case of Baby M—a famous legal battle in the mid-eighties that raised the unsettling question, Who owns a baby? In 1985, a woman named Mary Beth Whitehead signed a contract with a New Jersey couple, agreeing to be a surrogate mother in exchange for a fee of $10,000. However, after giving birth, Ms. Whitehead decided she wanted to keep the child, and the case went to court. Sandel and students debate the nature of informed consent, the morality of selling a human life, and the meaning of maternal rights.
Michael Sandel: THIS LAND IS MY LAND
54 minutes
MY LIST
PART ONE: THIS LAND IS MY LAND <br>The philosopher John Locke believes that individuals have certain rights so fundamental that no government can ever take them away. These rights—to life, liberty and property—were given to us as human beings in the the state of nature, a time before government and laws were created. According to Locke, our natural rights are governed by the law of nature, known by reason, which says that we can neither give them up nor take them away from anyone else. Sandel wraps up the lecture by raising a question: what happens to our natural rights once we enter society and consent to a system of laws? <br>PART TWO: CONSENTING ADULTS <br>If we all have unalienable rights to life, liberty, and property, how can a government enforce tax laws passed by the representatives of a mere majority? Doesnt that amount to taking some peoples property without their consent? Lockes response is that we give our tacit consent to obey the tax laws passed by a majority when we choose to live in a society. Therefore, taxation is legitimate and compatible with individual rights, as long as it applies to everyone and does not arbitrarily single anyone out.
Michael Sandel: MIND YOUR MOTIVE
55 minutes
MY LIST
PART ONE: MIND YOUR MOTIVE <br>Professor Sandel introduces Immanuel Kant, a challenging but influential philosopher. Kant rejects utilitarianism. He argues that each of us has certain fundamental duties and rights that take precedence over maximizing utility. Kant rejects the notion that morality is about calculating consequences. When we act out of duty—doing something simply because it is right—only then do our actions have moral worth. Kant gives the example of a shopkeeper who passes up the chance to shortchange a customer only because his business might suffer if other customers found out. According to Kant, the shopkeepers action has no moral worth, because he did the right thing for the wrong reason. <br>PART TWO: THE SUPREME PRINCIPLE OF MORALITY <br>Immanuel Kant says that insofar as our actions have moral worth, what confers moral worth is our capacity to rise above self-interest and inclination and to act out of duty. Sandel tells the true story of a thirteen-year old boy who won a spelling bee contest, but then admitted to the judges that he had, in fact, misspelled the final word. Using this story and others, Sandel explains Kants test for determining whether an action is morally right: to identify the principle expressed in our action and then ask whether that principle could ever become a universal law that every other human being could act on.
Michael Sandel: WHATS A FAIR START?
55 minutes
MY LIST
ART ONE: WHATS A FAIR START? <br>Is it just to tax the rich to help the poor? John Rawls says we should answer this question by asking what principles you would choose to govern the distribution of income and wealth if you did not know who you were, whether you grew up in privilege or in poverty. Wouldnt you want an equal distribution of wealth, or one that maximally benefits whomever happens to be the least advantaged? After all, that might be you. Rawls argues that even meritocracy—a distributive system that rewards effort—doesnt go far enough in leveling the playing field because those who are naturally gifted will always get ahead. Furthermore, says Rawls, the naturally gifted cant claim much credit because their success often depends on factors as arbitrary as birth order. Sandel makes Rawlss point when he asks the students who were first born in their family to raise their hands. <br>PART TWO: WHAT DO WE DESERVE? <br>Professor Sandel recaps how income, wealth, and opportunities in life should be distributed, according to the three different theories raised so far in class. He summarizes libertarianism, the meritocratic system, and John Rawlss egalitarian theory. Sandel then launches a discussion of the fairness of pay differentials in modern society. He compares the salary of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day OConnor ($200,000) with the salary of televisions Judge Judy ($25 million). Sandel asks, is this fair? According to John Rawls, it is not. Rawls argues that an individuals personal success is often a function of morally arbitrary facts—luck, genes, and family circumstances—for which he or she can claim no credit. Those at the bottom are no less worthy simply because they werent born with the talents a particular society rewards, Rawls argues, and the only just way to deal with societys inequalities is for the naturally advantaged to share their wealth with those less fortunate.
Michael Sandel: A LESSON IN LYING
55 minutes
MY LIST
PART ONE: A LESSON IN LYING <br>Immanuel Kants stringent theory of morality allows for no exceptions. Kant believed that telling a lie, even a white lie, is a violation of ones own dignity. Professor Sandel asks students to test Kants theory with this hypothetical case: if your friend were hiding inside your home, and a person intent on killing your friend came to your door and asked you where he was, would it be wrong to tell a lie? If so, would it be moral to try to mislead the murderer without actually lying? This leads to a discussion of the morality of misleading truths. Sandel wraps up the lecture with a video clip of one of the most famous, recent examples of dodging the truth: President Clinton talking about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. <br>PART TWO: A DEAL IS A DEAL <br>Sandel introduces the modern philosopher John Rawls and his theory of a hypothetical social contract. Rawls argues that principles of justice are the outcome of a special kind of agreement. They are the principles we would all agree to if we had to choose rules for our society and no one had any unfair bargaining power. According to Rawls, the only way to ensure that no one has more power than anyone else is to imagine a scenario where no one knows his or her age, sex, race, intelligence, strength, social position, family wealth, religion, or even his or her goals in life. Rawls calls this hypothetical situation a veil of ignorance. What principles would we agree to behind this veil of ignorance? And would these principles be fair? Professor Sandel explains the idea of a fair agreement with some humorous examples of actual contracts that produce unfair results.
Michael Sandel: ARGUING AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
55 minutes
MY LIST
PART ONE: ARGUING AFFIRMATIVE ACTION <br>Sandel describes the 1996 court case of a white woman named Cheryl Hopwood who was denied admission to a Texas law school, even though she had higher grades and test scores than some of the minority applicants who were admitted. Hopwood took her case to court, arguing the schools affirmative action program violated her rights. Students discuss the pros and cons of affirmative action. Should we try to correct for inequality in educational backgrounds by taking race into consideration? Should we compensate for historical injustices such as slavery and segregation? Is the argument in favor of promoting diversity a valid one? How does it size up against the argument that a students efforts and achievements should carry more weight than factors that are out of his or her control and therefore arbitrary? When a universitys stated mission is to increase diversity, is it a violation of rights to deny a white person admission? <br>PART TWO: WHATS THE PURPOSE? <br>Sandel introduces Aristotle and his theory of justice. Aristotle disagrees with Rawls and Kant. He believes that justice is about giving people their due, what they deserve. When considering matters of distribution, Aristotle argues one must consider the goal, the end, the purpose of what is being distributed. The best flutes, for example, should go to the best flute players. And the highest political offices should go to those with the best judgment and the greatest civic virtue. For Aristotle, justice is a matter of fitting a persons virtues with an appropriate role.
Michael Sandel: THE CLAIMS OF COMMUNITY
55 minutes
MY LIST
PART ONE: THE CLAIMS OF COMMUNITY <br>Professor Sandel presents Kants objections to Aristotles theory. Kant believes politics must respect individual freedom. People must always respect other peoples freedom to make their own choices—a universal duty to humanity—but for Kant, there is no other source of moral obligation. The discussion of Kants view leads to an introduction to the communitarian philosophy. Communitarians argue that, in addition to voluntary and universal duties, we also have obligations of membership, solidarity, and loyalty. These obligations are not necessarily based on consent. We inherit our past, and our identities, from our family, city, or country. But what happens if our obligations to our family or community come into conflict with our universal obligations to humanity? <br>PART TWO: WHERE OUR LOYALTY LIES <br>Professor Sandel leads a discussion about the arguments for and against obligations of solidarity and membership. Do we owe more to our fellow citizens that to citizens of other countries? Is patriotism a virtue, or a prejudice for ones own kind? If our identities are defined by the particular communities we inhabit, what becomes of universal human rights? Using various scenarios, students debate whether or not obligations of loyalty can ever outweigh universal duties of justice.
Michael Sandel: THE GOOD CITIZEN
55 minutes
MY LIST
PART ONE: THE GOOD CITIZEN <br>Aristotle believes the purpose of politics is to promote and cultivate the virtue of its citizens. The telos or goal of the state and political community is the good life. And those citizens who contribute most to the purpose of the community are the ones who should be most rewarded. But how do we know the purpose of a community or a practice? Aristotles theory of justice leads to a contemporary debate about golf. Sandel describes the case of Casey Martin, a disabled golfer, who sued the PGA after it declined his request to use a golf cart on the PGA Tour. The case leads to a debate about the purpose of golf and whether a players ability to walk the course is essential to the game. <br>PART TWO: FREEDOM VS. FIT <br>How does Aristotle address the issue of individual rights and the freedom to choose? If our place in society is determined by where we best fit, doesnt that eliminate personal choice? What if I am best suited to do one kind of work, but I want to do another? In this lecture, Sandel addresses one of the most glaring objections to Aristotles views on freedom—his defense of slavery as a fitting social role for certain human beings. Students discuss other objections to Aristotles theories and debate whether his philosophy overly restricts the freedom of individuals.
Michael Sandel: DEBATING SAME-SEX MARRIAGE
55 minutes
MY LIST
PART ONE: DEBATING SAME-SEX MARRIAGE <br>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? <br>PART TWO: THE GOOD LIFE <br>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 cant 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.