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Michael Sandel
Michael J. Sandel (/sænˈdɛl/; born March 5, 1953) is an American political philosopher and a political philosophy professor at Harvard University. His course “Justice” is the first Harvard course to be made freely available online and on television. It has been viewed by tens of millions of people around the world, including in China, where Sandel was named the “most influential foreign figure of the year.” (China Newsweek). He is also known for his critique of John Rawls' A Theory of Justice in his first book, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (1982). He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2002.
THE GOOD CITIZEN
PART ONE: THE GOOD CITIZEN
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.
PART TWO: FREEDOM VS. FIT
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.