Friday, January 01, 2010

Justice with Michael Sandel and Jeremy Bentham

source: JusticeHarvard highlights comments: Michael Sandel has lectured on 'Justice' to 15,000 students over 30 years at Harvard Uni.

Part 1 - The Moral Side of Murder: 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? That’s the hypothetical scenario Professor Michael Sandel uses to launch his course on moral reasoning.
Part 2 - The Case for Cannibalism: Sandel introduces the principles of utilitarian philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, with a famous nineteenth century law case involving a shipwrecked crew of four. After nineteen 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.

Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1780)
A brief overview of the reading:  One familiar way to think about the right thing to do is to ask what will produce the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people. This way of thinking about morality finds its clearest expression in the philosophy of Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832). In his Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1780), Bentham argues that the principle of utility should be the basis of morality and law, and by utility he understands whatever promotes pleasure and prevents pain. Is the principle of utility the right guide to all questions of right and wrong?

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