Putting a Price Tag on Life; How to Measure Pleasure

Recent Episodes

Debating Same-sex Marriage; The Good Life

Debating Same-sex Marriage; The Good Life

Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?

The Season 1 finale focuses on same-sex marriage.

60 min.

The Good Citizen; Freedom vs. Fit

The Good Citizen; Freedom vs. Fit

Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?

Disabled golfer Casey Martin's case against the PGA.

60 min.

Claims of Community; Where Our Loyalty Lies

Claims of Community; Where Our Loyalty Lies

Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?

Kant's belief in a universal duty to humanity.

60 min.

Arguing Affirmative Action; What's the Purpose?

Arguing Affirmative Action; What's the Purpose?

Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?

The pros and cons of affirmative action are debated.

60 min.

What's a Fair Start? What Do We Deserve?

What's a Fair Start? What Do We Deserve?

Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?

Redistributing wealth to help the disadvantaged.

60 min.

A Lesson in Lying; A Deal is a Deal

A Lesson in Lying; A Deal is a Deal

Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?

The morality of lying and misleading truths.

60 min.


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Today, companies and governments often use Jeremy Bentham’s 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, giving rise to several objections.

 

In the second half of the program, 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. Mill’s 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: Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the reality show Fear Factor, and The Simpsons.

The hits and the highlights from WGBH
 

   

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