Claims of Community; Where Our Loyalty Lies

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

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Disabled golfer Casey Martin's case against the PGA.

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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.

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

Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?

Redistributing wealth to help the disadvantaged.

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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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Professor Sandel presents Kant’s objections to Aristotle’s theory. Kant believes politics must respect individual freedom. People must always respect other people’s 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 Kant’s 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?

In Part 2, 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 one’s 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.

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