Hired Guns; Motherhood: For Sale
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 today’s 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 one’s country? And are utilitarians and libertarians able to account for this duty?
In part two, 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.