Justice with Michael Sandel

Episode 06 – Justice with Michael Sandel.

I found this site whilst reading the background on Michael Sandel. I subscribe to @philosophybites podcasts on iTunes, and was listening to his discussion on what shouldn’t be sold. I am increasingly concerned with the commodification of education, trying to understand the notion of education as a commodity capable of being bought and sold. This leads me to revisiting Kant, hence the link with justice in this video. Kant claimed that people should

‘ Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end’

It seems that we break the categorical imperative (of which this quotation states the second formulation) when we buy and sell education. Those engaged in education (student/teacher) are treated as mere means to an end, the end being share dividends for the institution and economic units of production for the state.

Professor Sandel introduces Immanuel Kant as a rejection of utilitarianism and an argument for fundamental duties and rights that take precedence over maximizing utility. He explains Kant’s test for determining whether an action is morally right: to identify the principle expressed in our action and then ask whether that principle could ever become a universal law that every other human being could act on.


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