Harvard course: Justice (Political philosophy)

Michael Sandel (Harvard)If you have around ten hours to spare, you might enjoy this course from Harvard on justice within the framework of political philosophy.

Both important philosophers (Aristotle, Locke, Bentham, Mill, Kant, Rawls, MacIntyre) and their concepts get discussed and illuminated with plenty of examples. Professor Michael Sandel does a great job in these lectures trying to tease out the contradictions, complexities, and problems within the various political theories, as well as the responses and critiques each received from the other philosophers. The interactions with the diverse body of students present at the lectures are worthwhile as well.

Justice is one of the most popular courses in Harvard’s history, having taught more than 14,000 students over the course of two decades.

In this course, Sandel challenges us with difficult moral dilemmas and asks our opinion about the right thing to do. He then asks us to examine our answers in the light of new scenarios. The results are often surprising, revealing that important moral questions are never black and white.

This course also addresses the hot topics of our day—affirmative action, same-sex marriage, patriotism and rights—and Sandel shows us that we can revisit familiar controversies with a fresh perspective.

You can watch it, as it is presented in twelve episodes, via the Harvard Justice site or via Academic Earth.

Watch the trailer/preview to get an idea of the format, topics and discussions:

You can also watch Charlie Rose interview Sandel about his book “Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?” (~52 min.):

Update 20110615: Thomas L. Friedman: Justice Goes Global (NY Times)