Arguing Affirmative Action / What’s the Purpose?

SUN, NOV 8, 2009 (55:01)

Lecture Seventeen: "Arguing Affirmative Action" Students discuss the issue of affirmative action and college admissions. Is it "just" for schools to consider race and ethnicity as a factor in admissions? Does it violate individual rights? Or is it as equal, and as arbitrary, as favoring a star athlete? Is the argument in favor of promoting diversity a valid one? How does it size up against the argument that a student's efforts and achievements should carry more weight?

Lecture Eighteen: "What's the Purpose?" Sandel introduces Aristotle's theory of justice, which, simply put, is giving people what they are due, what they deserve. Aristotle argues that when considering issues of distribution, one must consider the goal, the end, the purpose of what is being distributed. For him, it's a matter of fitting a person's virtues with their appropriate roles.

+ BIO: Michael Sandel

Michael Sandel has been teaching philosophy at Harvard since 1980. He has published six books, on topics including democracy, liberalism, bioethics, and morality in politics. Professor Sandel received his doctorate from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes scholar. His writings have been translated into ten foreign languages and have appeared in The Atlantic, The New Republic, and The New York Times. From 2002 to 2005, he served on the President's Council on Bioethics. He has received three honorary degrees, as well as four fellowships from the Ford Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies. Sandel has delivered lectures throughout North America, Europe, India, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and China.

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