This Land is My Land / Consenting Adults

SUN, OCT 4, 2009 (54:59)

Lecture Seven: "This Land is My Land" John Locke is both a supporter and detractor from the theory of Libertarianism. Locke argues that in the "state of nature," before any political structure has been established, every human has certain natural rights to life, liberty -- and property. However, once we agree to enter into society, we are consenting to being governed by a system of laws. And so, Locke argues, even though government is charged with looking after one's individual rights, it is the majority that defines those rights.

Lecture Eight: "Consenting Adults" John Locke on the issue of taxation and consent. How does John Locke square away the conflict between 1) his belief that individuals have an unalienable right to life, liberty, and property and 2) that government -- through majority rule -- can tax individuals without their consent? Doesn't that amount to taking an individual's property without his/her consent? Locke's answer to that is that we are giving our "implied consent" to taxation laws, by living in society, therefore taxation is legitimate. And, as long as government doesn't target a particular group for taxation -- if it isn't arbitrary -- then taxation isn't a violation of the fundamental rights of individuals.

+ 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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