Thursday, June 10, 2010

An Idea for Civic Education

Michael Sandel talks here of how one can raise the standards of political debate, which is key to the performance and sustanance of democracies. He invokes Aristotle, talks about flutes to golf to same-sex marriages, and talks about making available such sessions online, for learners in China, India and elsewhere.


Michael Sandel teaches political philosophy at Harvard. His new book, Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?, explores some of the most hotly contested moral and political issues of our time.

As of fall 2009, some 14,000 Harvard students have taken Michael Sandel’s legendary course, "Justice." His lectures draw a thousand-plus students eager to discuss big questions of modern political life: bioethics, torture, rights versus responsibilities. Sandel's class is a primer on thinking through the hard choices we face as citizens. The course has been turned into a public TV series with companion website and, this past fall, a best-selling book: Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?

"Michael Sandel is one of the world's most interesting political philosophers," the Guardian writes. "Politicians and commentators tend to ask two questions of policy: will it make voters better off, and will it affect their liberty? Sandel rightly points out the shallowness of that debate and adds a third criterion: how will it affect the common good?"

Calling Sandel "one of the most popular teachers in the world," the London Observer explains what makes his voice distinctive: "He sets himself at odds with one of the reigning assumptions of modern public life -- that moral and religious notions are private matters that should be kept out of public political debate."

"The responsibility of political philosophy that tries to engage with practice is to be clear, or at least accessible."
Michael Sandel

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