Justice @ Harvard University

What is the right thing to do? We often rely on intuition, experience and norms to make the decision for us. Our ability to cope with dilemmas can be quite efficient in this way. But how do we know that we are really doing the right thing? 

How do we for example justify affirmative action, distribution of goods or setting a value on human life as if often done in pharmacoeconomic evaluations? Or how do we justify the way we live our lives? Should we maximize the common good? Is it our duty to make the most of our talents? And do we morally deserve something for putting in an extra effort?

Over the course of a semester I sought answers to these questions by participating in Michael Sandels graded Harvard University course called Justice.

(Spoiler alert) The course didn’t provide a one size fits principle or maxim, as Kant would call it, that can be used in every given discussion about morality; I don’t believe that would be possible. However, it certainly enabled me to dissect the principles at play in arguments about morality and better understand their consequences for judgements about real cases. And knowing the principles at play and the strengths and weaknesses of those principles I feel much more empowered to make the right decisions and hopefully be a better citizen and leader.

Michael Sandel has published an excellent book called Justice based on his course.

Many of his lectures are available on YouTube.

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