The Moral Side of Murder / The Case for Cannibalism
September 13, 2009
Michael Sandel professor, philosophy, Harvard
Lecture One: "The Moral Side of Murder"
If you had to choose between killing one person or five, what would you do? What's the right thing to do? Professor Michael Sandel launches into his lecture series by presenting students with a hypothetical scenario that has the majority of students voting for killing one person in order to save the lives of five others. But then Sandel presents three similar moral conundrums -- each one artfully designed to make the decision increasingly complex. As students stand up to defend their conflicting choices, Sandel's point is made. The assumptions behind our moral reasoning are often contradictory, and the question of what is right and what is wrong is not always black and white.
Lecture Two: "The Case for Cannibalism"
Sandel introduces the principles of Utilitarian philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, with a famous 19th century law case involving a shipwrecked crew of four. After 19 days lost at sea, the captain decides to kill the cabin boy, the weakest amongst them, so they can feed on his blood and body to survive. The case leads to a debate among students about the moral validity of the Utilitarian theory of maximizing overall happiness -- often summed up with the slogan "the greatest good for the greatest number".
what's right thing to do ?