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TED The lost art of democratic debate - Michael Sandel (2010)

  • Aristotle - Justice is giving people what they deserve. Then we argue about who deserves. The flute should go to the best flute player. What was the thing meant to do? A flute was built to produce great music. The qualities that are worth recognising and honoring the deservee.
  • Contemporary - Golfcart, and a man who is disabled, can't walk well. Pro (golfer says give him the cart) - its not part of the game. Con (non golfer says don't give it to him) - stamina counts. Courts decided to give cart because it's about hitting the ball, but one of them said no... you can't determine the nature of golf - because the nature of golf is amusement, fun, not productive activity. Are rules arbitrary, or are they there to bring out the finesses of the game? What about fairness? Obvious solution. Let everyone ride in a cart. But the real problem of the golfcart was What abilities are worthy of recognition and honor? Golfers are sensitive about the athletic status of their game.... You have to grapple with the nature of the activity and what is worthy of recognition.
  • Same sex marriage - State recognition man/woman (asks TED), same sex (TED approves). Nature of marriage - procreation, others say commitment. Very hard to argue about justice, before asking what qualities are worthy of recognition.
  • Elevation of political discourse - engaging with moral bits causes problems, so leave it alone. But discourse causes mutual respect. Bring moral conviction back into the discourse. 
  • Future of discourse - classroom should not be the only place where discourse happens, grownups can do it too. Civic education for a richer democratic debate. Multicultural debates online engaging with big moral questions - video conferencing with students from around the world.


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