Skip to main content

The lost art of democratic debate - Michael Sandel


5,561 Questions Answered

TED Talk

Let’s Begin…

Democracy thrives on civil debate, Michael Sandel says -- but we're shamefully out of practice. He leads a fun refresher, with TEDsters sparring over a recent Supreme Court case (PGA Tour, Inc. v. Martin) whose outcome reveals the critical ingredient in justice.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

Michael J. Sandel is an American political philosopher and a professor at Harvard University. He is best known for the Harvard course 'Justice', which is available to view online, and for his critique of John Rawls' A Theory of Justice in his first book, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice.Michael Sandel has been teaching the course on Justice at Harvard for the past 30 years that has made him one of the most popular teachers in the world.In Sandel's first book, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice, Sandel writes about how a liberal society seeks not to impose a single way of life but to leave its citizens as free as possible to choose their own values and ends.If principles of justice depend on the moral or intrinsic worth of the ends that rights serve, how should we deal with the fact that people hold different ideas and conceptions of what is good? Students in Michael Sandel's classroom address this question in a heated debate about whether same-sex marriage should be legal.The Greek philosopher Aristotle is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy. Aristotle's writings were the first to create a comprehensive system of Western philosophy, encompassing morality, aesthetics, logic, science, politics, and metaphysics.The Nicomachean Ethics is Aristotle's best known work on ethics. The theme of the work is the Socratic question, which had previously been explored in Plato's works, of how men should best live.In this New York Times article from June 11, 2012, Casey Martin, an American professional golfer, returned to the U.S. Open, with a cart waiting for him. In 1998, Martin was among the most notable participants -- not for his golf but because he had successfully sued golf’s establishment for the right to use a cart in a tournament.Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg in Prussia who researched, lectured and wrote on philosophy and anthropology during the Enlightenment at the end of the 18th century.

Next Section »

About TED Talk Lessons

TED Talk Lessons are created by TED-Ed using phenomenal TED Talks. Do you have an idea for a lesson? Create it now using any video from YouTube »

Meet The Creators

  • Speaker Michael Sandel

More from The Big Questions