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OU on the BBC: Justice: Freedom Versus Fit

Updated Tuesday, 8th March 2011

If there's a place for us in society into which we fit best, does that mean we have any choice in what we do?

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Looking for work at a careers fair Creative commons image Icon thecareersgroup under CC-BY-NC-ND licence under Creative-Commons license The seventh of Harvard professor Michael Sandel's famous lectures on the philosophy of justice looks at the issue of individual rights and the freedom to choose. If our place in society is determined by where we best fit, doesn't that eliminate personal choice? What if I am best suited to do one kind of work, but I want to do another? In other words, should a careers fair like the one pictured here be less like a shopping trip, and more a question of being found a slot?

Sandel addresses one of the most glaring objections to Aristotle's views on freedom, his defence of slavery as a fitting social role for certain human beings. Students discuss other objections to Aristotle's theories and debate whether his philosophy overly restricts the freedom of individuals.

This programme can be seen first on BBC Four, Tuesday 8th March, 2011 at 8.30pm. For other broadcast details, and links to iPlayer, visit

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Want to know more about philosophy, ethics and right and wrong? Consider these courses from The Open University:

Justice: A Citizen's Guide





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