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OU on the BBC: Justice: The Good Citizen

Updated Tuesday, 1st March 2011

How can a dispute on the golf course show us how we should think about citizenship? Michael Sandel explains.

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Casey Martin Creative commons image Icon Eric Yaillen/Oregon Golf Association under CC-BY-NC-ND licence under Creative-Commons license The sixth of Michael Sandel's famous lectures on the philosophy of justice looks at the Greek philosopher Aristotle and the rules of golf.

Aristotle believed that the purpose of politics was to promote and cultivate the virtue of a country's citizenry. He argued that those citizens who contribute most to the purpose of the community are the ones who should be most rewarded. But how do we really know the purpose of a community, or a practice?

All this leads to a contemporary debate about golf and the case of Casey Martin, a disabled golfer who sued the PGA after it declined his request to use a golf cart on the PGA Tour.

What really is the purpose of golf and is a player's ability to walk the course essential to the game?

This programme can be seen first on BBC Four, Tuesday 1st March 2011 at 8.30pm. For more transmission details, and to watch on 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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