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OU on the BBC: Justice: The Good Life

Updated Tuesday, 15th March 2011

Sometimes, the law cannot be neutral on issues of social debate. Michael Sandel explains why.

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The Eve Of Justice March, San Francisco, March 2009 Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Neither Fanboy under CC-BY licence

In the final episode of Harvard professor Michael Sandel's famous series of lectures on the philosophy of justice, he raises two questions. Is it necessary to reason about the good life in order to decide what rights people have and what is just? And if so, how is it possible to argue about the nature of the good life?

Students explore these questions with a discussion about the relation of law and morality, as played out in public controversies over same-sex marriage and abortion.

Sandel concludes the series by making the point that, in many cases, the law can't be neutral on hard moral questions. Engaging rather than avoiding the moral convictions of our fellow citizens may be the best way of seeking a just society.

This programme can be seen first on BBC Four, Tuesday 15th March, 2011 at 8.30pm. For other broadcast details, and links to iPlayer, visit

Find out more

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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