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JUSTICE with Michael Sandel
Arguing Affirmative Action
Last time, we were discussing the distinction,
that Rawls draws between two different types of claims.
Claims of moral desert on the one hand,
and of entitlement to legitimate expectations on the other.
Rawls argued that it's a mistake to think that
distributive justice is a matter of moral desert.
A matter of rewarding people according to their virtue.
Today we're going to explore that question
of moral desert and its relation to distributive justice.
Not in connection with incoming wealth,
but in its connection with opportunities.
With hiring decisions and admission standards.
And so we turn to the case, of affirmative action.
You read about the case of Cheryl Hopwood.
She applied for admission to the University of Texas Law School.
Cheryl Hopwood had worked her way through high school,
she didn't come from an affluent family,
she put herself through community college,
and California State University at Sacramento.
She achieved a 3.8 grade point average there,
later moved to Texas, became a resident,
took the law school admissions test,
did pretty well on that,
and she applied to the University of Texas Law School.
She was turned down.
She was turned down at a time when the University of Texas,
was using an affirmative action admissions policy.
A policy that took into account,
race and ethnic background.
The University of Texas said, "40 percent of the population of Texas
is made up of African Americans and Mexican Americans.
It's important that we, as a law school, have a diverse student body.
And so we are going to take into account,
not only grades and test scores,
but also the demographic makeup of our class including, its race and ethnic profile."
The result, and this is what Hopwood complained about,
the result of that policy,
is that some applicants to the University of Texas Law School,
with a lower academic index,
which includes grades and test scores,
than hers, were admitted.
And she was turned down.
She said, she argued, "I'm just being turned down because I'm white.
If I weren't, if I were a member of a minority group,
with my grades and test scores I would had been admitted."
And the statistics, the admissions statistics that came out in the trial,
confirmed that African American and Mexican American applicants that year,
who had, her grades and test scores, were admitted.
It went to Federal Court.
Now, put aside the law,
let's consider it from the standpoint of justice and morality.
Is it fair, or it unfair?
Does Cheryl Hopwood have a case?
A legitimate complaint?
Were her rights violated, by the admissions policy of the law school?
How many say, how many would rule for the law school,
and say that it was just to consider race and ethnicity as a factor in admissions?
How many would rule for Cheryl Hopwood
and say "her rights were violated?"
So here we have a pretty even split.
Alright, now I want to hear from a defender of Cheryl Hopwood. Yes?
You're basing something that's an arbitrary factor,
you know, Cheryl couldn't control the fact that she was white,
or not in a minority.
And therefore, you know, it's not as if it was like a test score that she worked hard
to try and show that she could, you know, put that out there,
you know, that she had no control over her race.
Good. And what're your name? - Bree.
Okay. Bree, stay right there.
Now let's find someone who has an answer for Bree.
Yes? - There are discrepancies in the educational system.
And the majority of the time, I know this in New York City,
the schools that minorities go to, are not as well-funded,
are not as well-supplied, as white schools.
And so there is going to be a discrepancy,
naturally, between minorities and between whites.
If they go to better schools.
And they will not do as well on exams because they haven't had as much help.
Because of the worst school systems.
Let me just interrupt you to, tell me your name?
Aneesha. - Aneesha. Aneesha, you're pointing out
that minority kids may have gone in some cases
to schools that didn't give them the same educational opportunity as kids from
affluent families. - Yes.
And so the test scores they got,
may actually not represent their true potential.
Because they didn't receive the same kind of help
that they might have received had they gone to a school with better funding.
Good, alright. Aneesha has raised the point
that colleges still should choose for the greatest academic scholarly promise
but in reading the test scores and grades,
they should take into account the different meaning
those tests and grades have,
in the light of educational disadvantage in the background.
So that's one argument in defense of affirmative action, Aneesha's argument.
Correcting for the effects of unequal preparation.
Educational disadvantage.
Now, there are other arguments.
Suppose, just to identify whether there is a competing principle here.
Suppose there are two candidates,
who did equally well on the tests and grades.
Both of whom went to first rate schools.
Two candidates, among those candidates,
would it be unfair for the college or university, for Harvard, to say,
"we still want diversity along racial and ethnic dimensions,
even where we are not correcting for the effects
on test scores of educational disadvantage."
What about in that case, Bree?
If it's that's one thing that puts, you know someone over the edge,
then it's, I guess that would be, you know, justifiable.
If everything else about the individual first, though,
everything to consider about that person's you know, talents,
and where they come from, and who they are without these arbitrary factors, is the same.
Without these 'arbitrary factors', you call them.
But before you were suggesting, Bree, that race and ethnicity are arbitrary factors
outside the control of the applicants. - True, I would agree with that.
And your general principle is that admissions shouldn't reward arbitrary factors,
over which people have no control. - Right.
Alright. Who else, who else would like to, thank you both.
Who else would like to get into this, what do you say?
Well, first of all, I'm for affirmative action temporarily,
but, for two reasons.
First of all, you have to look at the university's purpose.
It is to educate their students.
And I feel that different races, people coming from different races have
different backgrounds and they contribute differently to the education.
And second of all, when you say that they have equal backgrounds,
that's not true when you look at the broader picture,
and you look at slavery and this is kind of a reparation.
I think affirmative action is a temporary solution to alleviate history,
and the wrongs done to African Americans in particular.
And what's your name?
David. - David. You say that affirmative action
is justified at least for now as a way of compensating for past injustice.
The legacy of slavery and segregation. - Right.
Who wants to take on that argument?
We need now a critic of affirmative action.
Yes, go ahead.
I think that what happened in the past has no bearing on what happens today.
I think that discriminating based on race should always be wrong.
Whether you're discriminating against one group or another.
Just because our ancestors did something,
doesn't mean that that should have any effect on what happens with us today.
Alright, good. I'm sorry, your name is? - Kate.
Kate. Alright, who has an answer for Kate?
Yes. - I just wanted to comment
and say that, - Tell us your name.
My name is Mansur. Because of slavery, because of past injustices today,
we have a higher proportion of African Americans who are in poverty,
who face less opportunities than white people.
So because of slavery 200 years ago,
and because of Jim Crow, and because of segregation,
today we have injustice based on race.
Kate? - I think that there are differences,
obviously, but the way to fix those differences is not by some artificial fixing
of the result.
You need to fix the problem.
So we need to address differences in education,
and differences in upbringing with programs like Head Start,
and giving more funding to lower income schools
rather than just trying to fix the result,
so it makes it look like it's equal when it's really it isn't.
Well, with regard to affirmative action based on race,
I just want to say that white people have had their own affirmative action
in this country for more than 400 years.
It's called 'nepotism' and 'quid pro quo'.
So there's nothing wrong with correcting the injustice and discrimination
that's been done to black people for 400 years.
Good. Tell us your name. - Hannah.
Hannah. Alright who has an answer for Hannah?
And just to add to Hannah's point,
because we need now someone to respond,
Hannah, you could have also mentioned legacy admissions.
Exactly. I was going to say,
if you disagree with affirmative action,
you should disagree with legacy admission because
it's obvious from looking around here that there are more white legacies
than black legacies in the history of Harvard University.
And explain what legacy admissions are.
Well, legacy admissions is giving an advantage to someone
who has an arbitrary privilege of their parent having attended the university
to which they're applying.
Alright, so a reply for Hannah.
Yes, in the balcony, go ahead.
First of all, if affirmative action is making up for past injustice,
how do you explain minorities that were not historically discriminated against
in the United States who get these advantages?
In addition, you could argue that affirmative action perpetuates
divisions between the races rather than achieve the ultimate goal
of race being an irrelevant factor in our society.
And what, tell us your name.
Danielle. - Hannah.
I disagree with that because I think that by promoting diversity
in an institution like this,
you further educate all of the students, especially the white students
who grew up in predominately white areas.
It's certainly a form of education to be exposed to people from different backgrounds.
And you put white students at an inherent disadvantage when you surround them
only with their own kind.
Why should race necessarily be equated with diversity?
There are so many other forms, why should we assume
that race makes people different?
Again, that's perpetuating the idea of racial division within our universities
and our society. - Hannah?
With regard to African American people
being given a special advantage,
it's obvious that they bring something special to the table,
because they have a unique perspective
just as someone from a different religion or socio-economic background would, as well.
As you say, there are many different types of diversity.
There's no reason that racial diversity should be eliminated from that criteria.
Yes, go ahead.
Racial discrimination is illegal in this country,
and I believe that it was African American leaders themselves,
when Martin Luther King said he wanted to be judged not on the color of skin,
but by the content of his character, his merit, his achievements.
And I just think that, to decide solely based on someone's race
is just inherently unfair.
I mean, if you want to correct based on disadvantaged backgrounds,
that's fine, but there are also disadvantaged white people as well.
It shouldn't matter if you're white or black. - Tell us your name.
Ted. - Ted, - Yes. - Think of Hopwood.
It's unfair to count race or, I assume you would also say, ethnicity or religion?
Yes. - Do you think she has a right to be considered
according to her grades and test scores alone?
No. There is more to it than that.
Universities need to promote diversity.
So you agree with the goal of promoting diversity?
There's ways to promote diversity besides discriminating against people solely
based on a factor they cannot control.
Alright, so what makes it wrong,
is that she can't control her race.
She can't control the fact that she's white.
That's the heart of the unfairness to her.
Bree made a similar point.
That basing admissions on factors that people can't control,
is fundamentally unfair. What do you say?
There's a lot of things you can't control,
and if you don't for it based on merit,
like just based on your test scores,
a lot of what you can achieve has to do with family background,
that you were raised in.
If both of your parents were scholarly,
then you have more of chance of actually
of being more scholarly yourself and getting those grades.
And you can't control what kind of family you were born into.
Alright good, that's a great rejoinder, what's your name?
Da. - Da.
Ted, are you against advantages that come from the family you were born into?
What about legacy admissions?
I do believe that in terms of a legacy admission
you shouldn't have a special preference,
I mean there is a legacy admission you could argue is another part,
versus you could day it's important to have a small percentage
of people that have a several generation family attendance at a place like Harvard.
However that should not be an advantage factor like race,
it should just be another part promoting diversity.
Should it count at all?
I think that, - Alumni status, should it count at all, Ted?
Yes. It should count.
Alright, I want to step back for a moment from these arguments.
Thank you all for these contributions.
We're going to come back to you.
If you've listened carefully I think you will have noticed
three different arguments emerge from this discussion.
In defense of considering race and ethnicity
as a factor in admissions.
One argument has to do with correcting for the effects,
for the effects of educational disadvantage.
That was Aneesha's argument.
This is what we might call the corrective argument.
Correcting for differences in educational background,
the kind of school people went to.
The opportunities they had and so on.
That's one argument.
What's worth noticing though, is that argument is consistent
in principle with the idea
that only academic promise and scholarly potential should count in admissions.
We just need to go beyond test scores and grades alone,
to get a true estimate
of academic promise and scholarly ability.
That's the first argument.
Then we heard a second argument that said
affirmative action is justified even where there may not be
the need to correct for educational disadvantage
in a particular applicant's case.
It's justified as a way of compensating for past wrongs,
for historic injustices.
So that's a compensatory argument.
Compensating for past wrongs.
Then we heard, a third, a different argument,
for affirmative action, from Hannah and others,
that argued in the name of diversity.
Now, the diversity argument is different from the compensatory argument,
because it makes a certain appeal to the social purpose
or the social mission of the college or university.
There are really two aspects to the diversity argument.
One says it's important to have a diverse student body for the sake of
the educational experience for everyone.
Hannah made that point.
And the other talks about the wider society.
This was the argument made by the University of Texas in the Hopwood case.
We need to train lawyers and judges and leaders,
public officials who will contribute to the strength,
the civic strength of the state of Texas, and the country as a whole.
So there are two different aspects to the diversity argument.
But both are arguments in the name of the social purpose,
or the social mission or the common good,
served by the institution.
Well, what about the force of these arguments?
We've also heard objections to these arguments.
The most powerful objection to the compensatory argument is,
is it fair to ask Cheryl Hopwood today,
to make the sacrifice, to pay the compensation
for an injustice that was admittedly committed and egregious,
in the past, but in which she was not implicated.
Is that fair?
So that's an important objection
to the compensatory argument.
And in order to meet that objection,
we would have to investigate whether there is such a thing
as group rights or collective responsibility
that reaches over time.
So having identified that issue,
let's set it aside to turn to the diversity argument.
The diversity argument doesn't have to worry about that question.
About collective responsibility for past wrongs.
Because it says, for reasons Hannah and others pointed out,
that the common good is served,
is advanced if there is a racially and ethnically diverse student body.
Everyone benefits.
This indeed was the argument that Harvard made
when it filed a friend of the court brief to the Supreme Court in the 1978 case,
the affirmative action case, the Bakke case.
In the Harvard brief, the Harvard rationale,
was cited by Justice Powell,
who was the swing vote in the case upholding affirmative action,
he cited that as providing the rationale that he thought
was constitutionally acceptable.
Harvard's argument in its brief, was this:
"We care about diversity. Scholarly excellence alone, has never been
the criterion of admission, the sole criterion of admission to Harvard College.
Fifteen years ago diversity meant students from California and New York,
and Massachusetts. City dwellers, and farm boys.
Violinists, painters and football players.
Biologists, historians and classicists.
The only difference now,
Harvard argued, is that we're adding racial and ethnic status to this long list
of diversity considerations.
When reviewing the large number of candidates able to do well in our classes,"
Harvard wrote, "Race may count as a plus, just as coming from Iowa may count
or being a good middle linebacker or pianist.
A farm boy from Idaho can bring something to Harvard College
that a Bostonian cannot offer.
Similarly, a black student can usually bring something a white student cannot offer.
The quality of the educational experience of all students
depends in part on these differences
in the background and outlook that students bring with them."
That was Harvard's argument.
Now what about the diversity argument?
Is it persuasive?
If it's to be persuasive, it has to meet one very powerful objection.
That we've heard voiced here.
By Ted, by Bree.
Unless you're a utilitarian, you believe that individual rights can't be violated.
And so the question is,
is there an individual right that is violated?
Is Cheryl Hopwood's right violated?
If she is used, so to speak, denied admission,
for the sake of the common good and the social mission
that the University of Texas Law School has defined for itself,
does she have a right?
Don't we deserve to be considered
according to our excellences, our achievements,
our accomplishments, our hard work?
Isn't that the right at stake?
Now we've already heard an answer to that argument.
No, she doesn't have the right.
Nobody deserves to be admitted.
Notice how this gets us back to the issue of desert versus entitlement.
They're arguing there is no individual right that Hopwood has.
She doesn't deserve to be admitted according to any particular set of criteria that
she believes to be important.
Including criteria that have only to do with her efforts and achievements.
Why not?
I think implicit, in this argument,
is something like Rawls' rejection of moral desert as the basis of distributive justice.
Yes, once Harvard defines its mission
and designs its admission policy in the light of its mission,
people are entitled, who fit those criteria,
they are entitled to be admitted.
But according to this argument,
no one deserves that Harvard college define its mission
and design its admission criteria in the first place,
in a way that prizes the qualities they happen to have in abundance.
Whether those qualities are test scores or grades
or the ability to play the piano,
or to be a good middle linebacker,
or to come from Iowa,
or to come from a certain minority group.
So you see how this debate about affirmative action,
especially the diversity argument,
takes us back to the question of rights,
which in turn takes us back to the question of whether moral desert
is or is not the basis for distributive justice.
Think about that over the weekend and we'll continue this discussion next time.
Suppose we're distributing flutes.
Who should get the best ones?
What's Aristotle's answer? Anyone?
His answer is, the best flutes should go to the best flute players,
because that's what flutes are for.
When we ended last time,
we were considering arguments for and against affirmative action.
Counting race as a factor in admissions.
And, in the course of the discussion,
three arguments emerged,
three arguments for affirmative action.
One of them was the idea that race and ethnic background should count
as a way of correcting for the true meaning of test scores and grades.
Getting a more accurate measure of the academic potential
those scores, those numbers represent.
Second, was what we called "the compensatory argument".
The idea of righting past wrongs, past injustice.
And the third was the diversity argument.
And when Cheryl Hopwood in the 1990s challenged
the University of Texas Law School's affirmative action program,
in the federal courts, the University of Texas
made another version of the diversity argument.
Saying that the broader social purpose, the social mission of the University of Texas
Law School, is to produce leaders, in the legal community,
in the political community, among judges, lawyers, legislators,
and therefore it's important that we produce leaders,
who reflect the background, and the experience,
and the ethnic and the racial composition of the state of Texas.
It's important for serving our wider social mission.
That was the University of Texas Law School's argument.
And then we considered an objection
to the diversity argument which after all is an argument in the name of
the social mission, the common good.
We saw that Rawls does not simply believe
that arguments of the common good or the general welfare should prevail
if individual rights must be violated in the course of promoting the common good.
You remember that was the question, the challenge,
to the diversity rationale that we were considering
when we finished last time.
And we began to discuss the question "Well, what right might be at stake"?
Maybe the right to be considered according to factors within one's control.
Maybe this is the argument that Cheryl Hopwood implicitly was making.
She can't help the fact that she is white.
Why should her chance at getting into law school
depend on a factor she can't control?
And then Hannah who is advancing an argument last time
said Harvard has the right to define its mission
any way it wants to, it's a private institution.
And it's only once Harvard defines its mission
that we can identify the qualities that count.
So no rights are being violated.
Now, what about that argument?
What I would like to do is to hear objections to that reply.
And then, see whether others have an answer.
Yes? And tell us your name.
Da. - Da, right you spoke up last time.
How do you answer that argument?
Well, I think there was two things in there.
One of them was that a private institution could define its mission however it wants.
But that doesn't make however it defines it, right, like I could define my personal
mission as I want to collect all the money in the world.
But does that make it even a good mission?
So you can't like, you can't say that just because a college is a private institution it
can just define it as whatever it wants,
you still have to thing about, what are the way it's defining it, it's right.
And the case of affirmative action a lot of people have said that
since there's a lot of other factors involved,
why not race?
Like if we already know that, - Let's I want to stick with your first
point, Da. - Okay.
Here's Da's objection.
Can a college or university define its social purpose any way it wants to
and define admissions criteria accordingly?
What about the University of Texas Law School
not today, but in the 1950s?
Then, there was another Supreme Court case,
against the admissions policy of the University of Texas Law School
because it was segregated.
It only admitted whites.
And when the case went to court back in the '50s,
the University of Texas Law School also invoked its mission.
"Our mission as a law school,
is to educate lawyers for the Texas bar, the Texas law firms.
And no Texas law firm hires African Americans.
So to fulfill our mission,
we only admit whites."
Or consider Harvard,
in the 1930s
when it had anti-Jewish quotas.
President Lowell, the president of Harvard in the 1930s said,
that he had nothing personally against Jews,
but he invoked the mission, the social purpose of Harvard he said,
"which is not only to train intellectuals,
part of the mission at Harvard," he said, "is to train stockbrokers for Wall Street,
presidents and senators and there are very few Jews who go into those professions."
Now, here's the challenge.
Is there a principle distinction
between the invocation of the social purpose
of the college or university today,
in the diversity rationale
and the invocation of the social purpose or mission
of the university by Texas in the 1950s
or Harvard in the 1930s?
Is there a difference in principle?
What's the reply?
Hannah? - Well, I think that the principle that's
different here, is, basically the distinction between inclusion versus exclusion.
I think that it's morally wrong of the university to
say "We're going to exclude you on the basis of your religion or your race."
That's denial on the basis of arbitrary factors.
What Harvard is trying to do today with its diversity initiatives,
is to include groups that were excluded in the past.
Good, let's see if, stay there, let's see if someone would like to reply.
Go ahead. - Actually this is kind of in support of Hannah,
rather than a reply but, - That's alright.
I was going to say another principle difference
can be based on malice being the motivation for the historical
segregation act, so it's saying that we're not going to let blacks or Jews in because
they're worse as people or as a group.
Good, so the element of malice isn't present.
And what's your name? - Stevie.
Stevie says that in the historic segregation as racist, anti-Semitic quotas
or prohibitions.
There was built into them,
a certain kind of malice, a certain kind of judgment
that African Americans or Jews were somehow less worthy than everybody else.
Whereas present day affirmative action programs
don't involve or imply any such judgment.
What it amounts to saying is, so long as the policy,
just uses people in a way as valuable to the social purpose
of the institution, it's okay provided it doesn't judge them,
maliciously, as Stevie might add,
as intrinsically less worthy.
I'd like to raise a question.
Doesn't that concede that all of us
when we compete for positions or for seats in colleges and universities
in a way are being used, not judged,
but used, in a way that has nothing to do with moral desert.
Remember we got into this whole discussion of affirmative action
when we were trying to figure out
whether distributive justice should be tied to moral desert or not.
And we were launched on that question
by Rawls and his denial,
his rejection of the idea that distributive justice
whether its positions or places in the class or income and wealth
is a matter of moral desert.
Suppose that were the moral basis of Harvard's admissions policy,
what letters would they have to write
to people they rejected or accepted for that matter?
Wouldn't they have to write something like this:
"Dear unsuccessful applicant,
we regret to inform you that your application for admission
has been rejected.
It's not your fault that when you came along
society happened not to need the qualities you had to offer.
Those admitted instead of you are not themselves
deserving of a place nor worthy of a praise for the factors that led their admission.
We are in any case only using them and you as instruments of a wider social purpose.
Better luck next time."
What was the letter you actually got
when you were admitted?
Perhaps it should have read something like this:
"Dear successful applicant,
we are pleased to inform you that your application for admission has been accepted.
It turns out, lucky for you,
that you have the traits that society needs at the moment,
so we propose to exploit your assets
for society's advantage.
You are to be congratulated.
Not in the sense that you deserve credit for having the qualities
that led to your admission,
but only in a sense that the winner of a lottery
is to be congratulated.
And if you choose to accept our offer,
you will ultimately be entitled to the benefits that attach
to being used in this way.
We look forward to seeing you in the fall."
Now, there is something a little odd,
morally odd,
if it's true that those letters do reflect
the theory, the philosophy
underlying the policy.
So here's the question they pose.
And it's a question that takes us back to a big issue in political philosophy.
Is it possible, and is it desirable,
to detach questions of distributive justice
from questions of moral desert
and questions of virtue?
In many ways,
this is an issue that separates modern political philosophy from
ancient political thought.
What's at stake in the question of whether we can put desert, moral desert aside?
It seemed when we were reading Rawls,
that the incentive, the reason he had,
for detaching distributive justice from moral desert
was an egalitarian one.
That if we set desert to one side,
there's greater scope for the exercise of egalitarian considerations.
The veil of ignorance.
The two principles, the difference principle,
helping the least well off, redistribution and all that.
But what's interesting, is if you look,
at a range of thinkers we've been considering,
there does seem to be a reason they want to detach justice from desert
that goes well beyond any concern for equality.
Libertarian rights oriented theorists,
the kind we've been studying, as well as egalitarian rights oriented theorists,
including Rawls, and for that matter, also including Kant,
all agree, despite their disagreements over distributive justice,
and the welfare state and all of that,
they all agree that justice is not a matter of rewarding or honoring
virtue or moral desert.
Now why do they all think that?
It can't just be for egalitarian reasons
not all of them are egalitarians.
This gets us to the big philosophical question we have to try to sort out.
Somehow they think tying justice to moral merit or virtue
is going to lead away from freedom,
from respect for persons as free beings.
Well, in order to see what they consider to be at stake,
and in order to assess their shared assumption,
we need to turn to a thinker, to a philosopher,
who disagrees with them.
Who explicitly ties justice to honor, honoring virtue,
and merit and moral desert.
And that thinker is Aristotle.
Now, in many ways Aristotle's idea of justice
is intuitively very powerful.
In some ways it's strange.
I want to bring out both its power, its plausibility and its strangeness,
so that we can see what's at stake in this whole debate about
justice and whether it's tied to desert and virtue.
So, what is Aristotle's answer to the question about justice?
For Aristotle, justice is a matter of giving people what they deserve,
giving people their due.
It's a matter of figuring out the proper fit
between persons, with their virtues,
and their appropriate social roles.
Well, what does this picture of justice look like,
and how does it differ from the conception that seems to be shared among
libertarian and egalitarian rights oriented theorists alike?
Justice means giving each person
his or her due, giving people what they deserve.
But what is a person's due?
What are the relevant grounds of merit or desert?
Aristotle says that depends on the sort of things being distributed.
"Justice involves two factors: Things and the persons
to whom the things are assigned.
In general we say," Aristotle writes, "That persons who are equal
should have equal things assigned to them."
But here there arises a hard question.
Equals in what respects?
Aristotle says that depends on the sort of thing we're distributing.
Suppose we're distributing flutes.
What is the relevant merit or basis of desert for flutes?
Who should get the best ones?
What's Aristotle's answer?
The best flute players, right.
Those who are best in the relevant sense,
the best flute players.
Is it just to discriminate in allocating flutes? Yes.
All justice involves discrimination, Aristotle says.
What matters is that the discrimination be according to the relevant
excellence, according to the virtue
appropriate to having flutes.
He says it would be unjust to discriminate on some other basis.
In giving out the flutes, to, say, wealth.
Just giving the best flutes to the people who can pay the highest price,
or nobility of birth, just giving flutes to aristocrats,
or physical beauty, giving the best flutes to the most handsome,
or chance, having a lottery.
Aristotle says birth and beauty may be greater
goods than the ability to play the flute,
and those who possess them may surpass the flute player more in these qualities
than he surpasses them in his flute playing.
But the fact remains that he is the person who ought to get the best flute.
It's a strange idea this comparison, by the way,
that could you say, "Am I more handsome
than she is a good lacrosse player?"
That's a strange kind of comparison.
But putting that aside,
Aristotle says, we're not looking for the best overall whatever that might mean.
We're looking for the best musician.
Now, why this is important to see.
Why, should the best flutes go to the best flute players?
Well, why do you think?
What? They'll produce the best music.
Well, and everybody will enjoy it more.
That's not Aristotle's answer.
Aristotle is not a utilitarian.
He's not just saying, that way there'll be better music and everyone will enjoy it,
everyone will be better off.
His answer is the best flutes should go to the best flute players
because that's what flutes are for.
To be played well.
The purpose of flute playing, the purpose,
is to produce excellent music.
And those who can best perfect that purpose,
ought properly to have the best ones.
Now, it may also be true,
as a welcome side effect.
That everyone will enjoy listening to that music.
So that answer is true enough as far as it goes,
but it's important to see that Aristotle's
reason is not a utilitarian reason.
It's a reason that looks,
here's where you might think it's a little bit strange,
it looks to the purpose, the point, the goal, of flute playing.
Another way of describing this,
looking to the goal to determine
the just allocation,
the Greek for goal or end, was 'telos'.
So Aristotle says, you have to consider the point, the end, the goal,
the telos of the thing in this case of flute playing.
And that's how you define a just allocation.
A just discrimination.
So this idea of reasoning from the goal,
from the telos, is called "teleological reasoning".
Teleological moral reasoning.
And that's Aristotle's way.
Reasoning from the goal, from the end.
Now, this may seem, as I said a strange idea,
that we're supposed to reason from the purpose,
but it is, does have a certain intuitive plausibility.
Consider the allocation, let's say, at Harvard, of the best tennis courts
or squash courts.
How should they be allocated? Who should have priority in playing
on the best courts?
Well, you might say,
"Those who can best afford them."
Set up a fee system, charge money for them.
Aristotle would say "No".
You might say,
"Well, Harvard big shots, the most influential people at Harvard,
who would they be"?
The senior faculty should have priority
in playing on the best tennis courts.
No, Aristotle would reject that.
Some scientist may be a greater scientist than some Varsity tennis player
is a tennis player, but still the tennis player is the one
who should have priority for playing in the best tennis court.
There is a certain intuitive plausibility to this idea.
Now, one of the things that makes it strange
is that in Aristotle's world, in the ancient world,
it wasn't only social practices
that were governed, in Aristotle's view,
by teleological reasoning and teleological explanation.
All of nature
was understood to be a meaningful order
and what it meant to understand nature,
to grasp nature, to find our place in nature,
was to inquire into and read out the purposes or the telos,
of nature.
And with the advent of modern science, it's been difficult to think of the world that way
and so it makes it harder perhaps to think of justice in a teleological way,
but there is a certain naturalness
to thinking about even the natural world,
as teleologically ordered as a purpose of whole.
In fact, children have to be educated out of this way
of looking at the world.
I realized this when my kids were very young
and I was reading them a book, Winnie the Poo.
And Winnie the Poo gives you a great idea of how
there is a certain, natural, childlike way of looking at the world
in a teleological way.
You may remember a story
of Winnie-the-Poo walking in the forest one day,
"He came to a place in the forest,
and from the top of the tree there came a loud buzzing-noise.
Winnie-the-Poo sat at the foot of a tree, put his head between his paws,
and began to think."
Here's what he said to himself, " 'That buzzing-noise means something.
You don't get a buzzing-noise like that just buzzing and buzzing
without its meaning something.
If there's a buzzing-noise,
somebody's making a buzzing-noise.
And the only reason for making a buzzing-noise that I know of,
is because you're a bee.'
Then he thought for another long time and said,
'And the only reason for being a bee that I know of,
is making honey.'
And then he got up,
and he said, 'And the only reason for making honey,
is so I can eat it.' So he began to climb the tree."
This is an example of teleological reasoning.
It isn't so implausible after all.
Now, we grew up, and we're talked out of this way
of thinking about the world.
But here's the question,
even if teleological explanations don't fit with modern science,
even if we've outgrown them
in understanding nature,
isn't there something still intuitively,
and morally plausible, even powerful,
about Aristotle's idea that the only way to think about justice
is to reason from the purpose, the goal, the telos,
of the social practice?
And isn't that precisely what we were doing when we were disagreeing about
affirmative action?
You can almost recast that disagreement
as one about what the proper appropriate purpose, or end
of a university education consists in.
Reasoning from the purpose or from the telos.
Or from the end.
Aristotle says that's indispensable to thinking about justice.
Is he right?
Think about that question as you turn to Aristotle's politics.
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Michael Sandel:Justice What's The Right Thing To Do Episode 09 ARGUING AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

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ethern 2014 年 4 月 27 日 に公開
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