Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
3 December 2009updated 27 Sep 2015 2:28am

Michael Sandel — live!

Watch the political philosopher's hot course on justice on the web

By Jonathan Derbyshire

The American political philosopher Michael Sandel, whom I profiled for the NS in June this year, has been teaching Justice, an undergraduate course in moral and political philosophy, at Harvard for nearly 30 years now. It’s wildly popular, having attracted more than 14,000 students over the years. Watching the video footage of his classes recently made available online by Harvard, as part of a collaboration with a local TV station in Boston, it is easy to see why Justice is always oversubscribed.

In a previous life, I taught philosophy at several English universities, and I know how hard it is to animate or enliven the same hoary old problems in ethics and political theory year in, year out. But Sandel manages to make the liberalismcommunitarianism debate, for instance, seem like the most urgent thing in the world — which, in a way, it is, of course. He is a thoroughly compelling and beguiling presence in the lecture theatre. Here, for example, is episode 11 on “The Claims of Community”, in which Sandel deals with “Kant’s reply to Aristotle”:

 

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Content from our partners
The shrinking road to net zero
The tree-planting misconception
Is your business ready for corporate climate reporting?