Christian Ethics

Lesson 11: Aristotle’s Justice (Sandel, Chapter 8)

Lesson 11: Aristotle’s Justice (Sandel, Chapter 8)

Aristotle believed humans are political creatures by nature. He thinks this is apparent when we see how our speech enables us to relate to one another quite differently than beasts or gods. Politics not only gathers us into communities for defense against foreign powers, but also for using rational speech rather than physical violence to […]

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Lesson 10: Is Affirmative Action Fair? <br />(Sandel, Chapter  7)

Lesson 10: Is Affirmative Action Fair?
(Sandel, Chapter 7)

Rawls acknowledges after we establish a fair situation, it immediately is lost as factors such as birth, education, talent, skill, and situation come into play. The question becomes whether we simply accept this or seek some compensation for the weak. For example, are affirmative action programs a form of justice? Is promoting equality by giving […]

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Lesson 9:  John Rawls– Equality for All (Sandel, Chapter 6)

Lesson 9: John Rawls– Equality for All (Sandel, Chapter 6)

We’re looking at how we find the moral principles to determine what is right, just, and good. Kant believed we could this with human reason alone. Theoretically, every rational individual will come up with duties natural to all people. John Rawls, probably the most distinguished writer on justice in recent time, sees the same limitations […]

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Lesson 8:  Kant: Absolute Law (Sandel, Chapter 5)

Lesson 8: Kant: Absolute Law (Sandel, Chapter 5)

If the first question in ethics is whether there is justice or right written into all things out there, the second is how do we know what that is. So far Sandel has tried to show utilitarianism, libertarianism, and the free market are helpful as guidelines, but their advocates ultimately rely on other principles and […]

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Lesson 7: What is the Free Market?<br />  (Sandel, Chapter 4)

Lesson 7: What is the Free Market?
(Sandel, Chapter 4)

As I read Sandel, I constantly ask myself, “What is the free market?” Almost all his examples and arguments assume it is lurking in the shadowy background to make sure its role is considered. Yet although Sandel continually refers to it, he never really defines what the free market is. What is the free market? […]

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Lesson 6: The Free Market and Paying for Pregnancy (Sandel, Chapter 4)

Lesson 6: The Free Market and Paying for Pregnancy (Sandel, Chapter 4)

Sandel’s second test of the approaches he has examined so far concerns paying someone else to carry your baby. He begins with the Mary Beth Whitehead case in which a couple makes a contract for someone else to bear their child. When the mother reneges on the contract, the courts have a tough time deciding […]

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Lesson 5: The Free Market and Volunteer Army  (Sandel, Chapter 4)

Lesson 5: The Free Market and Volunteer Army (Sandel, Chapter 4)

The big question in modern ethics is agreeing on what is just in a pluralistic, often democratic world. How do we determine the right thing to do, if we all do not accept the authority of a king, a god, or some common values? The modern answer is often to turn in default to the […]

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Lesson 4: Libertarianism

Lesson 4: Libertarianism

Traditionally those doing ethics began with principles and then dealt with exceptions. They might declare “no abortion” and then cite exceptions, such as rape, age, and danger to the health of the woman. We have problems today, such as governmental gridlock, when we believe acting on principle prohibits any exceptions. Utilitarians and libertarians generally avoid […]

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Lesson 3: Utilitarianism

Lesson 3: Utilitarianism

Sandel first takes a look at utilitarianism, the way our modern society usually does ethics. (See Chapter 2 of his book.) In the past we determined right and wrong by using laws or principles to evaluate an action. You did not kill, because there was a law that prohibited it. Today, utilitarians decide by measuirng […]

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Lesson 2: What are Ethics?

Lesson 2: What are Ethics?

When I began my face-to-face classes by asking how many ethical decisions they had made that day, I received a variety of answers. Some felt these were confined to big questions that demanded carefully considering the proprieties and priorities of the options before taking action. Others believed just about all their acts involved some form […]

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