Justice: What’s The Right Thing To Do? Episode 01 “THE MORAL SIDE OF MURDER”

Justice: What’s The Right Thing To Do? Episode 01 “THE MORAL SIDE OF MURDER”

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Funding for this program is provided by: Additional funding provided by This is a course about Justice and we begin
with a story suppose you’re the driver of a trolley car, and your trolley car is hurdling down
the track at sixty miles an hour and at the end of the track you notice
five workers working on the track you tried to stop but you can’t your brakes don’t work you feel desperate because you know that if you crash into these five workers they will all die let’s assume you know that for sure and so you feel helpless until you notice that there is off to the right a side track at the end of that track there’s one worker working on track you’re steering wheel works so you can turn the trolley car if you want to onto this side track killing the one but sparing the five. Here’s our first question what’s the right thing to do? What would you do? Let’s take a poll, how many would turn the trolley car onto the side track? How many wouldn’t? How many would go straight ahead keep your hands up, those of you who’d go straight
ahead. A handful of people would, the vast majority
would turn let’s hear first now we need to begin to investigate the reasons
why you think it’s the right thing to do. Let’s begin with
those in the majority, who would turn to go onto side track? Why would you do it, what would be your reason? Who’s willing to volunteer a reason? Go ahead, stand up. Because it can’t be right to kill five people
when you can only kill one person instead. it wouldn’t be right to kill five if you could kill one person instead that’s a good reason that’s a good reason who else? does everybody agree with that reason? go ahead. Well I was thinking it was the same reason it was on 9/11 we regard the people who flew the plane who flew the plane into the Pennsylvania field as heroes because they chose to kill the people on the
plane and not kill more people in big buildings. So the principle there was the same on 9/11 it’s tragic circumstance, but better to kill one so that five can
live is that the reason most of you have, those
of you who would turn, yes? Let’s hear now from those in the minority those who wouldn’t turn. Well I think that same type of mentality that
justifies genocide and totalitarianism in order to save one type of race you
wipe out the other. so what would you do in this case? You would to avoid the horrors of genocide you would crash into the five and kill them? Presumably yes. okay who else? That’s a brave answer, thank you. Let’s consider another trolley car case and see whether those of you in the majority want to adhere to the principle, better that one should die so that five
should live. This time you’re not the driver of the trolley
car, you’re an onlooker standing on a bridge overlooking a trolley car track and down the track comes a trolley car at the end of the track are five workers the brakes don’t work the trolley car is about to careen into the
five and kill them and now you’re not the driver you really feel helpless until you notice standing next to you leaning over the bridge is it very fat man. And you could give him a shove he would fall over the bridge onto the track right in the way of the trolley car he would die but he would spare the five. Now, how many would push the fat man over the bridge? Raise your hand. How many wouldn’t? Most people wouldn’t. Here’s the obvious question, what became of the principle better to save five lives even if it means
sacrificing one, what became of the principal that almost everyone endorsed in the first case I need to hear from someone who was in the
majority in both cases is how do you explain the difference between
the two? The second one I guess involves an
active choice of pushing a person and down which I guess that that person himself would otherwise not
have been involved in the situation at all and so to choose on his behalf I guess to involve him in something that he otherwise would
have this escaped is I guess more than what you have in the first case where the three parties, the driver and the two sets of workers are already I guess in this situation. but the guy working, the one on the track
off to the side he didn’t choose to sacrifice his life any
more than the fat guy did, did he? That’s true, but he was on the tracks. this guy was on the bridge. Go ahead, you can come back if you want. Alright, it’s a hard question but you did well you did very well it’s a
hard question. who else can find a way of reconciling the reaction of the majority in these two cases? Yes? Well I guess in the first case where you have the one worker and the five it’s a choice between those two, and you have to make a certain choice and people are going to die
because of the trolley car not necessarily because of your direct actions.
The trolley car is a runway, thing and you need to make in a split second choice whereas pushing the fat man over is an actual
act of murder on your part you have control over that whereas you may not have control over the trolley car. So I think that it’s a slightly different situation. Alright who has a reply? Is that, who has a reply to that?
no that was good, who has a way who wants to reply? Is that a way out of this? I don’t think that’s a very good reason because
you choose either way you have to choose who dies
because you either choose to turn and kill a person which is an act of conscious thought to turn, or you choose to push the fat man over which is also an active conscious action so either way you’re making a choice. Do you want to reply? Well I’m not really sure that that’s the case, it just still
seems kind of different, the act of actually pushing someone over onto the tracks and killing them, you are actually killing him yourself, you’re pushing
him with your own hands you’re pushing and that’s different than steering something that is going to
cause death into another…you know it doesn’t really sound right saying it now when I’m up here. No that’s good, what’s your name? Andrew. Andrew and let me ask you this question Andrew, suppose standing on the bridge next to the fat man I didn’t have to push him, suppose he was standing over a trap door that I could open by turning
a steering wheel like that would you turn it? For some reason that still just seems more more wrong. I mean maybe if you just accidentally like leaned into
this steering wheel or something like that or but, or say that the car is hurdling towards a switch that will drop the trap then I could agree with that. Fair enough, it still seems wrong in a way that it doesn’t seem wrong in the
first case to turn, you say An in another way, I mean in the first situation you’re
involved directly with the situation in the second one you’re an onlooker as well. So you have the choice of becoming involved
or not by pushing the fat man. Let’s forget for the moment about this case, that’s good, but let’s imagine a different case. This time
your doctor in an emergency room and six patients come to you they’ve been in a terrible trolley car wreck five of them sustained moderate injuries one
is severely injured you could spend all day caring for the one severely injured victim, but in that time the five would die, or you could
look after the five, restore them to health, but during that time the one severely injured person would die. How many would save the five now as the doctor? How many would save the one? Very few people, just a handful of people. Same reason I assume, one life versus five. Now consider another doctor case this time you’re a transplant surgeon and you have five patients each in desperate
need of an organ transplant in order to survive on needs a heart one a lung, one a kidney, one a liver and the fifth a pancreas. And you have no organ donors you are about to see you them die and then it occurs to you that in the next room there’s a healthy guy who came in for a checkup. and he is you like that and he’s taking a nap you could go in very quietly yank out the five organs, that person would
die but you can save the five. How many would do it? Anyone? How many? Put your hands up if you would do it. Anyone in the balcony? You would? Be careful don’t lean over too much How many wouldn’t? All right. What do you say, speak up in the balcony, you
who would yank out the organs, why? I’d actually like to explore slightly alternate possibility of just taking the one of the five he needs an organ who dies first and using their four healthy organs to save the other
four That’s a pretty good idea. That’s a great idea except for the fact that you just wrecked the philosophical point. Let’s step back from these stories and these arguments to notice a couple of things about the way the arguments have began to unfold. Certain moral principles have already begun to emerge from the discussions we’ve had and let’s consider what those moral principles look like the first moral principle that emerged from the
discussion said that the right thing to do the moral thing to do depends on the consequences that will result from your action at the end of the day better that five should live even if one must die. That’s an example of consequentialist moral reasoning. consequentialist moral reasoning locates morality
in the consequences of an act. In the state of the world that will result from the thing you do but then we went a little further, we considered
those other cases and people weren’t so sure about consequentialist moral reasoning when people hesitated to push the fat man over the bridge or to yank out the organs of the innocent patient people gestured towards reasons having to do with the intrinsic quality of the act itself. Consequences be what they may. People were reluctant people thought it was just wrong categorically wrong to kill a person an innocent person even for the sake of saving five lives, at least these people thought that in the second version of each story we reconsidered so this points a second categorical way of thinking about moral reasoning categorical moral reasoning locates morality
in certain absolute moral requirements in certain categorical duties and rights regardless of the consequences. We’re going to explore in the days and weeks to come the contrast
between consequentialist and categorical moral principles. The most influential example of consequential moral reasoning is utilitarianism,
a doctrine invented by Jeremy Bentham, the eighteenth century English
political philosopher. The most important philosopher of categorical moral reasoning is the eighteenth century German philosopher
Emmanuel Kant. So we will look at those two different modes of moral reasoning assess them and also consider others. If you look at the syllabus, you’ll notice
that we read a number of great and famous books. Books by Aristotle John Locke Emanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, and others. You’ll notice too from the syllabus that
we don’t only read these books, we also all take up contemporary political and legal controversies
that raise philosophical questions. We will debate equality and inequality, affirmative action, free speech versus hate speech, same sex marriage, military conscription, a range of practical questions, why not just to enliven these abstract and distant
books but to make clear to bring out what’s at stake
in our everyday lives including our political lives, for philosophy. So we will read these books and we will debate these issues and we’ll see how each informs and
illuminates the other. This may sound appealing enough but here I have to issue a warning, and the warning is this to read these books in this way, as an exercise in self-knowledge, to read them in this way carry certain risks risks that are both personal and political, risks that every student of political philosophy have known. These risks spring from that fact that philosophy teaches us and unsettles us by confronting us with what we already know. There’s an irony the difficulty of this course consists in the
fact that it teaches what you already know. It works by taking what we know from familiar unquestioned settings, and making it strange. That’s how those examples worked worked the hypotheticals with which we began with their
mix of playfulness and sobriety. it’s also how these philosophical books work. Philosophy estranges us from the familiar not by supplying new information but by inviting and provoking a new way of seeing but, and here’s the risk, once the familiar turns strange, it’s never quite the same again. Self-knowledge is like lost innocence, however unsettling you find it, it can never be unthought or unknown what makes this enterprise difficult but also riveting, is that moral and political philosophy is a story and you don’t know where this story will lead
but what you do know is that the story is about you. Those are the personal risks, now what of the political risks. one way of introducing of course like this would be to promise you that by reading these books and debating these issues you will become a better more responsible
citizen. You will examine the presuppositions of
public policy, you will hone your political judgment you’ll become a more effective participant
in public affairs but this would be a partial and misleading promise political philosophy for the most part hasn’t
worked that way. You have to allow for the possibility that political philosophy may make you a worse
citizen rather than a better one or at least a worse citizen before it makes you a better one and that’s because philosophy is a distancing even debilitating activity And you see this going back to Socrates there’s a dialogue, the Gorgias in which one of Socrates’ friends Calicles tries to talk him out of philosophizing. calicles tells Socrates philosophy is a pretty toy if one indulges in it with moderation at
the right time of life but if one pursues it further than one should
it is absolute ruin. Take my advice calicles says, abandon argument learn the accomplishments of active
life, take for your models not those people who spend
their time on these petty quibbles, but those who have a good livelihood and reputation and many other blessings. So Calicles is really saying to Socrates quit philosophizing, get real go to business school and calicles did have a point he had a point because philosophy distances us from conventions from established assumptions and from settled beliefs. those are the risks, personal and political and in the face of these risks there is a
characteristic evasion, the name of the evasion is skepticism. It’s
the idea well it goes something like this we didn’t resolve, once and for all, either the cases or the principles we were
arguing when we began and if Aristotle and Locke and Kant and Mill haven’t solved these questions
after all of these years who are we to think that we here in Sanders Theatre over the
course a semester can resolve them and so maybe it’s just a matter of each person having his or her own principles
and there’s nothing more to be said about it no way of reasoning that’s the evasion. The evasion of skepticism to which I would offer the following reply: it’s true these questions have been debated for a very
long time but the very fact that they have reoccurred and persisted may suggest that though they’re impossible in one sense their unavoidable in another and the reason they’re unavoidable the reason they’re inescapable is that we live
some answer to these questions every day. So skepticism, just throwing up their hands
and giving up on moral reflection, is no solution Emanuel Kant described very well the problem with skepticism
when he wrote skepticism is a resting place for human reason where it can reflect upon its dogmatic wanderings but it is no dwelling place for permanent settlement. Simply to acquiesce in skepticism, Kant wrote, can never suffice to overcome the restless
of reason. I’ve tried to suggest through theses stories
and these arguments some sense of the risks and temptations of the perils and the possibilities I would
simply conclude by saying that the aim of this course is to awaken the restlessness of reason and to see where it might lead thank you very much. Like, in a situation that desperate, you have to do what you have to do to survive.
You have to do what you have to do you? You’ve gotta do What you gotta do. pretty much, If you’ve been going nineteen days without any food someone has to take the sacrifice, someone has to make the sacrifice
and people can survive. Alright that’s good, what’s your name? Marcus. Marcus, what do you say to Marcus? Last time we started out last time with some stores with some moral dilemmas about trolley cars and about doctors and healthy patients vulnerable to being victims of organ transplantation we noticed two things about the arguments we had one had to do with the way we were arguing it began with our judgments in particular cases we tried to articulate the reasons or the
principles lying behind our judgments and then confronted with a new case we found ourselves re-examining those principles revising each in the light of the other and we noticed the built-in pressure to try
to bring into alignment our judgments about particular cases and the principles we would endorse on reflection we also noticed something about the substance
of the arguments that emerged from the discussion. We noticed that sometimes we were tempted
to locate the morality of an act in the consequences in the results, in the state of the world that
it brought about. We called is consequentialist moral reason. But we also noticed that in some cases we weren’t swayed only by the results sometimes, many of us felt, that not just consequences but also the intrinsic
quality or character of the act matters morally. Some people argued that there are certain things
that are just categorically wrong even if they bring about a good result even if they save five people at the cost of one life. So we contrasted consequentialist moral principles with categorical ones. Today and in the next few days we will begin to examine one of the
most influential versions of consequentialist moral theory and that’s the philosophy of utilitarianism. Jeremy Bentham, the eighteenth century English political philosopher gave first the first clear systematic expression to the utilitarian moral theory. And Bentham’s idea, his essential idea is a very simple one with a lot of morally intuitive appeal. Bentham’s idea is the following the right thing to do the just thing to do it’s to maximize utility. What did he mean by utility? He meant by utility the balance of pleasure over pain, happiness over suffering. Here’s how we arrived at the principle of maximizing utility. He started out by observing that all of us all human beings are governed by two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. We human beings like pleasure and dislike pain and so we should base morality whether we are thinking of what to do in our own lives or whether as legislators or citizens we are thinking about what the law should be, the right thing to do individually or collectively is to maximize, act in a way that maximizes the overall level of happiness. Bentham’s utilitarianism is sometimes summed
up with the slogan the greatest good for the greatest number. With this basic principle of utility on hand, let’s begin to test it and to examine it by turning to another case another story but this time not a hypothetical story, a real-life story the case of the Queen versus Dudley and Stephens. This was a nineteenth-century British law case that’s famous and much debated in law schools. Here’s what happened in the case I’ll summarize the story and then I want to hear how you would rule imagining that you are the jury. A newspaper account of the time described the background: A sadder story of disaster at sea was never told than that of the survivors of the yacht Mignonette. The ship foundered in the south Atlantic thirteen hundred miles from the cape there were four in the crew, Dudley was the captain Stephens was the first mate Brooks was a sailor, all men of excellent character, or so the newspaper account tells us. The fourth crew member was the cabin boy, Richard Parker seventeen years old. He was an orphan he had no family and he was on his first long voyage at sea. He went, the news account tells us, rather against the advice of his friends. He went in the hopefulness of youthful ambition thinking the journey would make a man of him. Sadly it was not to be, the facts of the case were not in dispute, a wave hit the ship and the Mignonette went down. The four crew members escaped to a lifeboat the only food they had were two cans of preserved turnips no fresh water for the first three days they ate nothing on the fourth day that opened one of the cans of
turnips and ate it. The next day they caught a turtle together with the other can of turnips the turtle enabled them to subsist for the next few days and then for eight days they had nothing no food no water. Imagine yourself in a situation like that what would you do? Here’s what they did by now the cabin boy Parker is lying at the
bottom of the lifeboat in a corner because he had drunk sea water against the advice of the others and he had become ill and he appeared to be dying so on the nineteenth day Dudley, the captain, suggested that they should all have a lottery. That they should all draw lots to see who would die to save the rest. Brooks refused he didn’t like the lottery idea we don’t know whether this was because he didn’t want to take that chance
or because he believed in categorical moral principles but in any case no lots were drawn. The next day there was still no ship in sight so a Dudley told Brooks to avert his gaze and he motioned to Stephens that the boy Parker had better be killed. Dudley offered a prayer he told a the boy his time had come and he killed him with a pen knife stabbing him in the jugular vein. Brooks emerged from his conscientious objection
to share in the gruesome bounty. For four days the three of them fed on the body and blood
of the cabin boy. True story. And then they were rescued. Dudley describes their rescue in his diary with staggering euphemism, quote: “on the twenty fourth day as we were having our breakfast a ship appeared at last.” The three survivors were picked up by a German ship.
They were taken back to Falmouth in England where they were arrested and tried Brooks turned state’s witness Dudley and Stephens went to trial. They didn’t
dispute the facts they claimed they had acted out of necessity that was their defense they argued in effect better that one should die so that three could survive the prosecutor wasn’t swayed by that argument he said murder is murder and so the case went to trial. Now imagine
you are the jury and just to simplify the discussion put aside the question of law, and let’s assume that you as the jury are charged with deciding whether what they did was morally permissible or not. How many would vote not guilty, that what they did was morally
permissible? And how many would vote guilty what they did was morally wrong? A pretty sizable majority. Now let’s see what people’s reasons are, and let me
begin with those who are in the minority. Let’s hear first from the defense of Dudley and Stephens. Why would you morally exonerate them? What are your reasons? I think it’s I think it is morally reprehensible but I think that there’s a distinction between
what’s morally reprehensible what makes someone legally accountable in other words the night as the judge said
what’s always moral isn’t necessarily against the law and while I don’t think that
necessity justifies theft or murder any illegal act, at some point your degree of necessity does
in fact exonerate you form any guilt. ok. other defenders, other voices for the defense? Moral justifications for what they did? yes, thank you I just feel like in a situation that desperate you have to do
what you have to do to survive. You have to do what you have to do ya, you gotta do what you gotta do, pretty much. If you’ve been going nineteen days without any food you know someone just has to take the sacrifice
has to make sacrifices and people can survive and furthermore from that let’s say they survived and then they become productive
members of society who go home and then start like a million charity organizations and this and that and this and that,
I mean they benefit everybody in the end so I mean I don’t know what they did afterwards, I mean
they might have gone on and killed more people but whatever. what? what if they were going home and turned out to be assassins? What if they were going home and turned out to be assassins? You would want to know who they assassinated. That’s true too, that’s fair I would wanna know who they assassinated. alright that’s good, what’s your name? Marcus. We’ve heard a defense a couple voices for the defense now we need to hear from the prosecution most people think what they did was wrong, why? One of the first things that I was thinking was, oh well if they
haven’t been eating for a really long time, maybe then they’re mentally affected that could be used for the defense, a possible argument that oh, that they weren’t in a proper state of mind, they were making decisions that they otherwise wouldn’t be making, and if that’s an
appealing argument that you have to be in an altered mindset to do something
like that it suggests that people who find that argument convincing do you think that they’re acting immorally.
But I want to know what you think you’re defending you k
you voted to convict right? yeah
I don’t think that they acted in morally appropriate way. And why not? What do you say,
Here’s Marcus he just defended them, he said, you heard what he said, yes I did yes that you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do in a
case like that. What do you say to Marcus? They didn’t, that there is no situation that would allow human
beings to take the idea of fate or the other people’s
lives into their own hands that we don’t have that kind of power. Good, okay thanks you, and what’s your name? Britt? okay. who else? What do you say? Stand up I’m wondering if Dudley and Stephens had asked for Richard Parker’s
consent in, you know, dying, if that would would that exonerate them from an act of murder, and if so is that still morally
justifiable? That’s interesting, alright consent, now hang on, what’s your name?
Kathleen. Kathleen says suppose so what would that scenario look like? so in the story Dudley is there, pen knife in hand, but instead of the prayer or before the prayer, he says, Parker, would you mind we’re desperately hungry, as Marcus empathizes with we’re desperately hungry you’re not going to last long anyhow, you can be a martyr, would you be a martyr how about it Parker? Then, then then what do you think, would
be morally justified then? Suppose Parker in his semi-stupor says okay I don’t think it’ll be morally justifiable but I’m wondering.
Even then, even then it wouldn’t be? No You don’t think that even with consent it would be morally justified. Are there people who think who want to take up Kathleen’s consent idea and who think that that would make it
morally justified? Raise your hand if it would if you think it would. That’s very interesting Why would consent make a moral difference? Why would it? Well I just think that if he was making his own original
idea and it was his idea to start with then that would be the only situation in which I
would see it being appropriate in anyway

because that way you couldn’t make the argument
that he was pressured you know it’s three to one or whatever the ratio was, and I think that if he was making a decision to give his life
then he took on the agency to sacrifice himself which some
people might see as admirable and other people might disagree with that decision. So if he came up with the idea that’s the only kind of consent we could have
confidence in morally, then it would be okay otherwise it would be kind of coerced consent under the circumstances you think. Is there anyone who thinks that the even the consent of Parker would not justify their killing him? Who thinks that? Yes, tell us why, stand up I think that Parker would be killed with the hope that the other crew members
would be rescued so there’s no definite reason that he should
be killed because you don’t know when they’re going to get rescued so if you kill him you’re killing him
in vain do you keep killing a crew member until you’re rescued and then you’re
left with no one? because someone’s going to die eventually? Well the moral logic of the situation seems to
be that. That they would keep on picking off the weakest maybe, one by
one, until they were rescued and in this case luckily when three at least were still alive. Now if if Parker did give his consent would it be all right do you think or not? No, it still wouldn’t be right. Tell us why wouldn’t be all right. First of all, cannibalism, I believe is morally incorrect so you shouldn’t be eating a human anyway. So cannibalism is morally objectionable outside so then even in the scenario of waiting until someone died still it would be objectionable. Yes, to me personally I feel like of it all depends on one’s personal morals, like we can’t just, like this is just my opinion of course other people are going to disagree. Well let’s see, let’s hear what their disagreements
are and then we’ll see if they have reasons that can persuade you or not. Let’s try that Let’s now is there someone who can explain, those of you who are tempted
by consent can you explain why consent makes such a moral difference, what about the lottery idea does that count as consent. Remember at
the beginning Dudley proposed a lottery suppose that they had agreed to a lottery then how many would then say it was all right. Say there was a lottery, cabin boy lost, and the rest of the story unfolded. How
many people would say it’s morally permissible? So the numbers are rising if we add a lottery,
let’s hear from one of you for whom the lottery would make a moral difference why would it? I think the essential element, in my mind that makes it a crime is the idea that they decided at some point that
their lives were more important than his, and that I mean that’s kind of the basis for really
any crime right? It’s like my needs, my desire is a more important than yours
and mine take precedent and if they had done a lottery were everyone
consented that someone should die and it’s sort of like they’re all sacrificing
themselves, to save the rest, Then it would be all right? A little grotesque but, But morally permissible? Yes. what’s your name? Matt. so, Matt for you what bothers you is not the cannibalism, but the lack of due process. I guess you could say that And can someone who agrees with Matt say a little bit more about why a lottery would make it, in your view, morally permissible. The way I understood it originally was that that was the
whole issue is that the cabin boy was never consulted about whether or not it something was going
to happen to him even though with the original lottery whether or not he would be a part of that
it was just decided that he was the one that was going to die.
Yes that’s what happened in the actual case but if there were a lottery and they all agreed
to the procedure you think that would be okay? Right, because everyone knows that there’s gonna be
a death whereas you know the cabin boy didn’t know that this discussion was even happening there was no you know forewarning for him to know that hey, I may be the one
that’s dying. Okay, now suppose the everyone agrees to the lottery they have the lottery the cabin
boy loses any changes his mind. You’ve already decided, it’s like a verbal contract, you can’t go back
on that. You’ve decided the decision was made you know if you know you’re dying for the
reason for at others to live, you would, you know if the someone else had died you know that you would consume them, so But then he could say I know, but I lost. I just think that that’s the whole moral issue is that there was
no consulting of the cabin boy and that that’s what makes it the most horrible is that he had no idea what was even
going on, that if he had known what was going on it would be a bit more understandable. Alright, good, now I want to hear so there’s some who think it’s morally permissible but only about twenty percent, led by Marcus, then there are some who say the real problem here is the lack of consent whether the lack of consent to a lottery to
a fair procedure or Kathleen’s idea, lack of consent at the moment of death and if we add consent then more people are willing to consider the sacrifice morally justified. I want to hear now finally from those of you who think even with consent even with a lottery even with a final murmur of consent from Parker at the very last moment it would still be wrong and why would it be wrong that’s what I want to hear. well the whole time I’ve been leaning towards the categorical moral reasoning and I think that there’s a possibility I’d be okay with the
idea of the lottery and then loser taking into their own hands to kill themselves so there wouldn’t be an act of murder but
I still think that even that way it’s coerced and also I don’t
think that there’s any remorse like in Dudley’s diary we’re getting our breakfast it seems as though he’s just sort of like, oh, you know that whole idea of not valuing someone else’s life so that makes me feel like I have to take the categorical stance. You want to throw the
book at him. when he lacks remorse or a sense of having done
anything wrong. Right. Alright, good so are there any other defenders who who say it’s just categorically wrong, with or without consent, yes
stand up. Why? I think undoubtedly the way our society is shaped, murder
is murder murder is murder and every way our society looks down at it in the same
light and I don’t think it’s any different in any case. Good now let
me ask you a question, there were three lives at stake versus one, the one, that the cabin boy, he had no family he had no dependents, these other three had families back home
in England they had dependents they had wives and children think back to Bentham, Bentham says we have to consider the welfare, the utility, the happiness of everybody. We have to add it all up so it’s not just numbers three against one it’s also all of those people at home in fact the London newspaper at the time and popular opinion sympathized with them Dudley in Stephens and the paper said if they weren’t motivated by affection and concern for their loved ones at
home and dependents, surely they wouldn’t have done this. Yeah, and how is that any different from people on the corner trying to having the same desire to feed their family,
I don’t think it’s any different. I think in any case if I’m murdering you to advance my status, that’s murder and I think
that we should look at all of that in the same light. Instead of criminalizing certain activities and making certain things seem more
violent and savage when in that same case it’s all the same act and mentality that goes into the murder, a necessity
to feed their families. Suppose there weren’t three, supposed there were thirty, three hundred, one life to save three hundred or in more time, three thousand or suppose the stakes were even bigger. Suppose the stakes were even bigger I think it’s still the same deal. Do you think Bentham was wrong to say the right thing
to do is to add up the collected happiness, you think he’s
wrong about that? I don’t think he is wrong, but I think murder is murder in any case.
Well then Bentham has to be wrong if you’re right he’s wrong. okay then he’s wrong. Alright thank you, well done. Alright, let’s step back from this discussion and notice how many objections have we heard to what they did. we heard some defenses of what they did the defense has had to do with necessity the dire circumstance and, implicitly at least, the idea that numbers matter and not only numbers matter but the wider effects matter their families back home, their dependents Parker was an orphan, no one would miss him. so if you add up if you tried to calculate the balance of happiness and suffering you might have a case for saying what they did was the right thing then we heard at least three different types
of objections, we heard an objection that’s said what they did was categorically wrong, right here at the end categorically wrong. Murder is murder it’s always wrong even if it increases the overall happiness of society the categorical objection. But we still need to investigate why murder is categorically wrong. Is it because even cabin boys have certain fundamental rights? And if that’s the reason where do those rights come from if not from
some idea of the larger welfare or utility or happiness?
Question number one. Others said a lottery would make a difference a fair procedure, Matt said. And some people were swayed by that. That’s not a categorical objection exactly it’s saying everybody has to be counted as an equal even though, at the end of the day one can be sacrificed for the general welfare. That leaves us with another question to investigate, Why does agreement to certain procedure, even a fair procedure, justify whatever result flows from the operation of that procedure? Question number two. and question number three the basic idea of consent. Kathleen got us on to this. If the cabin boy had agreed himself and not under duress as was added then it would be all right to take his life
to save the rest. Even more people signed on to that idea but that raises a third philosophical question what is the moral work that consent does? Why does an act of consent make such a moral difference that an act that would be wrong, taking a life,
without consent is morally permissible with consent? To investigate those three questions we’re going to have to read some philosophers and starting next time we’re going to read Bentham, and John Stuart Mill, utilitarian philosophers. Don’t miss the chance to interact online with other viewers
of Justice join the conversation, take a pop quiz, watch lectures you’ve missed, and a lot more. Visit
www.justiceharvard.org. It’s the right thing to do. Funding for the program is provided by Additional funding provided by

100 thoughts on “Justice: What’s The Right Thing To Do? Episode 01 “THE MORAL SIDE OF MURDER”

  • Posegativity Post author

    Dan Plan brought me here
    Also, the man at 12:37 deserves a cookie

  • OutIawJesse James Post author

    I wouldn't let my dog go to Harvard. Full of liberal trash.

  • mukiri beatrice Post author

    I just wish that one day I'll enter Harvard university not just for tour but also make a great speech.

  • Gary Johnson Post author

    Great discussion, not a student but a subject I’ve always been interested in, I noticed no one mentioned “survival of the fittest”, why not just wait till someone dies naturally from starvation…then there is no murder,…wasn’t Richard Parker the name of the tiger in the movie “PI”, good movie. Thank you

  • Samuel Rangira Post author

    Great talk!

  • zeeshan iqbal Post author

    Can anyone tell me what are the recommended books and readings of this course.?

  • Rso Andrew Post author

    The one remains to the last are the justice, no one argues the killing of ethnic Indian in 18 centuries in the northern American is wrong, no one accused founding fathers of US being masters of slaves, and they said in constitution everyone is born to be equal,

    Justice for killing, it’s fact that who remains. Telling me what’s he said is that you are in a dream.

  • Scott Summers Post author

    Harvard students are dumb and ugly.. And I would increase the speed of the train heading full steam ahead to the five.. And all the females and blacks in that room would not understand, it's quite simple.. The type of person found in a group is most likely to be quite weak & stupid and is likely always to be found in groups.. That one person alone is the type of person that is possibly going to do something great for humanity.. Those other five people are drowning in each others lives, they need help to survive.
    That person alone is the type of person who is completely fine with being alone.. Those five are likely to be always found in groups, have no valuable ideas at all, ever..

  • Scott Summers Post author

    A two-year-old's solution to the trolley problem..

  • Scott Summers Post author

    Everyone in this room is now dumber for hearing that. At no point in your random incoherent rambling did you come anywhere close to a logical statement…
    I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.. OK a simple no would work just find thank you.

  • zulfiqar ali Post author

    Upsc cse aspirants here

  • QuoVadis Gates Post author

    As a leader I’d make the decision that service’s the most people… while at the same time understanding that I’d have blood on my hands…

  • David Aloy Post author

    Too bad Harvard has turned into an SJW nightmare university

  • SillyRabbits TricksR4Kidzzz Post author

    Lookey Here , a COIN lying on the ground along my path ??? Nine Years it's lied Here ??? When Two Paths Cross Four Points become One ??? A Sorta Starting Point Between Two individuals ???

    Good and Bad, Right and Wrong, Moral and Immoral ??? The Basis of Religion ??? Spiritual Aspects, when You start at the ROOT , THE SEED THEY STEM FROM, THE BEGINNING, THAT LEADS TO A MIDDLE AND A CERTAIN END, BUT NOT ENTIRLEY, DEPENDING HOW YOU LOOK AT IT ???

    Red Pill anyone ??? A CERTAIN TRUTH, NO ONE WANTS TO FULLY ADMIT ??? Everyone of us """Is""" going to die ??? Sorry but that's A PART OF LIFE ??? To survive, to live, energy, must consume other energy, which is other forms of life ??? We don't look at them with sympathy, but plants have feelings, they are living conscious beings ???

    You talk of these things, and you discover God, what He, it , is ??? There is the Natural Order and The Designed Order ??? Intervention, Interference, from intelligence ??? Flesh of my Flesh, All that is, feeding from itself ??? Wild Animals, Is it wrong when a Shark Kills ??? A Lion, A Tiger , A Bear ??? Only when they attack humans ??? Chimps our cousins are ok, not People ??? Evolved Primates ???

    Speaker Says, It's better NOT TWO THINK ??? Grammar mistakes, The PROGRAMMKNG you are trained to See, missing the messages entirely ??? Justifying Actions for their reactions ???

    Simple Simon and His Simple Speech, Tricking the Kiddies ??? Ask THE QUESTIONS that are REAL ??? Would You Terminate a Life, to save another ??? Organs for instance ??? Would you condone murdering, One Life if it was unwanted, to save many others ??? That also provides WORK, in the fields of science law and medicine ??? Education ???

    Is abortion ok Sixes ??? If the body doesn't want the LIFE living inside it, is it up to the Host, The Ruler of the Body, to decide who lives and who dies, and if death is chosen, can that life save others, spare parts, in a meat market for a beast system, ???

    Beast, All that We Are ??? Evolved to the Minds and Spirits of the Day ??? If Cars can be used as ambulances, to save lives injured and dying from car wrecks from excessive speeds, is it ok to speed ???

    Drugs and pharmaceuticals ??? Side effects ??? If you KNOW, A PERCENTAGE WILL DIE, due you continue to save sum ??? KNOW WHAT FATE IS SIXES ??? It's a certainty ??? But is everything certain after a mistake is seen ??? Pleasure and Pain ??? Ummm, sorry Charlie, but some people GET PLEASURE FROM PAIN, SOME LIKE BEING HURT OR HURTING OTHERS ??? The Ones who like hurting others, pushing those buttons, pulling levers, Turing those wheels for instance ??? Greed is their reasoning, what pleases the individual over all others ???

    Don't think to much ??? Over thinking ??? It destroys their programming, what they ASSume is right and wrong ??? Cannibalism ??? How does the Con man, pitch his sale ??? A sail set that guides your ships, to their ports, Pirates and the swords ??? Crossed Bones, At the Center A HEAD, SKIN LESS , A SYMBOL OF DEATH ??? B.O.O. !!!

    Justifying Extortion, AKA BUSINESS INTEREST ??? Hey Harvey, Who Teaches YOU, That in turn Teaches Them who pay you for said education, programming, training, to know and think and operate as commanded ???

    McDonald's, How many suffer and die, for those fries ??? From the fields of Potatoes to the fryers, whose lives, what cost what sacrifices occur, for your pleasures, desires, hungers ???

    To survive, We must due so buy a system, an order, a design ??? Like a fortune teller, or a ON LOOKER, WITH A BETTER VIEW, VANTAGE POINT, SEEING AN EVENT BEFORE IT HAPPENS ??? And having THE TIME, AND POWER, TO ALTER IT ??? If you were never there, fate would take the five, but like a coin on the ground, you come across something that gains your care, attention, time, will you devote energy to it ???

    Energy is not just matter, chemicals , it's stimulation's ??? Like pleasure and pain, like , liking and hating ??? Ever meet someone and before you said hello, knew you always loved them or hated them, never trusted or liked someone, or did, that moment who met them, some the opposite ??? Know that eye know you, your not what I first thought ??? You might think they are great at first, and not so much later ???

    You might hate them and then learn to love them ??? Interactions, when you mix energies together ??? Like two fighters or two lovers ??? A fighter and a lover, can change them both , make each a little of both ???

    The moral dilemma is often based off the selfish ones ??? What's best for the one choosing ??? We are all gonna die, so who shall we sacrifice and for HOW MUCH ??? You see this is where math comes in, weights and measures, those profits ??? LOGICAL SCIENCE, because KNOW MATTER WHAT, SOME THINGS ARE GONNA HAPPEN, LIKE DEATH AND THOSE TAXES, COMPENSATION TO COVER THE EXPENSES OF ENERGY DEVOTED TO SAID CAUSES ??? The Clause ??? The CON TRACT, THE DEED, SIGN HERE ON THE DOTTED LINE, IN BLOOD ???

    Hey Sixes, Here's a Question, Is it Ok for Banks and governments to pass laws, that justify killing to protect their interest ??? Stealing homes, loan Sharking, predatory lending ??? Hunters Hunting Prey, THE HUNTINGTON WAYS , BUY THE WAYS OF THEIR WORLD ???

    Look at all the Sixes, PAYING THEM, FOR TEACHINGS THEY PERCEIVE AS BEING RIGHT ??? Twisting Words, and Imaginations off hypothetical situations ??? Pass their test, get a degree of certification ??? IN DEBT FOR SELF SACRIFICE , TO KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TOLD AND DETERMKEND AS RIGHT ???

    Who wants to live, experience life and all it has to offer ??? Wanna be reach, successful ,famous, wanna make a difference ??? Can you make the hard decisions, to the toughest questions ??? If You COULD BE GOD, WOULD YOU SAVE ONE LIFE, IF IT COST ANOTHER ???

    There's a poor defenseless kitten being eaten buy a snake, due to assist, or let nature run its course ??? Your selfish attempts will save one, costing the other ??? Doing nothing one lives , one dies, which due you choose, like over the other ??? Being a image of something, or a creator ???

    The Ways Of Our World, ITS FUNCTIONING, IT IS A DESIGN THAT SUSTAINS LIFE, AND TO FUEL THIS MACHINE, REQUIRES OUR BLOOD AND SACRIFICES ??? Cause Know Matter what, Everyone WILL DIE, so to LIVE, you manage those certain deaths, and sell it, to those who want it more than others and will due whatever they must to satisfy their hungers, their thirst, their desires, selfishness ???

    Every Question, Has an Answer, Every Answer has their reasons, weighed and measured, buy what's best, buy the good , the bad and the ugly sides of life and death ??? Aspirin ??? A medicine that kills, but is ok ??? Plastics ??? Pollution, at a convenience , a cost, a price a due ??? Happiness is pricy ??? Bottled water and beverages per individual, billions, ending up as waste, destroying the environments of other life on this planet ???

    Like clearing land, pushing insects and animals off, for what's best of who ??? The whole or a few , who want to provide what others want ???
    Temptation, ??? What if your kids were sick, but there is not enough organs ??? Would you justify killing , abortions, etc, to supply those demands ???



  • Tom Gorst Post author

    I only got to 10 mins so can't say for the rest of the talk. To me the trolly cart moral dilemma between the fat man and switch is a simple one. Firstly, to defend Andrew, I'm assuming in the first case the cart is going to kill someone no matter what, the second causes a death which would not have occurred otherwise. This mental exercise is all based on the assumption that we can even predict a future outcome. How could I possibly know, in that very moment, in real life, that if I push a human being it would save five other people as a consequence? Let alone if I saw it were possible, you have to take into account my attempt in itself. Do I push him hard? What if he misses the track altogether? What if he just hurts his leg, yells at me and comes hopping – what then Furthermore, how can I know five people with minor injuries would die, should I choose to care for a critically injured person? This is all hypothetical of course, but cause and effect is not always visible to us. It is not linear or black and white. I think this exercise pretends to be playing with a dilemma but is caught in its own fancy of being able to make a value judgement in any given moment, with zero view of consequences.

  • Mohamed Ali Post author

    Ethical dilemma

  • Victoria Joe Post author

    Murder is murder, what's moral about it? Don't try to make excuses of 9/11

  • Emmanuel Castro Post author

    I believe if that happened to me I'd let the trolley do what it needs and let God do the rest. The murder wouldnt be on my hands but those who didnt tell the workers not to work on an active track.

  • Emmanuel Castro Post author

    This is how government thinks sacrifice the people for the betterment of their own personal lives

  • Jacob George Post author

    What if these 5 people are criminals and one is saint… killing anyone , I surrender to the Lord , to go by his will because I m not to judge anything…the Lord is our savior..why not kill myself and save all , like my father in heaven did…the father I want to be like you…

  • wachiye martin Post author

    This is such an interesting and interactive class. Learning is going on.

  • Jacob George Post author

    Legal question vs ethical

  • Tejas Ramanuj Post author

    June 2019

  • F-A Paradis Post author

    Who is watching in 2020?

  • John Ellis Post author

    1. A true pacifist would never take a job driving a train, as trains often kill people.
    2, Taking the life of someone is not murder unless it was by deliberate intent.
    3. "Do not enrich yourself upon the misery of another.
    4. "Do not use force to overcome evil. If they strike you on the right cheek, turn to them the other. If they take you to court, the cloak of yours to take, give them also your coat."

  • John Ellis Post author

    If a driver is acting safe when his vehicle is involved in a traffic fatality,
    he did not kill and is innocent of all guilt.

  • Zhr Abbasi Post author

    I don't agree with the latest result.
    Murder is murder in any case
    We can't sacrifice anyone for any reason 🙂🙂🙂

  • Maria Callous Post author

    Ian Shapiro, Yale Univ, has a course in moral philosophy. very good…

  • Beom Sun CHUNG Post author

    This is a classic stand-up comedy like some bits from Louis CK.

  • Winnie the Pooh Post author

    50:13 I think Bentham isn’t wrong and the student is still right when he said “murder is murder”. Bentham only proposed for the maximum happiness and welfare but that reason can never be enough to justify murder, which could be an act of depriving another person’s lives for others’ happiness

  • uzomad Post author

    Who is watching in 2020?

  • mormx morelia Post author

    Please, you are asking many peolpe of diferent places of the world, you only have to feel the bridge its on your mind, please you only have to do its to be a better person

  • mormx morelia Post author

    For me in Mexico, feeling like a new "age" of Second War, Just look all the many people, for me always be an humanist, not to be an "speaker in a bad suite", stuped, cant walk, cant make a reasonable idea, cant be a human to believe… OMG

  • mormx morelia Post author

    ahora en español, tu no sabes ni siquiera de politica e incluso de filosofia, para mi tu crees que tu raza es la mejor del mundo pero no sabes nada de ello, supieras solamente de la filosofia de verdad te admiraria pero no es asi, es por ello que te analizo y veo una persona hueca en mente, la dificultad mas grande que tienen ustedes norteamericanos es que la nacion que los ha hecho es la suma de todas las naciones. dejen de joder a México como lo Han JODIDO SIEMPRE

  • mormx morelia Post author

    eres malo para hablar y tienes problemas para dirigirte a las personas, nisiquiera convences,, solo ve tu video, no creeslo que dices, ni tu traje te ayudo, yo hubiera dado una mejor platica y no las estupidees que dices… lo siento pero es la verdad

  • Appian A Post author

    Deconstructing Intuition

  • Bruna Vendramini Post author

    Algum brasileiro aí?

  • Moustafa Ascoura Post author

    Stop writing, PEOPLE!

  • Drew Tieng Post author

    Hate speech vs free speech, excited to rewatch this in today’s climate

  • Maria Callous Post author

    Trolley was runaway killer and the conductor was coerced into action. The bystander is not compelled. The first is an accident and the second is will. The question in Parker and the Mignonette is about Justice. What is justice for the murdered Parker. Is there any justice for Parker. Parker is dead and eaten. The captain and others survived. What is justice for Parker?

  • Lone Wolf Post author

    All these poor sucker students paying a lot of money to hear what we hear for free (or pay $10 to buy Sandel's book on the topic).

  • Evangeline Jayme Post author

    Hello Its better to kill 1 to save 5 life..

  • Evangeline Jayme Post author

    I like to enroll your lecture let me know online study if possible

  • kunited9 Post author

    This dude just forgot the main book in the literature of morality: The Bible. Try and beat that. God bless

  • Iron Man Post author

    You could avoid killing both

  • Iron Man Post author

    What if the day man was a detective

  • Iron Man Post author

    What is the individual vs the five was a president.

  • Iron Man Post author

    Pushing a person under a bus will be manslaughter.

  • Iron Man Post author

    What if the individual was a father of 5 and the group of five where bachelors.

  • Iron Man Post author

    Save the five

  • 류아연 Post author

    공리주의 입장이 그렇다 하더라도
    살인은 그 자체로 살인입니다.
    선의지 또는 선자체가 아닌 것이죠.
    필요악을 강조하는 것이 공리주의라면

  • Luqman Akhtar Post author

    wonderful i wish i could be a part of this class

  • Joe Ebby Post author

    who is watching this in 2020? Ahead of my times….

  • Yulina Goto Post author

    12:36 WOAH! I've heard the transplant problem several times before, but I've never thought about this guy's proposition–to take one of the dying patient's other healthy organs to save the other four. Of course, he's not saying it's the moral thing to do, but the idea is cool.

  • Iron Man Post author

    Very moral neighbors get mistreated by immoral neighbors and lose there home. What then when 7 homes have been lost and they gave to move year to year and times month to month and still discriminated on and have to move because of racist neighbors that think they are preferred.

  • Iron Man Post author

    I rather die then to be a canabal

  • Iron Man Post author

    Justice is why immoral blacks had there president.

  • Iron Man Post author

    Scarfice your self to save 6

  • Iron Man Post author

    You can only serve one master I serve pleasure

  • Iron Man Post author


  • Iron Man Post author

    They should know and learn how to make material to fish.

  • Iron Man Post author

    Lost at sea defentaly altulater mind state

  • Iron Man Post author

    If I where to die at sea I aould offer my srlf so they ca. Survive

  • Iron Man Post author

    The least available man should give themself up.

  • Iron Man Post author

    We all die it's how you want to die

  • Iron Man Post author

    Cowards live honorable people die

  • Iron Man Post author

    What if one has a kid.

  • Iron Man Post author

    It's groestess

  • Iron Man Post author

    If a person pushes a person to murder the pushes are guilty

  • Iron Man Post author

    If a man is a defender and protects himself he is innocent.

  • Ethan K Post author

    Lol wow Harvard kids aren’t very bright lol

  • Samuel F Post author

    Here's an motivational video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7FFtMlm4V0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35AxkSgQUTI

  • Gj Lipana Post author

    I think the yacht accident could be related to terrorism.

  • Gj Lipana Post author

    Their arguements are so baddddd except for the last bald black guy

  • Nithin Oliver Post author

    Any cse aspirant

  • Mishn0 Post author

    What a joke. Harvard talking about morality. They should practice it before they start trying to preach it.

  • Oladipo Oladipo Post author

    A guy looks like Merlin!… Wowlol

  • Oladipo Oladipo Post author

    A computer scientist!…but I'm fully interested in this!💯

  • Maria Callous Post author

    wHAT HE'S ASKING IN EACH CASE oops caps is as follows: is there are an applicable moral strategy for this event or circumstance. Do what ya gotta do is not a strategy. It is survival only. Every animal has that strategy.

  • sadiq2008able Post author

    who's watching in 1940 because America has regressed back to that time-period

  • Andy Caldwell Post author

    Utilitarianism is abhorrent. The whole doctrine quickly falls apart when utilitarians themselves are in the minority, and thus the ones placed on the kill lists. They all then can't bail out from that bankrupt doctrine fast enough.

  • Fredrik Steckl Post author

    Here is the thing though, there is a third option. You steer the trolly into a tree and sacrifice your own life, saving 6 people.

  • conan smith Post author


  • Young Sophy Post author

    When he asked I think the driver should not change the direction. Because the man on the other side is more innocent

  • Jian Liang Post author

    My thought on the lottery, the cabinet boy will enter the lottery anticipating two possible outcomes, being eaten or to eat others. If the cabinet boy wants to be eaten, there won't be a lottery, therefore, the cabinet boy will participate in the lottery wanting to eat others, make him less innocent. And that losing the lottery and being eaten by others seem like a justifiable punishment for wanting to eat others.

  • Paul Lucas Post author

    My mom said she would though her self over to save everyone. I have a good mom.

  • T J Post author

    Like a boss 12:36

  • Josh Scheeter Parkers Post author


  • FreeGoeland Post author

    Watching it a second time… Great stuff!

  • Carlos Guerrero Post author


  • Maria Callous Post author

    spliced video-I am supposed to believe these morons are Harvard students. sure…

  • Robert W Norris II Post author

    Hammurabi's code, Professor.

  • Bertwin Lord Post author

    It is all about an act of choice. If you do an action to kill – that is murder. One might say the act of inaction is the action itself.

  • Daniel Natal Post author

    A deeper mystery than the Ethics questions he's posing: Why is the speaker only calling on Asian students?

  • Maria Callous Post author

    In a disaster these guys turn to survival of the fittest. animals…

  • Maria Callous Post author

    moral strategy had nothing to do with inclination. Doesn't matter what the strategy is as long as there is loyalty and honor. glad my tax dollars have nothing to do with this school

  • Shahadat Hossain Post author

    Who is watching in 2019?

  • Tarig Yassin Post author

    A wonderful lecture

  • Admiral Hank Dawkins XIII Post author

    'I would only believe in a god who could dance.' — Friedrich Nietzsche

  • piggypigpig Post author

    So many foreigners in that university. Smh.

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