Justice: What's The Right Thing To Do?
PART ONE: ARGUING AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
describes the 1996 court case of a white woman named Cheryl Hopwood who
was denied admission to a Texas law school, even though she had higher
grades and test scores than some of the minority applicants who were
admitted. Hopwood took her case to court, arguing the schools
affirmative action program violated her rights. Students discuss the
pros and cons of affirmative action. Should we try to correct for
inequality in educational backgrounds by taking race into
consideration? Should we compensate for historical injustices such as
slavery and segregation? Is the argument in favor of promoting
diversity a valid one? How does it size up against the argument that a
students efforts and achievements should carry more weight than factors
that are out of his or her control and therefore arbitrary? When a
universitys stated mission is to increase diversity, is it a violation
of rights to deny a white person admission?
PART TWO: WHATS THE PURPOSE?
Sandel introduces Aristotle and
his theory of justice. Aristotle disagrees with Rawls and Kant. He
believes that justice is about giving people their due, what they
deserve. When considering matters of distribution, Aristotle argues one
must consider the goal, the end, the purpose of what is being
distributed. The best flutes, for example, should go to the best flute
players. And the highest political offices should go to those with the
best judgment and the greatest civic virtue. For Aristotle, justice is
a matter of fitting a persons virtues with an appropriate role.