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  • When we finished last time,

  • we were looking at John Stuart Mill's

  • and his attempt

  • to reply

  • to the critics

  • of Bentham's utilitarianism

  • in his book Utilitarianism,

  • Mill tries to show

  • that critics to the contrary, it is possible

  • within utilitarian framework to distinguish between higher and lower

  • pleasures, it is possible to make

  • qualitative distinctions of worth,

  • and we tested of that idea

  • with the Simpsons

  • in the Shakespeare excerpts

  • and the results of our experiment

  • seemed to call into question

  • Mill's distinctions

  • because a great many of you

  • reported

  • that you prefer the Simpsons

  • but that you still consider Shakespeare

  • to be the higher for the worthier pleasure

  • that's the dilemma

  • with which our experiment confronts Mill.

  • what about Mill's

  • attempt to account

  • for especially weighty character

  • of individual rights and justice in chapter five of utilitarianism?

  • he wants to say that individual rights

  • are worthy

  • of special respect

  • in fact he goes so far as to say that justice is the most sacred part

  • and the most incomparably binding part of morality

  • but the same challenge

  • could be put

  • to this part of Mill's defense

  • why

  • is justice

  • the chief part

  • and the most binding part of our morality? well he says because in the long run

  • if we do justice and if we respect rights,

  • society as a whole

  • will be better off in the long run.

  • well what about that?

  • what if we have a case where making an exception and violating individual rights actually will

  • make people

  • better off in the long run is it all right then?

  • to use people?

  • and there's a further

  • objection

  • that could be raised against

  • Mill's case for justice and rights

  • suppose the utilitarian calculus in the long run works out as he says it will

  • such that respecting people's rights

  • is a way of making everybody better off in the long run

  • is that the right reason

  • is that the only reason

  • to respect people?

  • if the doctor goes in

  • and yanks the organs from the healthy patient who came in for a checkup

  • to save five lives

  • there would be adverse effects in the long run

  • eventually people would learn about this

  • and would stop going in for checkups

  • is it the right reason

  • is the only reason

  • that you as a doctor

  • won't yanked the organs out of a healthy patient

  • that you think

  • well if I use

  • him in this way

  • in the long run

  • more lives will be lost?

  • or is there another reason

  • having to do with intrinsic respect for the person as an individual

  • and if that reason matters

  • and it's not so clear

  • that even Mill's utilitarianism

  • can take account of it

  • fully to examine these two

  • worries or objections

  • to Mill's defense

  • we need to we need to push further

  • we need to ask

  • in the case of higher or worthier pleasures

  • are there theories of the good life

  • that can provide independent moral standards

  • for the worth of pleasures?

  • if so what do they look like?

  • that's one question

  • in the case of justice and rights

  • if we suspected that Mill is implicitly leaning on notions of human dignity or respect for

  • persons that are not, strictly speaking,

  • utilitarian

  • we need to look to see whether there are some stronger theories of rights

  • that can explain

  • the intuition

  • which even Mill shares

  • the intuition

  • that the reason for respecting individuals and not using them

  • goes beyond

  • even utility in the long run.

  • today we turn

  • to one

  • of those strong theories of rights

  • strong theories of rights say

  • individuals matter

  • not just as instruments to be used for a larger social purpose

  • or for the sake of maximizing utility

  • individuals

  • are separate beings with

  • separate lives

  • worthy of respect

  • and so it's a mistake

  • according to strong theories rights, it's a mistake

  • to think about justice or law

  • by just getting up preferences

  • and values

  • the strong rights theory we turn to today

  • is libertarianism

  • libertarianism

  • take individual rights seriously

  • it's called libertarianism because it says the fundamental individual right

  • is the right to liberty

  • precisely because we are separate individual beings

  • we're not available

  • to any use

  • that the society might

  • desire or devise. precisely because we're individual

  • separate human beings

  • we have a fundamental right to liberty

  • and that means

  • a right

  • to choose freely

  • to live our lives as we please

  • provided we respect other people's rights

  • to do the same

  • that's the fundamental idea

  • Robert Nozick

  • one of the libertarian philosophers we read

  • for this course puts it this way

  • individuals have rights

  • so strong and far-reaching are these rights

  • that they raise the question of what, if anything

  • the state may do.

  • so what does libertarianism say

  • about

  • the role of government

  • or of the state

  • well there are three things that most

  • modern states do

  • that

  • on the libertarian theory of rights

  • are illegitimate

  • are unjust

  • one of them

  • is paternalist legislation

  • that's passing laws that protect people from themselves

  • seat belt laws for example

  • or motorcycle helmet laws

  • the libertarian says

  • it may be a good thing if people wear seat belts,

  • but that should be up to them

  • and the state

  • the government

  • has no business coercing them, us

  • to wear seat belts

  • by law

  • its coercion

  • so no paternalist legislation

  • number one. number two

  • no morals legislation

  • many laws

  • try to promote

  • the virtue of citizens

  • or try to give expression

  • to the moral

  • values

  • of the society as a whole.

  • libertarians say that's also

  • a violation of the right to liberty

  • take the example of, well a classic example of legislation offered in the name of promoting

  • morality traditionally,

  • have been laws that prevent

  • sexual intimacy

  • between

  • gays and lesbians

  • the libertarian says

  • nobody else is harmed

  • nobody else's rights are violated

  • so the state should get all of the business entirely

  • of trying to promote virtue

  • or to enact morals legislation.

  • and the third kind of law

  • or policy

  • it is ruled out

  • on the libertarian philosophy

  • is any taxation

  • or other policy

  • that serves the purpose

  • of redistributing income or wealth

  • from the rich to the poor

  • redistribution

  • is a kind of, if you think about it

  • says libertarianists, a kind of coercion

  • what it amounts to is theft

  • by the state

  • or by the majority

  • if we're talking about a democracy

  • from people who happen to do very well and earn a lot of money

  • now Nozick and other libertarians allow that there can be a minimal state

  • that taxes people for the sake of

  • what everybody needs

  • the national defense

  • police force

  • judicial system to enforce contracts and

  • property rights

  • but that's it.

  • Now I want to get your reactions

  • to this third

  • feature

  • of the libertarian view

  • I want to see

  • who among you

  • agree with that idea and who disagree

  • and why

  • and just to make a concrete and to see what's at stake

  • consider the distribution of wealth

  • in the united states.

  • The united states is among the most

  • In-egalitarian societies as far as distribution of wealth,

  • of all the advanced democracies

  • now is this just

  • or unjust

  • well what is the libertarian say

  • the libertarian says

  • you can't know just from the facts

  • I just given you

  • you can't know whether that distribution

  • it's just or unjust.

  • you can't know just by looking at a pattern or a distribution or a result

  • whether it's just or unjust

  • you have to know how it came to be

  • you can't just look at the end state or the result

  • you have to look at two principles

  • the first he calls justice in acquisition

  • or in initial holdings

  • and what that means simply is

  • did people get the things they use

  • to make their money

  • fairly

  • so we need to know

  • was there justice in the initial holdings, did they steal the land or the factory or the

  • goods that enabled them to make all that money?

  • if not,

  • if they were entitled to whatever it was that enabled them to

  • gather the wealth

  • the first principle is met.

  • the second principle is

  • did the distribution arise