Justice is an introduction to moral and political philosophy, including discussion of contemporary dilemmas and controversies.
About this Course
*Note - This is an Archived course*
This is a past/archived course. At this time, you can only explore this course in a self-paced fashion. Certain features of this course may not be active, but many people enjoy watching the videos and working with the materials. Make sure to check for reruns of this course.
Justice is a critical analysis of classical and contemporary theories of justice, including discussion of present-day applications. Topics include affirmative action, income distribution, same-sex marriage, the role of markets, debates about rights (human rights and property rights), arguments for and against equality, dilemmas of loyalty in public and private life. The course invites students to subject their own views on these controversies to critical examination.
The principal readings for the course are texts by Aristotle, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, and John Rawls. Other assigned readings include writings by contemporary philosophers, court cases, and articles about political controversies that raise philosophical questions.
Ways to take this edX course:
Simply Audit this Course
Can't commit to all of the lectures, assignments, and tests? Audit this course and have complete access to all of the course material, tests, and the online discussion forum. You decide what and how much you want to do.
Michael J. Sandel
Michael J. Sandel is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University, where he teaches political philosophy. His course "Justice" has enrolled more than 15,000 Harvard students. Sandel's writings have been published in 21 languages. His books include What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets (2012); Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? (2009); The Case against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering (2007); Public Philosophy: Essays on Morality in Politics (2005); Democracy's Discontent (1996); and Liberalism and the Limits of Justice(1982; 2nd ed., 1998).
None. This is an introductory course.
Nothing! The course is free.
No. Only an interest in thinking through some of the big ethical and civic questions we face in our everyday lives.
No. As long as you’ve got a computer to access the website, you are ready to take the course.
All of the course readings that are in the public domain are freely available online, at links provided on the course website. The course can be taken using these free resources alone. For those who wish to purchase a printed version of the assigned readings, an edited volume entitled, Justice: A Reader (ed., Michael Sandel) is available in paperback from Oxford University Press (in bookstores and from online booksellers). Those who would like supplementary readings on the themes of the lectures can find them in Michael Sandel's book Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?, which is available in various languages throughout the world. This book is not required, and the course can be taken using the free online resources alone.
No. You can watch the lectures at your leisure.
Yes, in several ways:
- Each lecture invites you to respond to a poll question related to the themes of the lecture. If you respond to the question, you will be presented with a challenge to the opinion you have expressed, and invited to reply to the challenge. You can also, if you wish, comment on the opinions and responses posted by other students in the course, continuing the discussion.
- In addition to the poll question, each class contains a discussion prompt that invites you to offer your view on a controversial question related to the lecture. If you wish, you can respond to this question, and then see what other students have to say about the argument you present. You can also comment on the opinions posted by other students. One aim of the course is to promote reasoned public dialogue about hard moral and political questions.
- Each week, there will be an optional live dialogue enabling students to interact with instructors and participants from around the world.