Michael Sandel: The lost art of democratic debate

Michael Sandel: The lost art of democratic debate

Dereck Turner

100 thoughts on “Michael Sandel: The lost art of democratic debate

  1. phynx2006 says:

    This is one of the most interesting videos I have listened to in a long time. Excellent :))

  2. MillionthUsername says:

    This guy thinks that "justice" is giving the best flutes to the best flute players? Is this a joke?

  3. Andophonyc says:

    Do you have a better idea?

  4. MillionthUsername says:

    Yes. The people who make flutes voluntarily trade with the people who buy flutes. That's about as much as can be said about flute-justice.

  5. Andophonyc says:

    Those are not the conditions of the scenario. In the scenario, we have a number of flutes to be distributed to an equal number of flute players. The concept of trade and purchase was never a part of this equation.

  6. MillionthUsername says:

    I thought he was relating all this to democracy. But he's simply saying that if you happen to have flutes (which you presumably acquired in a just manner) and you want to give them away, then it's more just to give them to the best players than to inferior ones?

    If that's the case, I don't see the point. I don't see why it wouldn't be equally "just" to give them to beginning students. Charity doesn't violate justice in any case.

    How does the flute example relate to the rest of the talk then?

  7. Andophonyc says:

    A poor flute player will sound poorly on a poor flute or an excellent flute. So in theory, it doesn't matter what kind of flute a beginning flute player gets. It will sound poor until said player gains more skill. Giving a poor flute player a poor flute has no great benefit or loss. A good flute player, however, will sound better on a good flute than on a poor flute, as they tend to have a better mastery of the craft. So giving the best flutes to the best players has more benefit.

  8. Wes Sturdevant says:

    I can't see why people would dislike this video, I applaud Michael Sandal in all I've seen of him in his 'justice: what's the right thing to do' and not because I always agree with him but because he presents it well and allows the audience to think for themselves when asking questions for votes of what they think and with each question is brought new light on the subject. Awesome Job at yet another great presentation. And I totally go for the idea of doing such presentations worldwide!!

  9. babacan Heyamola says:

    hitabetine hasta kaldım,karşısındakilerle iyi bir şekilde iletişim kurmak böyle tecrübeli insanların işi olsa gerek.

  10. James Dubreze says:

    The Guy who said no is within the wrong circle, but he does have the right to his opinion under a democratic government.

  11. Adam Abdulrahman says:

    This comment is based on the same-sex marriage topic. Because heterosexual marriages are excepted with the idea of adoption, or the idea that two people can be married without having children, and both of these are common, than who is to say that the point of marriage is procreation, or that same=sex marriages cannot adopt children.

  12. cdw442 says:

    but then who is in charge of deciding who is a good flute player and who is a poor one?
    and how do we make more good flute players without the adequate tools to support players who are poor now but one day may be good?

  13. Icariusnatarius says:

    This is kinda repetition after watching the "Justice with Michael Sandel"… Yet understandable, still a great argumenting with clarity.

  14. Peter Monahan says:

    The argument in the video doesn't really get into it, but this kind of argument is what Sandel wants from democratic debate, with the exception that in a good debate you should provide an idea that you feel could work better. Debate won't cause everyone to agree, but it can help frame the values people associate with their point of view on an issue, and in your case you want everyone to have an equal opportunity, and to make sure that there is a fair system in place to make decisions.

  15. Peter Monahan says:

    Justice Scalia's argument is fallacious for a third and more important reason: golf on the PGA tour is a "productive activity". PGA players don't have other jobs, this is their source of income, and they devote many hours per day to it. In a situation where a man's applying for a job is at stake, to say that the essential nature of that job cannot be considered as the job has no actual purpose is ridiculous. The purpose is to win, and in so doing to gain money.

  16. Mack Harshaw says:


  17. raedenjay says:

    haha good idea

  18. raedenjay says:

    I think it can be pretty obvious who better flute players are. Music tests are an option. Ability to play certain things and also the ability to play certain things and in certain manners regarding how the original composer of the piece intended it to be heard.

  19. Austin Bond says:

    I love how Sandel always gets the audience involved. His Harvard lectures are great.

  20. deleteme says:

    I didn't dislike this, but a reason might be that same-sex marriage opponents do not always argue that marriage is only for the purpose of procreation. Michael established a straw-man argument in this video that they now need to clarify when debating with other people.

  21. deleteme says:

    It can get tricky if someone is only good in certain musical styles, or if two people are fairly similar in skill level, but one plays songs composed by others, while the other is skilled at improvisation, but can't read notes well.

  22. Erick Pires says:

    he spoke of great wisdom , and makes me think twice on my strategy of arguing . (intro to philosophy 101)

  23. blmutantx says:

    i`m not impressed

  24. vinnv226 says:

    15:07 This increased my faith in humanity

  25. Charles Bannister says:

    I'm really surprised there were some hands up against same sex marriage. Ignorant people are everywhere, but I didn't think there would be any at Ted.

  26. lennoxRU says:

    I was really surprised to see so many pervert people in the USA, those who raised their harnds for the same sex marriage. And these are the same people who pretend they are smart? It's laughable.

  27. lennoxRU says:

    and ruined mine

  28. Shane Stroup says:

    how can 34 people dislike this? Sandel is one of the best academics of our day.

  29. lennoxRU says:

    the rest of the so called "advanced" is going to end up in hell if this trend continues. In Russia we cant give equal rights to perverts and people who have been affected by pervert propaganda to such an extent that they become perverts themselves. Also, I bet you are not in a position to speak about, let alone condemn, Russian journalism.

  30. Doowoong Lee says:

    I'm really disgusting when he's referring Aristotle's teleology, Does it make sense that everything has its own purpose? It's just an illusion originated from cognitive bias. If we can decide who should take the best flute based on the Aristotle's teleology, I really wonder if his possession can be justified in that way

  31. aritrayou says:

    Could you elaborate on that? How cognitive bias leads to the fact that everything has its own purpose?
    Just to be clear (since with all due respect your English seems a little off) are you saying that causality itself as the deciding factor is wrong or that the causality selected in this case is wrong?

  32. aritrayou says:

    Democracy's purpose is not freedom. Democracy means that the majority's opinion will be carried as final, the minorities' opinion(s) is/are rejected.
    Electing a government to administer us is what you call a nuisance, however there is the question, if not democracy, what then?
    Democracy always, but democracy suited to the national temper.

  33. Freddylot says:

    'Golfers are very sensitive about the athletic status of their game'.. I agree with you though, pro golf is something else, but it still works in the case of his overall argument.

  34. Shawn Ravenfire says:

    I think another obstacle to democratic debate in the modern age is the whole political party system. Politicians find themselves obligated to blindly and emphatically side with their fellow party members on virtually every issue. Thus, they become gridlocked, or even worse, fail to consider viable third-options (such as giving everyone a golf cart, or leaving the government out of marriages altogether).

  35. Charles Martel says:

    We can make debate more civil by stop being intellectually lazy. We must resist the temptation to label people with terms like sexist, racist, homophobe, bigot, etc. When you label someone you position them beneath your contempt, thus you don't have to argue with them and consider their points. This is the trick the left has been using for the last 40 years.

  36. Charles Martel says:

    Why does every YouTube video seem to have a comment like this? What does it matter who or what brought you here?

  37. Charles Martel says:

    You completely missed the point of the speaker. He argued that people on both side of issues bring with them strong convictions and here you are dismissing someone outright that disagrees with your stand on same-sex marriage. You obviously didn't learn a thing from this TED talk and in fact you posses the very ignorance that you supposed to be opposed to. You don't want to debate, you just want to use labels and call people names.

  38. Charles Martel says:

    So nobody is allowed to disagree with same-sex marriage? Can you not see how ignorant, intolerant and downright stupid your comment is? You entirely missed the point of this TED talk.

  39. Cemil Bilgin says:

    And I am very glad that there are people who share his knowledge in such a nice way as Michael Sandel.

  40. RoemerS8 says:

    i love this guy

  41. filyok says:

    his wish about global classroom actually came true with edX.

  42. cyco2kill says:

    the answer was so simple, of course they should allow the use of a golf cart. Otherwise they should have banned Tiger Woods from the game also, when he got lasik eye surgery getting a 20/20 vision

  43. VIJAY MADHAV says:

    who should get the good guns?

  44. Francois Labelle says:

    Hummm…Sarah Palin bringing Rousseau and Tocqueville in her Tea Party arguments….interesting!

  45. Rickard Aas says:

    The mexicans!

  46. 3lst3f4n0 says:

    Many people forget that democrocy does not NECCISEERLY mean freedom for the people, for example in capitalistic countries where only one thing gives you freedom…money

  47. l says:

    The purer capitalism is getting, the less it is being sustained by actual democratic consensus. In fact, capitalism does much better without the constraints placed on it by democratic control. Wherever people come together and exchange arguments, the consensus is inevitably somewhere on the "evil" statist/socialist side. Libertarianism is utterly incompatible with democracy, which is where the case for Libertarianism goes down in flames for everyone except authoritarians.

  48. Traveler Wendell says:

    So, the flutes should go to the best flute players? So say you ave a bunch of money instead of flutes, would you then give the money to those who spend money the best? LOL BTW, I enjoyed this video and like Michael Sandel.

  49. OolTube02 says:

    I was going to say, the people with the potential for being the best flute players, provided owning the best flute brings out that potential in them.

    Another way of putting it would be, the people who eventually make people happiest with their flutes.

  50. SteepDescent says:

    With all due respect to Michael Sandel (and the shoulders he argues from) – he's much more learned than me, but I believe he is misinterpreting the golf issue. He, and the Justice Ministers have focused too much on the specific attributes of golf, when that is hardly the issue. The issue is about the socio-cultural and ethical values associated with the PLAYERS. Needless to say, if the majority of players didn't care about a certain rule (i.e. they wouldn't see unfairness), then a new rule would be put into place, and thus we would have a paradigm shift. The issue is simply resolved by noting that if the majority of players who are playing with Mr. Martin are against a rule change by citing reasonable unfairness, then so be it. Why should one player's wishes be upheld over the majority?  The onus is not on the majority to contemplate fairness by copying Mr. Martin. This is how all rules of games have been structured since the beginning of time. This is why we added the castling rule into chess, for example. If everyone started to vehemently protest against this rule, then we'd simply have another paradigm shift to the game.

    This is quite amusing, since I'm largely against democratic theory, and for virtue ethics. Thus I think the caddy example is a very poor example to be used in the lecture, indeed.

  51. Muffinfordinner says:

    TED is part of the problem. Where is the debate after a ted talk? Who gets to respond to them, who gets to challenge what they say?

  52. Asha2820 says:

    Surely it is not up to the state what the rules of a game are….  This issue should be decided upon by the sporting bodies.

  53. Maelor James says:

    "Decision-making on major issues is now vested in international institutions which are so remote from public influence, that the public has no idea what's going on." Robert Barsky

  54. japanesesen says:


  55. daniel garcia says:

    donde puedo conseguir este vídeo traducido al español.

  56. as40280 says:

    My answers:

    1. put the flutes on auction
    2. the organizer of the golf tournament decides – after all it is their tounament
    3. the government should not sanction love just as it doesn't sanction friendship – wanna get married? – go to your priest or lawyer

  57. Nizzy M says:

    I love this guy…. he never ceases to amaze me!

  58. MrLaw111 says:

    Is he from the show " lost"?

  59. victordeprez says:

    charlie is beautiful

  60. biplob kumar das says:

    Would love witnessing Mr. Sandel here in India. You can sure make students back here explore with you the subjects of justice and morality.

  61. 天沢一哲 says:



  62. Geert Kok says:

    God is not telling anyone to be benefiting from something. His mercy is His goodness sending his son to be crucified for your wrongs. Nothing rational left to argue. He decides. He loved Jacob and hated Esau. no appearant reasoning behind it. just chosen and unchosen. That is humbling nothing you can do but receive mercy. Gods mercy to Jacob as example for being merciful to the lost. Like Jacob was chosen before essau because of God's choice. Jacob had to fight God and beg a blessing, essau could not care less, he was just hungry. Is not that what morality IS, – MERCY from God in Jacobs struggle for blessings while totally failing – because of higher ethics only God understood. The wisdom of being humble because grace is nothing to work for. I am amazed that this outrages anyone who thinks his morals and ideas are higher than that of God. Man is like grass his goodness fades like a flower when God breaths over it with his spirit. Jesaja 40

  63. Tango Kalim says:

    great man, great thought, wow

  64. 高驰 says:

    Suddenly felt like I am watching his "justice" in the giant Harvard hall when he was giving the lecture

  65. Haannibal777 says:

    Boy, he was giving this lecture in 2010. I wonder if he has totally lost faith in the human race after 2016.

  66. Abdulmalik says:

    This man is great

  67. mrigendra kumar prajapati says:

    Anyone… please let me know…did Mr. Sandel's dream project took off …. ?? I didn't hear about anything like that happening in India what he proposed… it was 7 years back so i might be missing something.. !!

  68. AnonymousBlacks says:


  69. WEISHUO LU says:

    中文翻譯有些錯誤:把take on錯翻成「採取」,應該是「挑戰」才對。把objectable錯翻成「客觀的」,應該是「可反對的」才對。最大的錯是把athletic status翻譯成「比賽的地位」,應該是「運動式的狀態」才對,這邊翻譯錯後面會面會看不懂。What ways of thinking about justice and morality underlie the argument we have over marriage 應該是「我們是以哪一種方式思考關於婚姻的論證之下的正義與道德?」才對,他卻翻譯成「涉及正義與道德爭議之下,關於婚姻」,差別是Sandel想問的是「我們如何思考正義與道德?」,而翻譯完全沒有翻出這個意思。

  70. Doris Kam says:

    Unfortunately, before any democratic debates could possibly be happening, any remarks that go against the pre-established political agenda is out of the question. The more I put myself on the path to learn more about justice and reasoning, the more helpless I sometimes feel. Optimism of the will, I suppose. That's why listening to this man is almost a source of consolation to me. Thank you, Mr. Sandel!

  71. Ali Murteza Hyder says:

    more of suckin up to medieval philosophies which are totally outdated bring something new

  72. anjum afreen says:

    Sir, I am your biggest fan.. and your though for a "global classroom"..!! incredible ☺👍would love to be a part of such larger ambition..

  73. Sujan Neupane says:

    Justice means giving people what they deserve 🙂 –

  74. Jose Carvajal says:

    Retoric, beutiful bur useless retoric.

  75. Alex K. says:

    And 7 years later the US got Trump.

  76. Karl Pages says:

    global classrooms..More popular every day.

  77. BaconNBeer says:

    I discovered Michael Sandel today on the Steve Paikin . He is stunningly delusional.

  78. Deus Vult says:

    "Justice is actually giving God what is God's and Ceasar what is Ceasar's". Marriage is an institution created by God and only He can decide its Essentials. It is NOT an issue open to democratic discussion and general consensus. You cannot have a baby just bc you WANT to. You are NOT God to give the best flute to the best flute player… you are not God, you must play by His rules bc He is the creator of marriage and of its essentials.As a man, you cannot give birth to a baby for as much as you vote in favor of it. You can argue, decide democratically, and change the essentials of anything as it pleases your fancy but in the end, you will be accountable to God for all Eternity for your actions and for having mislead so many people by using "logical arguments" to push your personal interpretation of the most sacred institutions created by God.

  79. angel ortega says:

    Can someone summarize the key points for me

  80. anmol kumar Thakur says:

    Salute to your idea sir and we are really benifinting from your thoughts

  81. Talyta Barcelos says:


  82. suke koro says:


  83. 100pcRenewables says:

    I'm with Justice Scalia's reasoning except I'd still let the guy take a golf cart because one can infer that the greats say the walking is important because they're sensitive about the lack of athleticism in their game – just because people who play games do not accept there's no purpose except amusement doesn't mean it's not true – I mean probably there is something more to it but whatever they claim does not make it fact. But there are so many assumptions here: It's assumed everyone agrees on the best flutes and the best flautists and that the best music is, of course, the most desirable. Seriously, I find this totally ridiculous.

  84. Liz Delilo says:

    how can I enjoy the global discussions by video meeting?

  85. Srinivasan Reghuraman says:

    That was one heck of a passionate talk by Professor Sandel. Enjoyed it thoroughly.

  86. INDIAN Dhananjay Munde says:

    Sir you are great Sir can I meet you Sir I really want to meet you Sir please visit india

  87. Ryan Barclay says:

    If you don't think golf takes athletics, you don't play. Get out there and play 18 on a hot sunny day and try saying that again with a straight face.

  88. William Lee says:

    I'm trying to relate the flute analogy to say… money. Well what is money good for, its purpose? For the exchange of goods and services. What qualities and excellences, connected to the exchange of goods and services, are worthy of our recognition and honor when it comes to money? Making a lot of it? Using it for the most good?

    For the former, this could defend people's retention of wealth or argue against a system of redistribution if those who get wealthy would indeed be "good" at making more of it. For the latter, it could defend giving all the money to the state, a group of people, or even a single person who could use it for the most good for society. Either way, Aristotle's teleological method of justice seems to run into a face-value weirdness when it comes to money and capital.

  89. Dodge Thompson says:

    I feel like this guy overlooked the question, what is the purpose of a golf cart?

  90. james clarke says:

    He speaks nothing about ‘tradition.’
    The 800 pound fat woman in the room.
    A pud with an agenda…

  91. Sukanta Sahoo says:

    Amazing.This should be in our school syllabus in India instead of fairy tales like Mahabharat, Ramayan, etc.

  92. Piyush Misra says:

    Bringing in moral consequence or background of something under debate leads to harmonising the views because we become capable of knowing that why the debate exist at first place and often differing views are result of ignorance about different view points. It saves policy makers from wasting time on immaterial questions.

  93. nameunselected says:

    Brilliant man

  94. Jiminy Cricket says:

    Everything should be decided in the Thunderdome.

  95. Alfred De Souza says:

    🌏💡🇺🇸👑🇬🇧👍:”#MichaelSandelGlobalReveredPowerfulVisionaryAcademicIn21st.CenturyProgressivePeacefulThrivingDEMOCRATICCompoundingWorldOfGiftsForUs! A Reflection; #GlobalFreedomOfReligiousTolerancesWithoutAmputationsAndStoningsToDeaths!#StopAllAspectsOfJudicialExecutions!#Leading🌏💡🇬🇧👑👏🙏:#DeliverAlternativeDeterrentJudicialVisionaryCustodialDemocraticExemplaryJusticesToSaveLivesAtEducationalCornerstonesWithVisionaryReleasesAlwaysPoweredByCompoundingProfessionalRehabilitationCascadesAndMonitoringEvenTechnologicalTagsRestraintsToPreventAnyRe-Offenders!#RingsOfSteel!#WeCanWalkWorkEatAtSocialAndFamiliesFriends!#LeaveNoOneBehind!Subtending #MoralConvictionsEngagementsToChangeAspectsOfHugelyChallengingWorldForTheBetter! #AllBornEqualInHugeAboveUnquestionableAmazingCreationsOfAllLivingFormsFaunasRiversOceansLandscapesWithAmazingFoodChainsThatEmbraceCarnivorousHerbivorousOmnivorousFoodChains!#MultipleChoices! RESPECTS&THANKSGIVINGS!#LeaveNoOneBehind!#LetAboveSunShinesForUsMortalSoulsOnEarthAndTransitional!#JudgeNoOne!#JesusOnTheCross🌏💡💕👶🙅‍♂️💝🎉👏🙏:(. RESPECTS&THANKSGIVINGS!

  96. sdozer1990 says:

    That's hilarious.The debate between Charlie and Warren got a little slippery there. Someone needs to do something about the law saying that the argument of what the essential nature is is enough to give unfair advantage to players in sports in connection to what is clearly proven to be related to what the essential nature is. Saying the essential nature of a sport is to put a ball through a hole means the essential nature is therefore to win. But, if disabled people were given amenities which would comfort them throughout the game, they would receive an unfair advantage, that is they would win more, over those without those amenities, meaning each player would need those amenities to win, that is to carry out the essential nature of the sport. I'm sorry but no one is entitled to win at sports.

  97. sdozer1990 says:

    I'm sorry Mr Sandel, it's not only "letting golfers use" but "requiring golfers use" golf carts.

  98. Gary Johnson says:

    Good idea, however the problem is with those in power, power never gives up power, just as those who own rental units aren’t interested in anything except the rent and the current laws give whoever the right to evict, even if the renters have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. So the laws favor the wealthy, those who own everything and do not need to work, they can give their kids a unfair advantage in life. In society where we are judge by what we own (vehicles, land, properity, etc) and the groups we belong to, give us prestige, respect and power… thank you

  99. Ragin' Cajun says:

    Beijing, Mumbai, global classroom. Well, one of these places would censor the crap out of him… Key hint, of lecture, the lost art of DEMOCRATIC debate.

  100. 和真 says:


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