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Season 2009 Episode 11.11.09

Whats a Fair Start? What Do We Deserve?

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Whats a Fair Start? What Do We Deserve?
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Lecture Fifteen: "What's a Fair Start?" John Rawls applied his "veil of ignorance" theory to social and economic equality issues, as well as fair governance. He asks, if every citizen had to weigh in on the issue of redistributive taxation -- without knowing whether they would end up as one of the poor or one of the wealthy members of society -- wouldn't most of us prefer to eliminate our financial risks and agree to an equal distribution of wealth? Lecture Sixteen: "What Do We Deserve?" Professor Sandel recaps the three different theories raised so far, concerning how income, wealth, and opportunities in life should be distributed. He summarizes libertarianism, the meritocratic system, and the egalitarian theory. This leads to a discussion of the fairness of pay differentials in today's society. Sandel compares the salary of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor ($200,000) with the salary of Judge Judy ($25 million). Sandel asks, is this fair? And if not, why not? Sandel explains how John Rawls believes that personal "success" is more often a function of arbitrary issues for which we can claim no credit: luck, genetic good fortune, positive family circumstances. But what of effort -- the individual who strives harder and longer to succeed -- how should hisher "effort" be valued?moreless
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