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Lecture 6

SOSC 3375 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: The Good Life, Liberal Democracy, Unit


Department
Social Science
Course Code
SOSC 3375
Professor
Tanja Juric
Lecture
6

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OUR LEARNING OBJECTIVES
1) Recognize how justice, even of the variety offered by John Rawls, requires
community or the interaction with others in order to be coherent
2) See how remaining neutral is difficult, if not impossible, particularly when considering
issues such as same-sex marriage, abortion, etc, that may collide with one’s own
personal beliefs or those of our community
JUSTICE AND THE GOOD LIFE
Clarifies his objection to liberal forms of justice, but offers his own communitarian-
informed counterproposal
Sandal claims that justice only makes sense if it is formulated, supported, and defended
through community and dialogue
Needs a participatory form of justice
o Especially when considering issues like same-sex marriage or abortion to which
many individuals may object on religious or moral grounds
The only way to ensure that we are able to articulate and cultivate a shared sense of the
good life is if we:
o Commit to an engaged and informed approach to justice
o Which allows us to debate and discuss these controversial issues
Focus on the reasons Sandel gives for shifting from a strictly individualist approach to
justice to one that is embedded or communitarian in orientation
IS COMMUNITARIAN AGAINST THE INDIVIDUAL?
Rights of the group vs the rights of the individual
o Sandel tells us that it can’t be either or
o If we just focus on the individual,
No
o Sandel acknowledges that we are distinct individuals first then cooperate with
others second (to choose ends, values, etc)
o “We are distinct individuals first, and then we form relationships and engage in
co-operative arrangements with others; hence the priority of plurality over unity”
HOW DO WE FORMULATE “THE GOOD LIFE”?
We often think of justice and fairness as rational (not influenced by emotion or personal
ties), but Sandel suggest that this view is:
o Unrealistic, and
o A disservice to cultivating a sense of the good life that necessarily share with
others
Why would he see it as unrealistic? Or a disservice to exclude emotion from
consideration of justice and fairness?
o Things happen in life where we do our best to settle for events - it’s unrealistic to
expect life to go through each step as some kind of formula
Why does Sandel assume that ‘The Good Life’ is one that is shared with others?
o To create a participatory system, it reflects more of the needs and values of
society
o We need a support system
THE ‘BIG QUESTION’ SANDEL RAISES FOR US
What is the role of the community in formulating the notions of:
o The good life
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