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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The allocation of honor and recognition

I saw that the Harvard philosophy class on Justice taught by Michael Sandel has been squished into a one hour talk at - Michael Sandel on Justice: A Journey in Moral Reasoning. What's interesting is that he mainly talks about what Aristotle thinks justice is and he brings up contemporary issues like same-sex marriage. Why should we care what Aristotle thought? I care because I like Greek history, but if you're Catholic, you might care because Thomas Aquinas so hijacked - oops, I mean embraced :) - Aristotle's philosophy, and the church in turn has so embraced Thomas' theology.

If I understood what Michael Sandel said correctly, Aristotle believed that justice is about the allocation of honor and recognition gained through virtue - a person is given what they deserve based on the match between the purpose of what is given and the person being given it. The question that arises is what's the purpose or end or goal of the thing at stake. In the case of marriage, if you believe the purpose of such is love and mutual commitment extended over time (as I do), then you'd be ok with the state allocating honor and recognition to same-sex marriage.

Here's the part of the video where he begins speaking about Aristotle .......


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