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Michael Sandel: The lost art of democratic debate

Democracy thrives on civil debate, Michael Sandel says — but we’re shamefully out of practice. He leads a fun refresher, with TEDsters sparring over a recent Supreme Court case (PGA Tour, Inc. v. Martin) whose outcome reveals the critical ingredient in justice.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Featured speakers have included Al Gore on climate change, Philippe Starck on design, Jill Bolte Taylor on observing her own stroke, Nicholas Negroponte on One Laptop per Child, Jane Goodall on chimpanzees, Bill Gates on malaria and mosquitoes, Pattie Maes on the “Sixth Sense” wearable tech, and “Lost” producer JJ Abrams on the allure of mystery. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and TEDTalks cover these topics as well as science, business, development and the arts. Closed captions and translated subtitles in a variety of languages are now available on, at Watch a highlight reel of the Top 10 TEDTalks at


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  1. Sandel's proposition faced the same problem of Socrates' persuit in The Republic, human are flawed, so the state of human is impossible of running in an ideal condition. Most of people are not patient and rational enough to understand the debates of these deep philosophy problems. So no matter how reasonable and logical the precedure of the discusion is, if they dont like the outcome of the discussion at the first place, they wont bother to give it try of taking a second thought, not to mention of looking the discussion without pre-decision.

  2. Very interesting and engaging. He deserves praise.

  3. His class is the most interesting, most helpful, most fun class I have ever had since I came to this world.

  4. I would love to watch a game of football with this guy.

  5. 民主的議論と自由は異なる示現だからこそ提案と同様に議論とは異なる提示を示す必要があるからこそ国民的議論や地域の人々の権利が成り立つのでは?

  6. Jeetje, wat hebben we mensen zoals hij nodig in deze tijd van lompe, domme onnadenkendheid. Ik prijs me gelukkig Michael Sandel op de Nederlandse televisie gezien te hebben. Goede, mooie debatten met jonge mensen.

  7. I love and enjoy his conferences…

  8. Here after His Justice lectures

  9. Love this guy

  10. 感谢译者,感谢ted

  11. Once a lecturer, always a lecturer. It was amazing to see how he managed to keep the audience rapt with attention. And more heart-warmingly, these past 20 minutes looked like a college reunion in all its nostalgia – the many adults sitting together once more for another lecture again. As if they simply were the undergraduates most undoubtly had once been.

  12. Pleasure to watch this legendary man. Love from India. Indian politician need some knowledge

  13. How we could know, who are the best flute players, to give them the best flutes? Aristotle just says give to them, without any suggestion how we do recorgnize them! So that Aristotle says is not proven! But anyway the world has not make any advance since we even today should take in consideration what Aristotle have sayed long time ago.

  14. Please do so as China desperately needs this kind of talk.

  15. He is brilliant!

  16. He sounds like Socrates

  17. A huge obstacle for democratic debate I see in this day & age , it’s the so called “political correctness”

  18. He’s a great thinker indeed

  19. I was making the same comment to my philosophy professor a few days ago on the lost art of democratic debate . He agreed

  20. As liberal egalitarian I have to recognize Sandel is a philosophical monster.

  21. I really love this guy. He discusses things with substance. This is almost the same discussion that he had inside the Harvard Hall in his class.

  22. 伝統的な男女の結婚を遵守するべきだと主張する人が皆が皆結婚の目的と価値は子供を作ることだけだと考えているわけではない。これは悪質な印象操作だ。

  23. 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.

  24. 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

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

  26. 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.

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

  28. Everything should be decided in the Thunderdome.

  29. Brilliant man

  30. 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.

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

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

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

  34. 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.

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