An exceptionally good hour spent watching this episode on two very different subjects – both of which made me re-asses my current positions which is about as good as you can get.
The first half was on conscription. Professor Sandel stated off by discussing conscription at the time of American Civil War – when those who were nominated could pay someone else to take their place. This was, very elegantly, compared by a student to today’s situation where economic disparity means that, by paying taxes, we pay poorer people in our nations to fight for us. The ethical stances ran the gamut from: If the objective is to win the military situation why not pay anyone (including foreign mercenaries) to fight for us – to: If the military action is in the vital need of all people of the nation then, by all people being equal part of the nation via the social contract, surely their should be a draft lottery? One student added – if there was a lottery for every overseas conflict then political pressure would lead to a lot fewer conflicts.
The second half was on surrogacy and the Baby M case. I was appalled at how cavalier many people in the audience were with the concept of treating a human being as property right up to the suggestion of having open auctions for children up for adoption. Previously I thought that the concept of surrogacy was a valid was for a non-fertile couple to have a child. However, I have come to the conclusion following this that a human being is never property and therefore, regardless of the parentage of the child, any contract outlining exchange of cash for a baby is automatically invalid.