8. Limits of the Neoclassical Synthesis

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Moral Foundations of Politics (PLSC 118)

Although the harm principle as introduced in the last lecture seems straightforward at first glance, today Professor Shapiro discusses its ambiguities. If it "must be calculated to produce evil to someone else," who will be doing the calculations? Second, what does "calculated" mean? Does committing harm imply mens rea, or should strict liability be observed? The class discusses such issues as prostitution, free trade, same-sex marriage, statutory rape, Good Samaritan laws, marital rape, discrimination, and tort adjudication (specifically the 1950s case on thalidomide). Professor Shapiro concludes that in calculating harm, one must make political choices, which places the Enlightenment ideal of replacing politics with science in jeopardy.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Ambiguity in Mill's Harm Principle
13:23 - Chapter 2. Variation in the Definition of Harm
24:23 - Chapter 3. The Redefinition of Harm: Thalidomide Example
32:03 - Chapter 4. The Redefinition of Harm: Marital Rape Example
35:01 - Chapter 5. The Redefinition of Harm: Discrimination Example
40:25 - Chapter 6. Politics Will Be Replaced by Administration

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses

This course was recorded in Spring 2010.