Justice: What's The Right Thing To Do? Episode 05: "HIRED GUNS" | Summary and Q&A

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September 8, 2009
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Harvard University
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Justice: What's The Right Thing To Do? Episode 05: "HIRED GUNS"

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Summary

This video discusses the role of consent in the political authority and the moral implications of market exchanges in human reproduction. It explores the ideas of philosopher John Locke and delves into the question of whether the government has the right to conscript individuals for military service. The video also presents a case study on commercial surrogacy and the ethical considerations involved.

Questions & Answers

Q: What are the limits on government that even the agreement of the majority can't override according to Locke?

According to Locke, the limits on government that cannot be overridden by the agreement of the majority are related to property rights. While a democratically elected government has the right to tax its citizens, it cannot take a penny of an individual's money arbitrarily. The consent given to join the society and be bound by the majority is what matters, and this consent is powerful enough to limit the government.

Q: Can the government conscript people and send them into battle according to Locke?

Yes, according to Locke, the government has the right to conscript people and send them into battle. However, it is important that the political or military authority is not arbitrary. While the government can command soldiers to engage in dangerous situations or even condemn them to death for desertion, it cannot take their money arbitrarily. Consent to join the government and be bound by the majority is what matters to Locke.

Q: What are the arguments for and against the civil war system of conscription and buyout provision?

One argument in favor of the civil war system is that individuals have the freedom to choose whether to serve or not. They can hire a substitute to take their place, and this allows those who do not want to serve to find an alternative. On the other hand, some argue that the buyout provision places a price on valuing human life, which is difficult to determine. It is also seen as a kind of coercion, particularly for individuals with lower incomes who may not have the means to find a substitute.

Q: What are the arguments for and against the use of markets in human reproduction, specifically egg donation and commercial surrogacy?

One argument in favor of using markets in human reproduction is that it allows for greater choice and freedom. It can provide financial incentives for individuals to participate and increases the availability of reproductive services. However, there are objections to the use of markets in these areas. Some argue that the consent given by individuals may not be truly free, as there may be coercion or lack of adequate information. Others argue that these markets dehumanize the process of reproduction, turning it into a transaction where certain goods, such as a mother's bond with her child, are undervalued.

Q: What were the court's decisions in the cases of commercial surrogacy and the baby M case?

In the baby M case, the lower court ruled that the contract between the surrogate mother and the couple was enforceable. However, the New Jersey Supreme Court overturned this ruling and stated that the contract was not enforceable. They granted custody to the father but restored the rights of the surrogate mother, considering the profit motive and the bond between a mother and her child as important factors in the decision.

Takeaways

This video raises important questions about the limits of government and the moral implications of market exchanges in human reproduction. It explores the concept of consent in political authority and the challenges posed by conscripting individuals for military service. The case study on commercial surrogacy highlights the issues surrounding the commodification of reproductive capacities and the role of money in such transactions. The arguments of tainted consent, dehumanization, and the value of certain goods beyond mere use are significant considerations when assessing the ethics of market exchanges.

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