“Usually I teach by asking students questions,” Government Professor Michael J. Sandel said when he arrived at The Colbert Report last night.
“Fire away,” host Stephen Colbert returned, beginning a seven-minute exchange that focused on the core issues of justice in our world, from overpaid baseball stars to hypothetical cannibalism.
Sandel is most famous for his wildly popular course Ethical Reasoning 22: “Justice." A version of the course is available online as a series of TV episodes, a format that Sandel noted is especially popular in Asia. He is also the author of "Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?"
“What I’m trying to do in the book, in the course, and in the online series is to provoke and invite not only students, but also the public, to address our disagreements in a way that takes on these big questions," Sandel said.
Colbert’s sense of justice, however, might not be quite up to Sandel’s rigorous moral standards.
“I happen to think that the answer to ‘What is the right thing to do?’ is generally that thing that you least want to do,” Colbert said. “Is that anywhere on your equation?”
And when Sandel posed a classic justice question about the morality of cannibalism as a last resort of survival, Colbert mainly wanted to confirm if “he [was] delicious.”
Watch the entire segment here. You know you want to.