What would you do if you were the driver of a trolley gone out of control and barreling right toward five workers in its path? You could take a sidetrack where there was only one worker working and spare the lives of the five. Would you do that? Was the Supreme Court correct in allowing disabled golfer Casey Martin to use a golf cart? Should the best flautist get the best flute? These and other questions formed the basis of a riveting lecture by Harvard University professor and author of “Justice: What’s the Right Thing To Do?” at the Festival of the Arts Wednesday night. Michael Sandel challenged the audience to examine the moral and ethical assumptions underlying these issues (in addition to other hotly debated political and social issues) in a way that was interactive, engaging, playful and thought-provoking. 

It was an evening that showed exactly why Sandel’s popular course, "Justice," has enrolled more than 15,000 students, and it was the kind of experience that made you want to go back to school this instant—if you could be in his course. Did this affable ethicist give any definitive answers to the moral quandaries he posed? Not exactly. But his exercise with audience concluded with his suggestion that the way toward a more functional civic life would be to directly grapple with the big moral questions behind the issues that divide us. “This would not necessarily lead to agreement,” he says, “ but elevate the terms of a civic life and engender more respect” in the process.

In short, he said to be good citizens means we also need to sometimes be philosophers.

What a great lecture from a great man--and another home run by the people who bring us the Festival of the Arts.

 

Coming up this weekend:

TONIGHT

March 14, 7:30 p.m.

Concert: Cameron Carpenter, organ; Constantine Kitsopoulos, conductor & Festival Music Director;  Boca Raton Symphonia   

Amphitheater

FRIDAY

March 15, 7:30 p.m.

Concert: Valentina Lisitsa, piano;  Peter Oundjian, conductor; New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy    

Amphitheater 

SATURDAY

Saturday, March 16,  7:30 p.m.

Audra McDonald in Concert   

Amphitheater

For information, call 561/368-8445 ; for tickets, call 866/571-ARTS (866/571-2787)