Episode 3 – Our Society

Interviewees Liz Anderson and John Thrasher examine how society should be organised and wrestle with conflicting libertarian and egalitarian points of view.

Teacher Notes

Content overview

This episode is focussed on the questions arising from our attempts to apply ethical principles and concepts to social institutions. It explores the dilemma of egalitarian and libertarian philosophies, questioning whether the ethical concept of justice is best understood through the concept of equality, or of freedom. It distinguishes between different types of freedom (positive and negative) and explores the social benefits which can arise from restricting or regulating some individual freedoms.

Links to Ethical Capability

• Explore the contested meaning of concepts including freedom, justice, and rights and responsibilities, and the extent they are and should be valued by different individuals and groups (VCECU014)

• Investigate the connections and distinctions between and the relative value of concepts including fairness and equality, and respect and tolerance (VCECU019)
• Investigate how different factors involved in ethical decision-making can be managed by people and groups (VCECD023)

Complementary curricula

Civics and Citizenship
VCE Global Politics
VCE Legal Studies (Unit 3)
VCE Sociology

HSC Legal Studies
HSC Society and Culture

Questions and discussion points

  1. Is freedom fundamental to justice, or is equality fundamental to justice? How do we resolve the conflict between these two apparently opposing ethical perspectives?
  2. How would society operate if all of our freedoms were completely unrestricted?
  3. When should we consider our government’s exercise of power (as in the example of the bike helmets) a threat to personal liberty?