CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Under the arched ceiling of a historical theater, a wood-paneled space both lofty and intimate, Harvard University students gathered on a recent evening to debate the ethics of artificial intelligence. Michael Sandel, a well-known professor of political philosophy, stepped lightly across the stage and encouraged students to disagree.
Hands shot up. The goal is not consensus, Sandel said later — and the lessons are particularly important now. “We’re steeped in toxic public discourse. So it’s especially important for colleges and universities to provide a civic education in listening, reasoning and arguing about big questions that matter.”