PPLE Student Jiří Münich
Class of 2017
In his first semester, PPLE student Jiří Münich wrote an essay that was published in an academic journal. How did that happen?
'My (mini) essay dealt with the concept of social justice in the Czech republic, which is where I'm from, and it appeared in a Czech academic journal. The topic was social justice and of course my approach was interdisciplinary. We had just finished courses in 'Law, Justice and Morality' and 'Beyond Hierarchy', so I applied what I learned from those courses, for example the Rawlsian concept of the social contract, to the situation in the Czech republic.'
Defining social justice and the means to achieve it
'The term social justice is often associated with left or liberal leaning political groups, but it really is an ethical matter that pertains to people of all persuasions. Over the past 25 years, the Czech Republic went through a transition from communism to liberal pluralism. However, the ideological way of thinking somehow survived, although many groups replaced the communist dogma with others, often libertarian. Many people think that the social sciences can provide answers to ethical questions (or the other way round), but they often confuse philosophy with science.
In my essay, I made a distinction between defining social justice and defining the means to achieve it. There are many ways to achieve your goals, but what is really just? Do we strive for the greatest good for the greatest number, do ends justify means?
I wanted to focus on the institutions that need to be involved. Parliament and the democratic system should be involved in defining goals, but they should not be involved in evaluating the means: politicians and the public can agree on what ought to be achieved, but they are not specialists in defining how. Instead, a professional bureaucratic apparatus should serve to produce specific policies. At the same time, we need to educate the public in the social sciences and philosophical reasoning, and train them in the humanitarian field, to empower them to get actively involved in setting the agenda.'
Different aspects of societal issues
Jiří leans toward choosing Psychology as his major, but he is happy to get a foundation in political science, law, and economics as well. 'I love to read and learn about different aspects of societal issues. Some of my favorite books are "The Political Brain" by Drew Westen, and "The Righteous Mind" by Jonathan Haidt. Both books creatively apply psychology to issues of politics. I also love works of I.D. Yalom. My focus within the PPLE programme has been on the psychology and economics. That is why I am especially looking forward to the second semester courses on 'Decision Making' and 'Economics, Markets and Organisations.'