Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? - Michael J. Sandel

What It Is: 

This book is a foray into the philosophical world of defining justice. Before reading this book, if you asked me if I understood my morality or definition of justice I would probably say that I was about 80-85% certain of how I felt about these issues. After reading this book, I am probably down to about 65-70% confident. Michael Sandel does a wonderful job giving simple scenarios to help explain and differentiate from theories of justice like utilitarianism and libertarianism (where the book starts). 

Being honest, I need to give this book another read and I should have been taking notes. It felt like the theories get more complex as the book progressed and he talked about differing philosophers/philosophies within some of the theories. I think it will be helpful to be able to classify peoples viewpoints about justice, pay closer attention to their interpretations of them, and to have substantive discussions from there.

Why I read it:

It was recommended by one of my more intellectual friends who also has a lot more knowledge than me on most topics. Okay, he’s smarter than me and a better arguer!

Why It Stands Out:

I would call this book “functional philosophy.” Justice seems to be one of the major issues of our time, so it only makes sense to understand our own definition of it, and to recognizing when publicized or politicized people are perverting a theory.

Sandel puts it better when he says, “A politics of moral engagement is not only a more inspiring ideal than a politics of avoidance. It is also a more promising basis for a just society” (Loc4202).

A Relavant Quote:

“Too great a gap between rich and poor undermines the solidarity that democratic citizenship requires. Here’s how: As inequality depends, rich and poor live increasingly separate lives” (Loc4164).