"For Michael Sandel, justice is not a spectator sport," "The Nation"'s reviewer of "Justice "remarked. In his acclaimed book--based on his legendary Harvard course--Sandel offers a rare education in thinking through the complicated issues and controversies we face in public life today. It has emerged as a most lucid and engaging guide for those who yearn for a more robust and thoughtful public discourse. "In terms we can all understand," wrote Jonathan Rauch in "The New York Times," "Justice ""confronts us with the concepts that lurk . . . beneath our conflicts."
Affirmative action, same-sex marriage, physician-assisted suicide, abortion, national service, the moral limits of markets--Sandel relates the big questions of political philosophy to the most vexing issues of the day, and shows how a surer grasp of philosophy can help us make sense of politics, morality, and our own convictions as well.
"Justice "is lively, thought-provoking, and wise--an essential new addition to the small shelf of books that speak convincingly to the hard questions of our civic life.
Michael J. Sandel is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University, where he has taught since 1980, and the author of many books. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts. Michael J. Sandel's "Justice" course is one of the most popular and influential at Harvard. Up to a thousand students pack the campus theater to hear Sandel relate the big questions of political philosophy to the most vexing issues of the day. "Justice "offers readers the same journey that captivates Harvard students. This book is an exploration of the meaning of justice, one that invites readers of all political persuasions to consider familiar controversies in fresh and illuminating ways. What are our obligations to others as people in a free society? Should government tax the rich to help the poor? Is the free market fair? Is it sometimes wrong to tell the truth? Is killing sometimes morally required? Is it possible, or desirable, to legislate morality? Do individual rights and the common good conflict? "Justice "is thought-provoking and wise--an essential work that speaks convincingly to the hard questions of our civic life. Affirmative action, same-sex marriage, physician-assisted suicide, abortion, national service, patriotism and dissent, the moral limits of markets--Sandel dramatizes the challenge of thinking through these conflicts, and shows how a surer grasp of philosophy can help us make sense of politics, morality, and our own convictions as well. "Michael J. Sandel is one of this generation's most important philosophers because he combines a relentlessly inquiring spirit with a profound commitment to the idea of a common good. "Justice "is Sandel at his finest: no matter what your views are, his delightful style will draw you in, and he'll then force you to rethink your assumptions and challenge you to question accepted ways of thinking. But Sandel does not leave you marooned on an island of skepticism. He calls us to a better way of doing politics, and a more enriching way of living our lives."--E. J. Dionne, Jr.
"Using examples drawn from recent experience, Sandel explores a variety of approaches to theories of justice. Sandel reviews the cold calculation of Jeremy Bentham's utilitarianism (which asks which course of action will lead to the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people), to John Stuart Mill's more humane but more abstract approach to utilitarianism, with examples ranging from throwing Christians to the lions in Rome (hard on the Christian but served as entertainment for thousands and so arguably justifiable to utilitarians) to exploring the morality of torture in ticking-bomb scenarios (our former vice president will find this discussion of particular interest) . . . Sandel explores the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant (who explored the concept of duty as defining morality), John Rawls (who argued for a system of morality flowing from equality), and even Aristotle. But the ultimate aim here, appropriate to any college survey course, is to leave the reader with a range of different perspectives through which to view the world and the moral choices that we make. Sandel is at his best in weaving modern-day problems into convincing applications of competing theories of justice. He loses his footing, though, when he detours into the jargon of moral philosophy, at times testing a reader's patience (at least those not compelled to take notes or face end-of-semester consequences). But he concludes with a flourish: 'A just society can't be achieved simply by maximizing utility or by securing freedom of choice. To achieve a just society we have to reason together about the meaning of the good life, and to create a public culture hospitable to disagreements that will inevitably arise.' Quoting Robert F. Kennedy and President Obama, he argues that this approach to moral philosophy can and should have a real impact on our common good. For those seeking a short course through moral philosophy from a witty writer, fast on his feet, and nimble with his pen, this thin volume is difficult to beat."--Kevin J. Hamilton, "The Seattle Times "
"Reading "Justice" by Michael Sandel is an intoxicating invitation to take apart and examine how we arrive at our notions of right and wrong . . . Crisply written . . . A sly current of wit animates his new book and helps pry open our habitual ways of ordering the universe. Sandel plucks insights from the fiction of Ursula Le Guin and Kurt Vonnegut, and from a 13-year-old's decision to disqualify himself at a national spelling bee. Then, with gusto and exactitude, Sandel plunks the grid of Western political philosophy atop knotty contemporary issues. He takes up affirmative action, say, or a town in India that, in 2002, began advertising surrogacy for sale to infertile Western women--and lets the reader think afresh about the rights and obligations we