Justice: what is the Right Thing to Do? by Michael J. Sandel (Book Review)

  • Ankit Zodge
  • August 12, 2020

Content :

AUTHOR: Michael J. Sandel
TITLE: Justice: what is the Right Thing to Do?
Genre: Philosophy / Ethics & philosophy


• Doing the proper thing
• the best happiness principle: Utilitarianism
• will we own ourselves? : Libertarianism
• Hired help: Markets and morals
• What matters is that the motive: philosopher
• The case for equality: John Rawls
• Arguing social action
• Who deserves what? : Aristotle
• What can we owe one another? : Dilemmas of loyalty
• Justice and therefore the good.

PRICE: US $16.50 /INR ₹250.16
NAME OF PUBLICATION HOUSE: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2009
NO. OF PAGES: 320 pages.


Hard cases may make bad law, but in Michael Sandel\'s hands they produce some cool philosophy. The course on justice that he\'s been teaching at Harvard for the past 30 years has made him one in all the foremost popular teachers within the world. But he doesn\'t accompany the flow of fashion or common opinion. As a self-styled "communitarian", he sets himself at odds with one in every of the reigning assumptions of contemporary public life – that moral and spiritual notions are private matters that ought to be kept out of public political debate.

His communitarians is simply too collectivist for kneejerk conservatives and too paternalistic for kneejerk radicals, but he matches his sharp and combative mind with a mild and likable manner. If you heard his Reith Lectures you will get drifted at his appeals for a replacement citizenship founded on a politics of the commonweal, but you\'ll be able to hardly have did not be charmed by his patience, openness and intellectual quality like kindness and generous.
Life is you may say, one damned dilemma after another. In his lectures he seen facts like, we are constantly trying to figure out what to try and do for the best: to marry or to not marry, to persevere in a very boring career or try something new, to save lots of fools from their folly or allow them to learn from mistakes. Sandel\'s routine is to present us with a controversy, help us identify the principles we appeal to in assessing our options then show us how hard it are often to urge them to line up and point within the same direction.


Michael J. Sandel\'s "Justice" course is one amongst the foremost popular and influential at Harvard. Up to one thousand students pack the campus theater to listen to Sandel relate the massive questions of political philosophy to the foremost vexing problems with the day, and this fall, public television will air a series supported the course. Justice offers readers the identical exhilarating journey that captivates Harvard students. This book could be a searching, lyrical exploration of the meaning of justice, one that invites readers of all political persuasions to contemplate familiar controversies in fresh and illuminating ways. social action, twosome, assisted suicide, abortion, service, patriotism and dissent, the moral limits of markets—Sandel dramatizes the challenge of thinking through these convicts’, and shows how a surer grasp of philosophy can help us add up of politics, morality, and our own convictions likewise. Justice is lively, thought-provoking, and wise—an essential new addition to the tiny shelf of books that talk convincingly to the hard questions of our civic life within the book of Justice, the premise begins with examples and cases which prompt the readers to require a stance on whether or not an injustice has occurred. These cases include problems with pricing (increasing prices within the face of great need, e.g. after a natural disaster) and of the recent bank bailouts. Having discussed the likely reactions that individuals must such cases, Sandel proposes 3 ways within which we could account for our beliefs about justice: (i) the thought that justice involves maximizing welfare, (ii) that it involves always respecting some aspect of personhood, and (iii) that ideas of justice involve ideas about promoting “The Good Life”.

Sandel includes a reputation for being a master of philosophical pedagogy, which he has developed over the last twenty years teaching one in all Harvard University’s hottest courses, also called Justice. Justice,is in effect, the companion textbook to the web course. Sandel covers the most important moral theories of Western civilization— Bentham’s utilitarianism, Robert Nozick’s libertarianism, Aristotle’s virtue theory, Kant’s moral principle, and John Rawls’ veil of ignorance—and presents case studies referring to patriotism and social action. He uses appropriate globe examples that ground the idea within the present day, giving otherwise dry theories contemporary importance. Consider, for instance, the well-known theoretical case study of the runaway trolley—which examines a number of the issues with utilitarianism and also the value of life. 


The scenario has many variations but it involves the selection between the death of 1 one that is typically innocent and therefore the deaths of the many more who is also less innocent. In June 2005, a bunch of 4 US Navy SEALs on secret patrol in Afghanistan were found by two unarmed Afghan goat herders and a boy. Sandel succinctly describes the SEAL’s ethical dilemma: On the one hand the goatherds seemed to be unarmed civilians. On the opposite hand, letting them go would run the danger that they might inform the Taliban of the presence of the U.S. soldiers because the four soldiers contemplated their options, they realized that they didn’t have any rope, so moorage the Afghans to permit time to seek out a replacement hideout wasn\'t feasible. the sole choice was to kill them or allow them to go free. The SEALs let the goat herders go free. An hour and a half later the SEALs were surrounded by around 100 Taliban fighters. Three of the four SEALs were killed and a U.S. rescue helicopter carrying sixteen soldiers was shot down moreover. In short, freeing the goat herders led to the deaths of 19 U.S. soldiers. this instance, and others, gives the book a grounded feel and practical edge lacking in other works of philosophy. Robert Nozick’s libertarianism gets a good treatment by outlining variety of key arguments for and against libertarian positions on self-ownership. 

The exception is that the final chapter within which Sandel’s own views come to the fore with references to John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Barack Obama. While the references are useful in illustrating the evolution of liberal thought in America from the liberal neutrality of JFK to the more faith-inclusive Obama, it seems more sort of a call to arms for American liberals to have interaction in moral debate with their conservative opponents. The brief diversion into Sandel’s politics, which he uses to form interesting points regarding philosophy’s impact on modern political problems like gay marriage, abortion and also the somatic cell debate, and also the broader problem of inequality, diminishes the even-handed tone of the preceding chapters.

The partisanship within the final chapter isn\'t enough to diminish the book as a full during this worldwide preferred book, there are four interesting parts which the author wants to research because the strength of the book they\'re the title, the content, the acknowledgment, and therefore the diction the author will start from the title first, within which entitled justice which relate to equality and fairness. The latter issue that becomes the strength of the book is that the acknowledgment the author finds many interesting testimonials completing the success of the book. After investigating the book holistically, the author finds two things that become the books weakness. Those are the paper used and also the setting of analogy of the book.


Sandel has produced a straightforward to know introduction into the key contributors to philosophy. Although anyone who has studied moral or political philosophy at the undergraduate level are going to be aware of the contents of Justice, they must not be dissuaded from reading it as a course or at the very least watching the net lectures. Those wanting an introduction to philosophy should devour this book. Justice may be a great philosophical book generally. it\'s proven by how global reaction took the table at the start of its launching which many philosophical enthusiasts found the book alone well-satisfying and vividly clear answering several philosophical values.

At the end, the author concludes that the book is quite worthy to shop for, especially if we are seeking for philosophical ideas generally and yearning for detailed explanations furthermore as understandable flow of debate.