Michael J. Sandel's Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? offers a comprehensive exploration of essential questions that we face in today's world: from affirmative action to moral limits on markets, from same-sex marriage, physician-assisted suicide, abortion, and how we promote enrollment into military service.
As to the title, it could just as easily be called Ethics; this is not necessarily a treatise on merely social justice or law. Nor does Sandel give his readers a final statement on what is the right thing to do in each of these issues. (Although in several cases he does make clear what direction he favors.) Justice explores a variety of perspectives (e.g., Utilitarianism, Libertarianism, Communitarianism) from which to view these situations, and a reasonable explanation of each is given. Sandel also examines these issue through the philosophies of Kant, Rawls, and Aristotle. In a sense, the book is a primer on the development and articulation of secular morality.
This is not a theological treatment of these issues, but a philosophical one. Nor is it done from a Christian perspective. Yet, whatever one's faith, this book asks important questions that cannot be ignored forever. Religion, and particularly the morality of Judeo-Christianity, is impossible to leave out of the picture entirely when considering justice and ethics, as Sandel emphasizes in the book.
This book was referenced by Timothy Keller in Generous Justicewhen discussing the common tendency among secularists to push for religion to be excluded from any politics or promotion of justice. Sandel is out of the ordinary in this instance, as is Keller, to a degree, in his promoting working alongside non-believers as we try to promote justice--an earthly picture of eventual, eternal shalom.
In his fascinating book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg explores the science of habits inside and out. A combination of neuroscience, sociology, and psychology, the book looks at dimensions and dynamics of habits that include brain abnormalities, habit training, and how others effect our habits.
Using the habit as key, Duhigg unlocks how an overeating, chain-smoking, spendthrift woman is transformed into an marathon-running, non-smoking, hard-working woman a mere two years later. The same key shows why a man with serious brain-damage was able to live functionally for nearly 15 years as a daily amnesiac. And more personally, why we ourselves do certain things and how we can train ourselves to discover how we can use habits as a helpful tool.
Duhigg organizes the books into three divisions of habits: the habits of individuals, organizations, and societies, making up 9 chapters:
Part One: The Habits of Individuals 1. The Habit Loop: How Habits Work 2. The Craving Brain: How to Create New Habits 3. The Golden Rule of Habit Change: Why Transformation Occurs
Part Two: The Habits of Successful Organizations 4. Keystone Habits, or the Ballad of Paul O'Neill: Which Habits Matter Most 5. Starbucks and the Habit of Success: When Willpower Becomes Automatic 6. The Power of a Crisis: How Leaders Create Habits Through Accident and Design 7. How Target Knows What You Want Before You Do: When Companies Predict (and Manipulate) Habits
Part Three: The Habits of Societies 8. Saddleback Church and the Montgomery Bus Boycott: How Movements Happen 9. The Neurology of Free Will: Are We Responsible for Our Habits?
Readers who have enjoyed books such asNurture Shock, Emotional Intelligence, Spark, Blink, or other similar "the new science of ___" titles will likely greatly appreciate The Power of Habit. But so might anyone curious about how habits form, how to change their own habits, or wondering why they can't seem to make or break new or old habits.
I began this book after realizing I wished to add a few more books to this year's reading that are on the current bestseller lists (currently #8 on Amazon's list). Of course, this is a subject that already fascinates me, so it was an enjoyable read.
The author discusses habits in this brief, but interesting video: