Daniel's Reviews > Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?

Justice by Michael J. Sandel
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Sep 21, 10

bookshelves: philosophy
Read from September 12 to 21, 2010

This book takes provocative moral hypotheticals as a starting point for discussions about different approaches to moral reasoning in the Western philosophical tradition. The author does a very fine job of summarizing utilitarianism, libertarianism, Rawlsian liberal theory and a more classical Aristotelian method, and he is careful to point out the obvious problems with each approach the the likely retorts of advocates. I found his discussion of certain contemporary issues in our public moral-legal sphere very interesting, in part because he discusses aspects that I hardly hear mooted in what passes for 'debate' these days. For example, in most of the rhetoric surrounding gay marriage, few people have seriously raised the question of the purposes behind our legal framework of marriage or the very reasonable third option of the 'disestablishment' of marriage as a state interest. I think the book suffers a bit from being a course-turned-book, because the author does a much better job of taking a tour of approaches than he does in (eventually) defending his own blend of Aristotle and Rawls. He is a good writer, though, and I look forward to such a defense for the general reader.
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