Sunday, October 3, 2010

Justice: What's the right thing to do?

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ethical philosophy has attempted through the ages to define the parameters by which society should operate. Sandel, a charismatic and articulate Harvard professor, uses some of the most iconic philosophical viewpoints to examine the concept of justice. Through a utilitarian or virtue ethics lens, Sandel delves into current controversy, suggesting the pros and cons of the way each lens wields its judgment.

While the book occasionally drags, the ideas are well presented, well explained. The "so what" factor that Sandel uses to make his final argument for how society should define justice is brilliant. Personal time constraints do not allow for a full discussion, but I will leave you with the Bobby Kennedy quote that Sandel includes in the concluding pages-- It's life changing and absolutely deserves further discussion.
Our Gross National Product now is over 800 billion dollars a year. But that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts…the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the Gross National Product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud to be Americans. ~Robert Kennedy – March 1968

It's life changing and absolutely deserves further discussion. There's so much more that we can do to make this world more just, more inhabitable for our children and our families.

ps. I really do love that quote. Kennedy said over forth years ago, and yet it is exactly what is wrong with what we worry about as a country....Wish that great man had a chance to lead and inspire from the White House.

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