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Justice: A Reader Paperback – 27 Sep 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, U.S.A.; 1 edition (27 Sept. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195335120
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195335125
  • Product Dimensions: 25.4 x 3 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 366,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


Michael Sandel is one of the most popular and influential college professors in America. For more than twenty years, hundreds of students at a time have packed into a Harvard University lecture hall to hear his discourses on justice; and hundreds have streamed out feeling a surprisingly personal connection with their gifted teacher. This book reveals Sandel's secret recipe for enthralling students with timeless questions of law, justice, and morality in a decidedly contemporary context. (Anita L. Allen, Professor of Philosophy and Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School)

This thoughtful, stimulating, and convenient collection brings a range of classic moral and political philosophers (from Aristotle to John Stuart Mill)

This outstanding collection successfully blends historical and contemporary thought, on issues of theoretical and practical importance, to illuminate the main problems of justice. It is accessible to undergraduates in philosophy, with breadth and depth enough to engage the experienced philosophical reader hoping to rethink some central debates. (Michele Moody-Adams, Director and Hutchinson Professor of Ethics and Public Life, Cornell University)

About the Author

Michael J. Sandel is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University, where he has taught political philosophy since 1980. He is the author of numerous books, including Liberalism and the Limits of Justice, Democracy's Discontent, Public Philosophy and most recently, The Case against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent list of readings from some of the greatest thinkers on justice, and what it means to people living in a community,
and society.
What Socrates said about the most important thing that humans can discuss is how we should live together.
These readings go a long way to answering some of these questions.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x908b9edc) out of 5 stars 31 reviews
60 of 63 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90be9138) out of 5 stars Dangerous Philosophical Thinking 28 Oct. 2009
By Afia - Published on
Format: Paperback
Michael Sandel is a dynamic political philosopher, Harvard professor and perhaps National Treasure. His concern is achieving a just society and introducing notions about virtue and moral reflection into political debates. His philosophy lectures merited a 12-part TV series on PBS, but something quite serious seems to be in the works. I listened to the audiobook and have linked it below.

Forget about the tedium of philosophy classes - memorizing arguments of great philosophers and reproducing them in exams. This is different. If Sandel continues to gain access to the country through the national media, he might do for us what Socrates did for the ancient Greeks. He might succeed in making moral reflection a public endeavor, not a solitary activity. To him, a philosopher can be an interlocutor for the people.

Justice starts out in a friendly manner with its first case being the price gouging for necessities in the aftermath of Hurricane Charlie. At the time, newspapers were filled with editorials on how price gouging is not wrong since there's no "just price" and supply and demand should be allowed free reign. Yet buyers in emergencies are under duress and thus not truly free. That's why we feel a sense of outrage. We learn that we share principles tracing back to famous dead philosophers.

By mid-book, Sandel cuts close to the bone and you can see now why he's popular with students. He shows us that justice is inescapably judgmental and that political arguments are often about anything but virtue. He wants philosophy to be used on economics, not just on matters of abortion and gay marriage. Sandel demonstrates that the growing inequality in the U.S. undermines the solidarity that a democracy requires.

Sandel points to the hollowing out of the public realm on which a democratic society depends. As public services decline and decline, as we let our common spaces for all but wealthy Americans deteriorate, we undermine our shared democratic citizenship.

Common spaces accessible by our democracy include public transportation, parks, schools, hospitals and health clinics, libraries, the news media and more. Much of public life has become overly market-based, he says. We privatize prisons and contemplate a system of monetary rewards for teachers whose students achieve higher scores on state assessments. We've allowed a terrific gap in military service with a smaller percentage of our public officials having children in the military and serving in the wars than ever before, he says. We load heavy burdens onto families of our troops. We gave tax cuts to the rich in time of war and were advised to go shopping, he says. In all this, Sandel explains the schools of philosophical thought that provided the principles we adopted.

Sandel contrasts ancient theories of justice, concerned with virtue, with modern theories concerned with freedom. Yet we share beliefs about virtue. We just don't apply them to economics and politics as he advises. Our society has deep currents of moral convictions.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x979ea4b0) out of 5 stars Stellar, diverse collection of essays on conceptions of justice 27 July 2008
By Eric S. Giroux - Published on
Format: Paperback
This collection gathers together a wide array of classic writings on the topic of justice -- justice as fairness (Rawls), justice as a framework for the protection of rights (Locke, Rawls, Mill), justice from a teleological perspective (Aristotle), justice as the grounding for a conception of categorical morality (Kant), and justice as a defense to the results of the market system (Nozick). This is an indispensible set of readings for anyone grappling with the foundational questions of how we should live as individuals, nations, and a species.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x928c64c8) out of 5 stars Great course, great book, super audio 27 Feb. 2010
By Morgan Scott Phenix - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Michael Sandel's book is a solid rendering of the on-line PBS course. A superb alternate experience is the audio-book, which captures the warmth and humor and interactive intelligence of Professor Sandel's class. On-line college instructors could gain much from watching the series, imagining the potential for video portrayals in addition to the usual textual discourse seen in on-line instruction. Likewise, listening to the exchanges between professor and student in the audio-book format provides an excellent introduction to Sandel's dialogic style. Top quality, truly worthwhile.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91127294) out of 5 stars A Great Companion Book to Professor Sandel's Online Class 20 Aug. 2013
By D. Kong - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book for Prof. Michael Sandel's online Justice course. This book includes all the materials required to complete the online course and some more. It is 412 pages long with 14 chapters. Chapter 1. Introduction: Doing the Right Thing (The Queen v. Dudley and Stephen); Chapter 2. Utilitarianism (Principles of Moral and Legislation by Jeremy Bentham, and Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill); Chapter 3. Libertarianism (Free to Choose by Milton and Rose Friedman, Anarchy, State and Utopia by Robert Nozick, and The Constitution of Liberty by Friedrich A. Hayek); Chapter 4. Locke: Property Rights (Second Treatise of Government by John Locke); Chapter 5. Markets and Morals: Surrogate Motherhood, Military Service (Tragic Choices by Guido Calabresi and Philip Bobbit, Battle Cry of Freedom by James M. McPherson, All Go Down Together by James Thaub, In the Matter of Baby M, Is Women's Labor a Commodity? by Elizabeth S. Anderson); Chapter 6. Kant: Freedom as Autonomy (Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals and On the Supposed Right to Lie by Immanuel Kant); Chapter 7. Rawls: Justice as Fairness (A Theory of Justice by John Rawls); Chapter 8. Distributive Justice: Equality, Entitlement, and Merit (A Theory of Justice by John Rawls and Anarchy, State and Utopia by Robert Nozick); Chapter 9. Affirmative Action: Reverse Discrimination? (Racial Discrimination or Righting Wrongs? by Richard Bernstein, Hopwood v. State of Texas, Grutter v. Bollinger, Bakke's Case: Are Quotas Unfair? by Ronald Dworkins, Double Reverse Discrimination by Jefferson Morley, and Proxy Wars: Liberals Denounce Racial Profiling Conservatives Denounce Affirmative Action. What's the Difference? by Michael Brus); Chapter 10. Aristotle: Justice and Virtue (The Politics and Nichomachean Ethics by Aristotle); Chapter 11. Ability, Disability, and Discrimination: Cheerleaders and Golf Carts (A safety Blitz: Texas Cheerleaders Loses Status by Sue Anne Pressley, Honor and Resentment by Michael J. Sandel, Sorry, Free Rides Not Rights by Bob Ryan, Keep the PGA on Foot by Tom Kite, and PGA Tour v. Casey Martin); Chapter 12. Justice, Community and Membership (After Virtue by Alasdair MacIntyre, Democracy's Discontent by Michael J. Sandel, and Spheres of Justice by Michael Walzer); Chapter 13. Moral Argument and Liberal Toleration (Political Liberalism by John Rawls and Political Liberalism by Michael J. Sandel); Chapter 14. Morality and Law: Same-Sex Marriage, For and Against (Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health, Abolish Marriage by Michael Kinsley, Law. Morality and Sexual Orientation by John M. Finnis, Homosexuality and the Conservative Mind by Stephen Macedo, and Universalism, Liberal Theory, and the Problem of Gay Marriage by Robin West). Each chapter includes a short introduction that guides the reader on the critical issues.

Anyone who is interested in reading moral philosophy can read this as a stand alone book. Those who has enrolled or planning to enroll in Professor Michael Sandel's class will find this book very useful. Some of the important reading materials for the course are actually not included in the online course because of copyright issues. If you do not have this book, you will need to either borrow the actual literature from a public library or buy it. The online course is very intensive and, if you have this book, I recommend that you just follow the order of the materials but read a chapter ahead of the course.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90a2ae28) out of 5 stars Everyone concerned about "how to do the right thing" should read this. 13 Nov. 2013
By Bill Clarke - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent discussion of the effort to come up with societal ethics. Good to read a chapter, and then go to Sandel's Harvard website and watch a corresponding lecture video. It's good, too, because Sandel takes the reader through all the consequences of a given way of approaching ethics (for instance, a lot of people think Libertarianism is good because they imagine that it gives them more personal freedom, but Sandel points out just how selfish freedom without responsibility turns out to be.
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