Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?

Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? is a book by Michael Sandel. It deals with some of the philosophical thoughts on justice, such as utilitarianism and libertarianism, and links them to real life issues (mostly American).

As with my other Book Reviews, this is partly a guide to what is in the book, and a reminder and reference for me. I also discuss my opinions on some of the issues are relate them to some other articles. As Ethics is one of key tools which help us decide what we should do, it features in How do we decide.

This is a work in progress, published in incomplete form to enable it to be linked to from other places.


Doing the Right Thing

I am a Debian developer, and the concept of Doing the Right Thing is so embedded into the Free Software movement that it is often abbreviated to DTRT. The desire to do the right thing does not prevent discussions becoming heated and sometimes breaking down. At least internally Debian has a code of conduct which helps keep discussions civilised.

The foregoing has taken me beyond the scope of the book, which begins with a description of the impact of Hurricane Charley on prices of goods and services in Florida in its wake.

The Greatest Happiness Principle / Utilitarianism

Do we own ourselves ? / Libertarianism

Hired Help / Markets and Morals

Discusses free markets, from an ethics, rather than economics perspective. The book Good Economics for Hard Times also discusses free markets, from the economics side.

What’s Just – Drafting Soldiers or Hiring Them ?

What matters is the Motive / Immanuel Kant

The case for equality / John Rawls

Arguing Affirmative Action

Who deserves what ? / Aristotle

What do we owe one another / Dilemmas of loyalty

Justice and the Common Good

A discussion of the interaction of religious belief and politics, beginning with John F Kennedy‘s 1960 speech on the role of religion in politics, where he promises his political decisions will not be influenced by his Catholic beliefs. This is followed by an introduction to Barak Obama‘s views on the subject.

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