Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?
Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?, the provocative and acclaimed book by Harvard University professor Michael Sandel, has been chosen as the 2015-16 Common Reading Program selection. All members of the Class of 2019 and new transfer students will read the book before classes begin in the fall.
About Justice: What’s The Right Thing to Do?
Harvard government professor Sandel dazzles in this sweeping survey of hot topics — the recent government bailouts, the draft, surrogate pregnancies, same-sex marriage, immigration reform and reparations for slavery — that situates various sides in the debates in the context of timeless philosophical questions and movements. Sandel takes utilitarianism, Kant's categorical imperative and Rawls's theory of justice out of the classroom, dusts them off and reveals how crucial these theories have been in the construction of Western societies — and how they inform almost every issue at the center of our modern-day polis. The content is dense but elegantly presented, and Sandel has a rare gift for making complex issues comprehensible, even entertaining (see his sections entitled Shakespeare versus the Simpsons and What Ethics Can Learn from Jack Benny and Miss Manners), without compromising their gravity. With exegeses of Winnie the Pooh, transcripts of Bill Clinton's impeachment hearing and the works of almost every major political philosopher, Sandel reveals how even our most knee-jerk responses bespeak our personal conceptions of the rights and obligations of the individual and society at large. Erudite, conversational and deeply humane, this is truly transformative reading.
About Michael Sandel
Michael J. Sandel is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University, where he has taught since 1980. An expert in political philosophy, Sandel has taught a variety of courses — ranging from "Ethics, Biotechnology, and the Future of Human Nature” to "Globalization and Its Critics." His undergraduate course "Justice" has been taught to more than 15,000 students and was the first Harvard course to be made freely available online (www.JusticeHarvard.org) and on television.
In addition to Justice, his books include What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice, Democracy's Discontent, Public Philosophy: Essays on Morality in Politics, and The Case against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering.
A graduate of Brandeis University, Sandel received his doctorate from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.
Point of View
"Freshmen students are about to start an important chapter in their life, facing situations that are bound to challenge them in several ways. I think Justice is important for them to read because it asks them to consider their own opinions in a variety of controversial situations — situations many of our incoming students have probably not faced before or even really considered very deeply. Justice doesn't give them the answers, which I think is important, it helps to begin the process of self-reflection and constructive criticism that we try to develop in our students. I think this will be a good introduction to college life and academic discussions while asking students to confront some important and contemporary issues."
Dr. Eliane M Boucher
Assistant Professor of Psychology
"Justice is an excellent book for our freshmen to read because it offers varied perspectives on justice through the prism of political philosophy — most disciplines on campus can find something in the book to relate to and discuss. It’s accessible and provides intellectually stimulating discussion topics for our incoming freshmen and for relevant programming throughout the year."
Janice G. Schuster, M.L.S.
Commons Librarian, Research, Education and Collections / Associate Professor