Michael Sanders has been called the rockstar of modern political philosophy. This is not because he is eccentric but largely because he makes these existential questions about the polity accessible to the average reader who struggles to grasp philosophy. A couple of years ago I had read What Money Can’t Buy and this year excited to find Justice in my 2022 TBR list. Justice was actually an earlier book of his. At the heart of Justice is the existential question of what is right and wrong and what underpins our notions of rightness. Justice invites readers of all political persuasions to reconsider familiar political topics within the prism of political theories to deduce which views denote the right thing to do. In all of these views, the conflict between individual rights and the common good is laid bare.
As simple and accessible as the book is, Sandel does not choose the easy option of being unnecessarily didactic. Sandel examines utilitarianism, liberalism and the shades in between both while using familiar trending societal issues and the political theories of Kant, Aristotle, Mill and Rawls as a backdrop for each analysis. He forces the reader to arrive at his/her own conclusions about the correct course of action. He does have an opinion (subscribes to a certain version of communitarianism) but it is not rammed down the throat of the reader nor is any view under review disparaged. While the philosophical principles can be a bit overwhelming for a casual reader like me, one thing that Justice achieves is that it creates humility in the heart of the reader as the question of what is good or bad for the society is more complicated than fundamentalists on either side often portray. I think I will reread this once more this year as there is a lot to chew and digest within the pages of Justice.