Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?

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Defining justice involves an in depth look at what we as individuals and a collective society value. Michael Sandel’s book Justice: What’s the right thing to do? does not attempt to answer these questions for us but rather implores us to look inside ourselves for the answers. This is accomplished by challenging the reader with cases, some hypothetical, and some real, in which the moral basis can be debated from different angles. We all have views on the death penalty, war, taxes, and religion but few of us take the time to reflect on the logical basis for these values. The first four chapters are filled with many cases that cause the reader to rethink these values or at least the reasoning behind them. I was especially intrigued by the question of how much of ourselves we own. I believe that “If I own my own body, my life, and my person, I should be free to do whatever I want with them…”(Sandel, 2009, p. 70). This seems like a pretty straight forward statement but what the book does a good job of doing is breaking this down to see what the underlying implications are. In Sandel’s example if you fully own yourself it follows that you should be able to sell parts of yourself, such as kidneys, to people in need. What happens if you sell one kidney and then decide that you want to sell the other one even though it would result in your death? If you agree you own your kidney and can sell one, then you logically have to agree that you have the freedom to sell the other. After all you can not just own one of your kidneys. What if instead of being used to save other people they were being bought by an eccentric collector to be used as display pieces? That changes what they are used for but not the logic behind selling them. These situations are not supposed to be trick questions but rather a deep look at the logic behind our own beliefs. I was on board at owning yourself and selling your kidney, but being able to sell the second one made me think twice. Then if they were...
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