Short Book Review: Justice by Michael J. Sandel

SBR: Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? is a book for our times. It isn’t a self-improvement text about what an individual should be doing, as people sometimes tend to infer from its subtitle. It is about what a just society should look like. In addressing that question, the author draws on ancient to current (western) philosophical thoughts, current and recent (mostly American) political discourses and many legal battles that bring some difficult questions about right and wrong to the fore. If you identify yourself as a liberal in political and social thoughts (like me),  it is easy to start believing that in espousing freedom, individual dignity and correction of systemic biases, you have covered all the issues of morality, justice, and social cohesion. But it isn’t so easy. And this book does a good job of making you realize that and to help you question more. If you find liberalism to be just gibberish and think that some good, old values you have learned from tradition are what makes a good society, then you definitely need some of these questions in your life. The limitation of the book for an Indian audience is that it focuses on Western philosophy and American society. But that affects relatability, not the relevance of the book. The book is also immensely readable.

To read or not to read: Yes.