Book Review of 'Sandal'

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In Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? (2009), Michael J. Sandal argues that politics and society require a common moral purpose beyond the assertion of natural rights like life liberty and property or the utilitarian calculus of increasing pleasure and minimizing pain for the greatest number of people. He would move beyond both John Locke and Jeremy Bentham in asserting that "a just society can't be achieved simply by maximizing utility or by securing freedom of choice" (Sandal 261). Justice and morality involve making judgments on a wide variety of issues, including inequality of wealth and incomes, discrimination against women and minorities, CEP pay, government bailouts of banks and public education. Politics should take "moral and spiritual questions seriously" and not only on issues like sexual orientation and abortion, but also "broad economic and civil concerns" (Sandal 262). Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King added this moral dimension to U.S. politics in the 1960s when they criticized the Vietnam War, poverty and racial inequality and "appealed to a sense of community" (Sandal 263). So did Barack Obama in his 2008 campaign, although in practice achieving a politics of the common good in American society has been difficult, given the Lockean, natural rights basis of its 18th Century Constitution. Sandal would go much further in the direction of using government and the political system to uphold morality and the common good than John Locke, who was mainly
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