Justice of the Common Good: Three Types of Justice

16 Jun

Author Michael Sandel begins his argument with an anecdote regarding John Kennedy’s speech about his Catholic religion not effecting his judgement if he were to be president. Here is the video; it’s refreshing and inspiring to hear it rather than just read it:

Sandel contrasts this with Obama’s platform of having faith as a guide. While both liberal and conservative aim for “neutrality,” the facets of this neutrality are very different. For liberals, neutrality means neutral government intervention in social areas, and for conservatives it meant neutral government intervention in the economic realm. Sandel goes on to discuss the morally-charged classic debates between the two sides: abortion and same-sex marriage.

Sandel’s take on marriage was something I had heard my Labor Economics professor discuss earlier. Instead of having a conventional “marriage contract,” all relationships should be a choice between the one, two, or three people, not a government institution. While this point is extremely radical and will most likely never gain ground, the point it brings up is pertinent. This particular part of the reading stood out to me most, because it was so radical and freeing of past constricting social standards.

Sandel summarizes some possible themes of “new politics of the common good:”

Citizenship, sacrifice, and service

The moral limits of markets

Inequality, solidarity, and civic virtue

A politics of moral engagement

Working at Bayside’s Academic Club, I found myself focusing on the third theme that Sandel proposes. The issue of economic inequality is so apparent. Even within the Linda Vista Community, there is a part of the neighborhood which has larger, more suburban type housing, and right down the road are small, run down apartments with no cars outside because the inhabitants cannot afford one. Sandel says that inequality has been a political problem since the 1970s, but I believe it is much more glaringly obvious now, and a problem my generation needs to tackle. Because, with the loss of a middle class, democracy will soon be lost as well. Focusing on this problem will ” help highlight the connection between distributive justice and the common good” (Sandel, 268).   Creating common spaces where people from all social and economic classes can meet and connect will foster the important relationships a functional democracy needs.


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