Each summer, incoming freshmen at UC are asked to read a book that raises issues and themes which cut across the various academic disciplines. This 'common reading' provides a context and touchstone for various academic discussions and activities throughout the year. This year's book is "Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?" by Michael Sandel. It was selected by a committee of students, staff, and faculty that sought a theme or story tied to the University Community's Bearcat Bond - a pledge to uphold the Just Community principles. See: http://www.uc.edu/conduct/BearcatBond.html
Sandel's book doesn't simply point to the Just Community Principle: Promote Justice. 'Justice' asks us to reflect on the ethical principles and values that guide our actions in everyday life and in ethically problematic situations. It prods our gut-instincts about abortion, drug legalization, affirmative action, prostitution, and other hot-button issues. It helps us discover the values and principles on which our gut-instincts are based and helps us learn how to apply those values and principles to cases in which our gut-instincts may pull in opposing directions. This book is as much about how to make your next decision as it is about figuring out what you already believe. Reading and discussing this book as a UC community of freshmen, together with faculty, advisors, peer leaders and other members of the UC community, provides a context for each to reflect, articulate, debate, justify - and perhaps even reevaluate - one's moral and political convictions. This process of prodding our gut-instincts with the hope of developing them further is called 'philosophy'. By practicing moral decision-making (that is, by articulating and defending what you believe), you'll be able to handle more complicated and more weighty decisions in the future, in a more informed way.
Think of the following questions while reading this book and exercising your moral sense and reasoning: