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Common Reader 2015-2016 Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis: Michael J Sandel

Michael J Sandel

MICHAEL J SANDEL  is an American political philosopher and a professor at Harvard University. He is best known for the Harvard course "Justice" and for his critique of John Rawls' A Theory of Justice .   He is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University, where he has taught political philosophy since 1980. His recent book, What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, takes on one of the biggest ethical questions of our time: What should be the role of money and markets in our society? 

A recipient of the Harvard-Radcliffe Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize, Sandel has been a visiting professor at the Sorbonne (Paris), delivered the Tanner Lectures on Human Values at Oxford University, and presents an ongoing series for BBC radio called "The Public Philosopher."  In 2010, China Newsweek named him the "most influential foreign figure of the year" in China.

In the U.S., Sandel served on the President's Council on Bioethics (2002-2005), and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A graduate of Brandeis University (1975), Sandel received his doctorate from Oxford University (D.Phil.,1981), where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

Born: March 5, 1953 (age 62), Minneapolis, MN

News and Reviews

The PLACE title by Michael J Sandel is What Money Can't Buy

Michael J. Sandel takes up one of the biggest ethical questions of our time: Isn't there something wrong with a world in which everything is for sale? If so, how can we prevent market values from reaching into spheres of life where they don't belong? What are the moral limits of markets?
In recent decades, market values have crowded out nonmarket norms in almost every aspect of life. Without quite realizing it, Sandel argues, we have drifted from having a market economy to being a market society.

Michael Sandel's What Money Can't Buy is a great book and I recommend every economist to read it, even though we are not really his target audience. The book is pitched at a much wider audience of concerned citizens. But it taps into a rich seam of discontent about the discipline of economics.... The book is brimming with interesting examples which make you think.... I read this book cover-to-cover in less than 48 hours. And I have written more marginal notes than for any book I have read in a long time. (Timothy Besley, Journal of Economic Literature)

Provocative. . . What Money Can't Buy [is] an engaging, compelling read, consistently unsettling and occasionally unnerving. . . [It] deserves a wide readership. (David M. Kennedy, Democracy)

Brilliant, easily readable, beautifully delivered and often funny. . . an indispensable book on the relationship between morality and economics. (David Aaronovitch, The Times (London)

In a culture mesmerized by the market, Sandel's is the indispensable voice of reason…. What Money Can't Buy. . . must surely be one of the most important exercises in public philosophy in many years. (John Gray, New Statesman)

[An] important book. . . Michael Sandel is just the right person to get to the bottom of the tangle of moral damage that is being done by markets to our values. (Jeremy Waldron, The New York Review of Books)

The most famous teacher of philosophy in the world, [has] shown that it is possible to take philosophy into the public square without insulting the public's intelligence. . .[He] is trying to force open a space for a discourse on civic virtue that he believes has been abandoned by both left and right. (Michael Ignatieff, The New Republic)

[Sandel]is such a gentle critic that he merely asks us to open our eyes. . . Yet What Money Can't Buy makes it clear that market morality is an exceptionally thin wedge. . . Sandel is pointing out. . . [a] quite profound change in society. (Jonathan V. Last, The Wall Street Journal)

Michael J Sandel