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What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Marketsby Michael J. Sandel
Synopses & Reviews
A renowned political philosopher rethinks the role that markets and money should play in our society.
Should we pay children to read books or to get good grades? Should we put a price on human life to decide how much pollution to allow? Is it ethical to pay people to test risky new drugs or to donate their organs? What about hiring mercenaries to fight our wars, outsourcing inmates to for-profit prisons, auctioning admission to elite universities, or selling citizenship to immigrants willing to pay?
In his New York Times bestseller What Money Can't Buy, Michael J. Sandel takes up one of the biggest ethical questions of our time: Isnt 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.
In Justice, an international bestseller, Sandel showed himself to be a master at illuminating, with clarity and verve, the hard moral questions we confront in our everyday lives. Now, in What Money Can't Buy, he provokes a debate that's been missing in our market-driven age: What is the proper role of markets in a democratic society, and how can we protect the moral and civic goods that markets do not honor and money cannot buy?
“Provocative and intellectually suggestive...amply researched and presented with exemplary clarity, [it] is weighty indeed — little less than a wake-up call to recognise our desperate need to rediscover some intelligible way of talking about humanity.” Rowan Williams, Prospect
“Brilliant, easily readable, beautifully delivered and often funny...an indispensable book.” David Aaronovitch, Times
“Entertaining and provocative.” Diane Coyle, Independent
“Poring through Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel's new book...I found myself over and over again turning pages and saying, 'I had no idea.' I had no idea that in the year 2000...'a Russian rocket emblazoned with a giant Pizza Hut logo carried advertising into outer space,' or that in 2001, the British novelist Fay Weldon wrote a book commissioned by the jewelry company Bulgari....I knew that stadiums are now named for corporations, but had no idea that now 'even sliding into home is a corporate-sponsored event'...I had no idea that in 2001 an elementary school in New Jersey became America's first public school 'to sell naming rights to a corporate sponsor.'” Thomas Friedman, New York Times
“A vivid illustration....Let's hope that What Money Can't Buy, by being so patient and so accumulative in its argument and its examples, marks a permanent shift in these debates.” John Lanchester, Guardian
“In a culture mesmerised by the market, Sandel's is the indispensable voice of reason...if we...bring basic values into political life in the way that Sandel suggests, at least we won't be stuck with the dreary market orthodoxies that he has so elegantly demolished.” John Gray, New Statesman
“What Money Can't Buy is replete with examples of what money can, in fact, buy....Sandel has a genius for showing why such changes are deeply important.” Martin Sandbu, Financial Times
“Sandel is a political philosopher who makes us think about what it means to be good.” Andrew Anthony, The Guardian
“Ed Miliband has been reading What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, Michael Sandel's elegant and provocative critique of 'the era of market triumphalism.' According to the Harvard professor, 'Our only hope of keeping markets in their place is to deliberate openly and publicly about the meaning of the goods and social practices we prize...the question of markets is really a question about how we want to live together.' It is no surprise that this particular monograph should appeal to the Labour leader at this particular moment, when precisely the same questions — and more besides — are being confronted, for the highest stakes, across a continent.” Matthew d'Ancona, Evening Standard
“What Mr. Sandel does not offer is prescriptions for rolling back the clock. He 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.” Jonathan V. Last, The Wall Street Journal
“Sandel is probably the worlds most relevant living philosopher, thanks to the hugely popular course he teaches at Harvard, ‘Justice....To make his argument Sandel stays focused on the everyday; hes a practical philosopher. He asks what it says about us that we employed more mercenaries than U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan? What about the idea that we should sell immigration rights? Does that cheapen the idea of citizenship?” Michael Fitzgerald, Newsweek
“There is no more fundamental question we face than how to best preserve the common good and build strong communities that benefit everyone. Sandel's book is an excellent starting place for that dialogue.” Kevin J. Hamilton, The Seattle Times
“Sandel...sounds the alarm that the belief in a market economy diminishes moral thought....An exquisitely reasoned, skillfully written treatise on big issues of everyday life.” Kirkus Review
About the Author
Michael J. Sandel is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University. His work has been the subject of television series on PBS and the BBC. His most recent book is the New York Times bestseller Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?.
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