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What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets Paperback – 2 May 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 159 customer reviews

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  • What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (2 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241954487
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241954485
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


One of the most popular teachers in the world (Observer)

Sandel is touching something deep in both Boston and Beijing (Thomas Friedman New York Times)

The most influential foreign figure of the year (China's Newsweek)

Few philosophers are compared to rock stars or TV celebrities, but that's the kind of popularity Michael Sandel enjoys in Japan (Japan Times)

One of the world's most interesting political philosophers (Guardian)

What Money Can't Buy selected by the Guardian as a literary highlight for 2012 (Guardian)

America's best-known contemporary political philosopher ... the most famous professor in the world right now... the man is an academic rock star [but] instead of making it all serious and formidable, Sandel makes it light and easy to grasp (Mitu Jayashankar Forbes India)

An exquisitely reasoned, skillfully written treatise on big issues of everyday life (Kirkus Reviews)

Sandel is probably the world's most relevant living philosopher (Michael Fitzgerald Newsweek)

Mr Sandel is pointing out [a] quite profound change in society (Jonathan V Last Wall Street Journal)

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)

Michael Sandel ... is currently the most effective communicator of ideas in English (Guardian)

Sandel, 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 (Michael Ignatieff New Republic)

A book that can persuade people that the rules of the economy don't just reflect our values, they help to determine them (Ed Miliband New Statesman)

Fascinating exploration of the alarming encroachment of market philosophy on so many aspects of our lives (Alexander McCall Smith The Herald)

About the Author

Michael J. Sandel is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University. His legendary 'Justice' course is the first Harvard course made freely available online (www.JusticeHarvard.org) and on television. Hiss work has been translated into 15 languages and been the subject of television series in the U.K., the U.S., Japan, South Korea, Sweden, and the Middle East. He has delivered the Tanner Lectures at Oxford and been a visiting professor at the Sorbonne, Paris. In 2010, China Newsweek named him the "most influential foreign figure of the year" in China. Sandel was the 2009 BBC Reith Lecturer, and his most recent book Justice is an international bestseller.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
If I'm right in saying that true erudition lies in being able to make the complex both simple and thought-provoking, then Michael Sandel is on a short shortlist for the wisest man alive today.

The creep of market values to overlay or replace other ethical values is one of the most harmful aspects of the Western world today. Why are we in thrall to markets? Why are `profits', `efficiency' and `incentives' such central themes across so many organisations and so much social activity? And what do we lose as a result?

If you have read `Freakonomics' or books like it, then consider this your antidote. Please read it, then give it to a friend to read. We might just change the world. It's that good.
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By S. J. Williams TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 April 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I read this with great enthusiasm after seeing Sandel on tv last year and listening to him on the radio recently exploring some contemporary issues with audiences: what I admired was his ability to take the audience through a series of steps to elucidate central moral concerns. Here he takes a steady look at the commodification of much in western culture and subjects it to a scrupulous moral analysis, in many respects very much a print version of his broadcast work. The reviewer who hints at disappointment that there is nothing new here has a valid point: I doubt there really is in terms of conclusions. But what I really admire and am engaged by with Sandel's method is that it is not polemic but takes the reader through the logical processes by which one can arrive at judgements.

Most of us will probably 'know what we think' about many of the topics covered here - from bribes/incentives to populations to live healthily, to the access of advertisers to educational spaces, and many more and many more pressing and central topics besides. But what Sandel does is unravel the threads of logic and underpinning value judgements that many of us leapfrog over in our rush to judgement. At the very least we know better why certain arguments are more valid than others and occasionally have our assumptions challenged, or at least brought out into the open.

Perhaps best of all, the book is another demonstration that philosophy is not some abstruse academic pastime but a very relevant everyday process: if all the book does is remind us that we need to have a thought out underpinning to our expressed attitudes, then that is a worthy goal in itself.
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Format: Paperback
In the U.S. Congress, some public can listen to the debate, but for the days you will have to wait your turn. The solution to that is offered by the company through which you rent a person who would stand in line for you. If you're a lobbyist and you need to listen very important discussion time of some homeless will be helpful who would thereby earn his $ 50 Something innocuous like standing in queue, as the most experienced, is particularly worrying in China where you stand in line for days or you have to pay the priority. At the hospital.

The issue of standing in the queue is the subject of the first chapter of the book written by most famous Harvard political philosopher Michael Sandel. After the hugely successful 'Justice' Sandel explores and discusses the moral limits of markets. In the introduction he is defending against possible sentence that the book criticizes market economy: "The difference of the market economy is the following - the market economy is a good tool to increase productivity, but market society is a way of life in which the market value pervades all aspects of human endeavor." The era of market triumphalism ended, and since then things have started in the wrong direction; from the beginning of the crisis the public, instead to banks and the stock exchange speculators, turned anger to the government, to the politicians.

Why the issue of standing in queue is worrying? Economists, however, say that standing in queues is inefficient waste of time, shows that the offer did not meet the demand as a basic rule of economics. Pay someone to stand in line for you will improve efficiency by making people put a price on their time. But is it moral to look at it in this way, dividing people into those who can afford it and the other ones?
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Format: Paperback
Michael Sandel is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University. In this remarkable book, he argues against the commercialisation of society. "These uses of markets to allocate health, education, public safety, national security, criminal justice, environmental protection, recreation, procreation, and other social goods were for the most part unheard of thirty years ago."

He distinguishes two kinds of arguments against markets - the fairness argument and the corruption argument. "The fairness argument does not object to marketizing certain goods on the grounds that they are precious or sacred or priceless; it objects to buying and selling goods against a background of inequality severe enough to create unfair bargaining positions. It offers no basis for objecting to the commodification of goods (whether sex or kidneys or college admissions) in a society whose background conditions are fair.

He continues, "The corruption argument, by contrast, focuses on the character of the goods themselves and the norms that should govern them. So it cannot be met simply by establishing fair bargaining conditions. Even in a society without unjust differences of power and wealth, there would still be things that money should not buy. This is because markets are not mere mechanisms; they embody certain values. And sometimes, market values crowd out nonmarket norms worth caring about."

He concludes, "The crowding-out phenomenon has big implications for economics. It calls into question the use of market mechanisms and market reasoning in many aspects of social life, including financial incentives to motivate performance in education, health care, the workplace, voluntary associations, civic life, and other settings in which intrinsic motivations or moral commitments matter."
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