After the wonderful and thought provoking lecture series and book on political philosophy, Michael Sandel brings us a new treat, "What Money Can't Buy, the moral limits of markets".
Should we pay children to read books or to get good grades? Should we allow corporations to pay for the right to pollute the atmosphere? Is it ethical to pay people to test risky new drugs or to donate their organs? What about hiring mercenaries to fight our wars? Auctioning admission to elite universities? Selling citizenship to immigrants willing to pay?
In What Money Can’t Buy, Michael J. Sandel takes on one of the biggest ethical questions of our time: Is 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?
and from the WSJ
Yet why should life settlement, or other market strategies, bother us? Such practices maximize social utility and are the ultimate expansion of individual freedom. (There's a reason libertarians and their utilitarian brothers love markets.) But, Mr. Sandel observes, "markets don't only allocate goods, they also express and promote certain attitudes toward the goods being exchanged." "When we decide," he goes on, "that certain goods may be bought and sold, we decide, at least implicitly, that it is appropriate to treat them as commodities." Which is why citizens can't purchase their way out of jury duty or offer their votes for sale. Or why Catholics can't buy the Eucharist. In many instances, allowing markets to "work" would destroy the "value" of the goods they touch.