TED Conversations

Morton Bast

editorial coordinator, TED


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Are markets equipped to solve our social problems?

At TEDGlobal 2013, Harvard professors Michael Sandel and Michael Porter faced off on a very big question: Should the fate of our social values -- healthcare, family, education and the like -- be left to the power of markets? Is business' potential for success and scalability the answer to a set of big problems that sometimes seem to be getting nowhere, year after year?

Porter believes that, in the long run, social good is the ultimate business interest. Sandel sees the care of our society as too important to be driven by an amoral system. What do you think?

Watch Sandel's and Porter's TED Talks, and then see the debate, hosted by Chris Anderson on the TEDGlobal stage (http://wp.me/p10512-lty).


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  • Oct 8 2013: Thanks for the great talk and a very interesting view on how we can begin to solve social problems.

    I posed a similar question a couple of months back and I think the premise for the question and the talk are similar. I believe that business as we know it has evolved tremendously over the years but that historically, any business that was started was built with the intention of solving a problem or a need. While this may not be true in all cases, this is my general belief about how and why businesses were developed.

    It appears that today unfortunately, many businesses are solving problems but not those social problems that have been discussed, but the problem of how to create more money. This however obviously takes a very short term view on the overall progression of mankind and I think as we expose the fallacy as expressed that the more we invest in social responsibility, the greater the profit will be in the long run, the more businesses will seek to improve on their long term commitment to mankind as well as meeting their own personal and company needs of creating wealth.

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