Michael Sandel teaches political philosophy at Harvard, exploring some of the most hotly contested moral and political issues of our time.

Why you should listen

Michael Sandel is one of the best known American public intellectuals. The London Observer calls him "one of the most popular teachers in the world" and indeed his lectures at Harvard draw thousands of students eager to discuss big questions of modern political life: bioethics, torture, rights versus responsibilities, the value we put on things. Sandel's class is a primer on thinking through the hard choices we face as citizens. The course has been turned into a public TV series with companion website and book: Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? In his newest book, What Money Can't Buy, he challenges the idea that markets are morally neutral.
 
"To understand the importance of his purpose," a Guardian reviewer wrote of the book, "you first have to grasp the full extent of the triumph achieved by market thinking in economics, and the extent to which that thinking has spread to other domains. This school sees economics as a discipline that has nothing to do with morality, and is instead the study of incentives, considered in an ethical vacuum. Sandel's book is, in its calm way, an all-out assault on that idea, and on the influential doctrine that the economic approach to "utility maximisation" explains all human behaviour."

Read more about his thinking on markets and morality: "Lunch with Michael Sandel" on FT.com >>  

What others say

“He sets himself at odds with one of the reigning assumptions of modern public life -- that moral and religious notions are private matters that should be kept out of public political debate.” — London Observer

Michael Sandel on the TED Blog
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Live from TEDGlobal 2013

The real price of market values: Michael Sandel at TEDGlobal 2013

June 14, 2013

Political philosopher Michael Sandel — the second “Michael from Harvard” this session — returns to TED in the last session of TEDGlobal, “All Together Now,” to address the marketization of our culture. These days there’s very little money can’t buy. If you ever wind up in jail in San Diego, CA, and you find your […]

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Live from TEDGlobal 2013

All Together Now: The speakers in Session 12 at TEDGlobal 2013

June 14, 2013

TEDGlobal 2013 has come to a close, and we’ve reached the final session: All Together Now. Here a look at the speakers who appeared in the session. Click on the speaker’s name to read a recap of their talk. Michael E. Porter wrote the books on modern competitive strategy for business. Now he is thinking deeply […]

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Quotes from Michael Sandel

A better way to mutual respect is to engage directly with the moral convictions citizens bring to public life, rather than to require that people leave their deepest moral convictions outside politics before they enter.
Michael Sandel
TED2010 • 828K views Jun 2010
Persuasive, Inspiring
There is a tendency to think that if we engage too directly with moral questions in politics, that’s a recipe for disagreement, and for that matter, a recipe for intolerance and coercion.
Michael Sandel
TED2010 • 828K views Jun 2010
Persuasive, Inspiring