What Money Can't Buy by Michael Sandel

65%

26 Critic Reviews

Sandel’s subjective intuitionism and one-sided presentation of the issues prevents me from recommending his work.
-The Gospel Coalition

Synopsis

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?

In recent decades, market values have crowded out nonmarket norms in almost every aspect of life—medicine, education, government, law, art, sports, even family life and personal relations. Without quite realizing it, Sandel argues, we have drifted from having a market economy to being a market society. Is this where we want to be?In his New York Times bestseller Justice, 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 an essential discussion that we, in our market-driven age, need to have: What is the proper role of markets in a democratic society—and how can we protect the moral and civic goods that markets don’t honor and that money can’t buy?
 

About Michael Sandel

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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 international bestseller Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?
 
Published April 2, 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 256 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Law & Philosophy, Children's Books, Education & Reference, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on May 13 2012
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for What Money Can't Buy
All: 26 | Positive: 15 | Negative: 11

Kirkus

Excellent
Apr 15 2012

An exquisitely reasoned, skillfully written treatise on big issues of everyday life.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Julian Baggini on May 25 2013

...Sandel has raised a much-needed alarm, and even if how we respond to it may not be clear, respond we must.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by John Lanchester on May 17 2012

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.

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Wall Street Journal

Excellent
Reviewed by Jonathan Last on Apr 20 2012

He is such a gentle critic that he merely asks us to open our eyes.

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Financial Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Martin Sandbu on May 19 2012

Sandel’s approach is more promising for being more modest... He calls merely for a willingness to discuss how we ought to value things.

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The Telegraph

Below average
Reviewed by Alasdair Palmer on May 08 2012

The problem is that he offers only half of the argument needed to sustain his case.

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The Independent

Below average
Reviewed by Diane Coyle on May 05 2012

What Money Can't Buy will tap into a widespread unease about having to limit government and accept a larger private domain in this age of austerity... But it does not offer a clear guide to which markets are repugnant, and why.

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

Good
Reviewed by A.C. Grayling on May 09 2012

We might have individual views about this, but Sandel's point is a larger one: that we should formulate such a view as a society, as a culture; and we should do so long before matters so evolve...

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The Daily Beast

Excellent
Reviewed by Michael Fitzgerald on Apr 16 2012

To make his argument Sandel stays focused on the everyday; he’s a practical philosopher.

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Boston.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Josh Rothman on May 23 2012

I've enjoyed this book quite a lot and think it's well worth reading in its entirety...

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The New Republic

Below average
Reviewed by Michael Ignatieff on May 18 2012

Sandel denounces inequality, but in order to do something about it, he needs a politically persuasive rationale ...

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Newsday

Below average
Reviewed by Daniel Akst on May 03 2012

The subtitle suggests it will tell us "the moral limits of markets," but all it really tells us is that such limits ought to exist.

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The Seattle Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Kevin Hamilton on Apr 29 2012

Sandel's book is an excellent starting place for that dialogue.

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The Gospel Coalition

Below average
Reviewed by Greg Forster

Sandel’s subjective intuitionism and one-sided presentation of the issues prevents me from recommending his work.

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Literary Review

Below average
Reviewed by Christopher Caldwell

There is not a whole book's worth of argument in this short, repetitive volume.

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CNN Money

Below average
Reviewed by Scott Olster on Apr 20 2012

Sandel doesn't address the more challenging question, whether there's a viable alternative to the market-driven hamster wheel that we're apparently trapped on.

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Management Today

Excellent
Reviewed by Matthew Taylor on Jun 01 2012

In a world where solutions based on market and economic incentives have powerful advocates, What Money Can't Buy offers much-needed pause for thought.

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London School of Economics

Excellent
Reviewed by Gil Shidlo on Jun 17 2012

In my view, Sandel fully fulfills what any scholar would have liked to see, and even takes it one full step forward – he brings the issue to be debated and raises it in a way each one of us feels fully equipped to voice concerns.

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Christianity Today

Excellent
Reviewed by Todd Ream on May 08 2012

What Money Can't Buy furthers Sandel's reputation as a great public intellectual.

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Labour Uncut

Below average
Reviewed by Anthony Painter on Jun 24 2012

What money can’t buy is essentially a fleshing out of the final chapter of Sandel’s popular book Justice. That chapter argues for a politics of virtue. It was an awkward end to a brilliant piece of public education. That chapter left an uncomfortable feeling of suspicion at the end of that book. This book underlines that uncomfortable feeling.

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Prospect

Excellent
Reviewed by Rowan Williams on Apr 23 2012

amply researched and presented with exemplary clarity

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Finance & Development

Below average
Reviewed by Kay Hymowitz

Readers interested in pondering the social implications of free markets will find much to chew on, though they will probably be left unsatisfied.

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Stanford Social Innovation Review

Below average
Reviewed by Rob Reich

What Money Can’t Buy is neither original nor deep, but if it stimulates a wider public discussion about the emergence of a market society, it will have succeeded on its own terms.

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The Humanist

Excellent
Reviewed by Peter Grosvenor on Jul 01 2012

Sandel’s thoroughgoing criticism of imperious marketization is always coolly argued, but nonetheless unsparing.

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Libertarianism.org

Below average
Reviewed by Trevor Burrus on May 23 2012

The onus is on Professor Sandel to differentiate between the two, and in What Money Can’t Buy, he fails to meet this challenge.

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bigWOWO

Good
May 20 2012

This was an excellent book... I think readers of this blog will especially appreciate it, as too often people shrug off our exclusion from the media by saying, “Hey, it’s just the market!”

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Reader Rating for What Money Can't Buy
78%

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