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What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets (edition 2012)

by Michael J. Sandel

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4881421,022 (3.84)10
Member:ssrosa
Title:What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets
Authors:Michael J. Sandel
Info:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2012), Hardcover, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets by Michael J. Sandel

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
A great book with good arguments that prices shouldn't be put on everything. He lists a number of interesting domains where buying and selling seems to be a dubious way of transaction. Though many readers may find that Sandel shouldn't have included some items, and other readers may find that he left out some important items, it is extremely worthwhile to think about all of his examples.
The only thing I found a bit unbalanced was the wholesale critique of economists as apologists of radical laissez-faire capitalism. I am myself an economist, and I can say that the (extreme) views of Gary Becker and colleagues, though influential, are not the only ideology in town, but unfortunately their protagonists are very vocal in the public discourse. Many economists work in the fields of social choice and welfare economics will nod their heads while reading Sandel's arguments, so it would be wrong to damn all economists for promoting commercialism and corporatocracy. But I agree that two things are too rarely articulated: that economics is never purely descriptive because it is largely based on (implicit) utilitarian assumptions; and that market allocations are the result of both willingness to pay AND ability to pay. I think economics can only benefit, also in terms of public image, from highlighting these points more.
The end of the book was a little anticlimactic. It is a pity that Sandel does not dig deeper: till the last few pages, all he does is present a long list of intrusions of commerce in our private lives. But often, these are attempts to solve a deeper problem. If ticket scalpers invade the allocation system for doctor appointments, then there is a shortage of health services. If schools sell out their educational material to corporate advertising, then there is a shortage of education funding. Sandel is right that everybody should have a right to live a decent life, which includes basic health and education. But then, solutions must be found that there is inclusive access to these social goods. Sandel is also right that letting profiteers in the ways he describes in his book is not conducive to the provision of these goods, but he does not mention any solution. There are multiple possibilities to prevent the complete sellout of society while at the same time providing people with a basic right of decency, but Sandel leaves the reader somewhat depressed as he fails to touch on them. ( )
  Frederic_Schneider | Jan 23, 2016 |
Con una miriade di esempi, il libro illustra lo schifo nel quale vive il popolo statunitense, dove ci sono polizze sulla vita che fanno guadagnare le aziende sottoscrittrici e non la famiglia del dipartito; dove c'e' un mercato degli autografi delle star del baseball; dove qualcuno fa la fila (a pagamento) al posto tuo per farti assistere alle riunioni del Congresso; dove c'e' chi per 10.000 $ si è fatto tatuare permanentemente il nome di una azienda in fronte a scopi pubblicitari.
L'autore solleva molte domande e da' poche risposte: spontaneamente, scaturiscono da sole. ( )
  bobparr | Dec 14, 2014 |
A lucid dissection of much that is wrong with today's market triumphalism. ( )
  dazzyj | Apr 27, 2014 |
Persuasive that markets distort values, but less clear where the limits should be. ( )
  PhilipKinsella | May 30, 2013 |
I am a big fan of Michael Sandel, Harvard professor of political philosophy. This book is a factual survey of the encroachment of advertising in American culture, and examines questions of ethical and moral considerations involved in determining what to leave to free markets and what to regulate or dismiss as inappropriate excess.

As in his famous lecture series and book on Justice, Sandel gives few if any answers, takes no sides, and leaves it up to his students and readers to do the critical thinking. Corporations bent on covering the country with invasive advertising will not like some of the examples and comparisons, but the answers are up to each of us to decide what we are willing to tolerate and how far we will allow it to go.

The book is factual and heavily documented. It is the type of book that every thoughtful person should read, not for entertainment but for an historical awareness of from where we came and to where we are going in determining the extent of unregulated free markets. ( )
  mldavis2 | Apr 24, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
What Money Can’t Buy has an easy charm about it, but it also has structural defects which do not, I think, come from its American focus and do not depend on how many of Sandel’s pet hates you share. It is an exercise in persuasive pamphleteering rather than a systematic exploration.
 

The irony is that I think Sandel would have written a more powerful book had he not tried to argue the case on free-market economists' own dry, dispassionate terms. It is, as he rightly points out, the language in which most modern political debate is conducted: "Between those who favour unfettered markets and those who maintain that market choices are free only when they're made on a level playing field." But it feels as if by engaging on their terms, he's forcing himself to make an argument with one hand tied behind his back. Only in the final chapter does he throw caution to the wind, and make the case in the language of poetry.
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374203032, Hardcover)

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?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:40 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Sandel argues that we have drifted from having a market economy to being a market society and examines one of the biggest ethical questions of our time: What is the proper role of markets in a democratic society, and how can we protect the moral and civic goods that markets do not honor and money cannot buy?… (more)

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