Today, I am posting a book review about Michael Sandel’s new book “What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets.” The review was written by Michael Fitzgerald and published by Newsweek. You can find the article here.
Michael Sandel is a professor at Harvard who teaches a wildly popular philosophy course called “Justice.” This class was broadcast on PBS and by the BBC and explores issues of morality, using classical philosophical theory as his framework for examining modern day moral dilemmas.
A group that my husband and I belong to has been hosting viewing parties of these lectures and they are absolutely fascinating. It is especially interesting to observe how Professor Sandel engages his students and encourages them to think critically about these theoretical philosophical issues. The lectures are always followed by a lively discussion about how these philosophies and theories impact current political realities. Most recently, we watched the series on Libertarianism, which certainly has much relevancy in today’s political climate.
While I haven’t read “What Money Can’t Buy,” the idea that Sandel lays out in the book regarding the “skyboxification of America” is intriguing to me. Sandel coined this phrase to refer to the lack of frequent opportunities for people with different socio-economic statuses to engage with people from other backgrounds in everyday life. His book also explores the drive to subject all aspects of life to the market, regardless of the weightier moral and ethical issues involved.
I have not read this book and am only halfway through the Justice series, but I love the way that Professor Sandel makes people think critically about the world around them.
Discussion questions: Have you taken Michael Sandel’s course or watched his lectures? What are some key points and ideas that you took from that experience? Do you believe that our culture places a monetary value on certain things that should not be subjected to this type of analysis? What types of things? What do you think about the “skyboxification of America” idea? If you are a parent, do you look for opportunities for your kids to engage with kids from other backgrounds and economic statuses? Do you seek out these opportunities yourself?
Readers should always feel free to post discussion questions as well, since this blog is more about its readers and promoting a dialogue than it is about my limited thoughts.
I hope you will join the discussion. And thank you for reading!
For more information from Michael Sandel and his new book, click here to see a transcript from a live chat with the Daily Beast.