Michael Sandel



Michael Sandel speaker, harvard, TED, philosopher

Harvard political philosopher and bestselling author Michael Sandel challenges audiences to examine the ethical dilemmas we confront in politics, business, and our everyday lives.


One of Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers, Sandel has been described as “the most relevant living philosopher”, “a rock-star moralist” (Newsweek), and “the most famous teacher of philosophy in the world.” (New Republic). His writings – on justice, democracy, morals, and markets – have been translated into 27 languages.



Sandel’s legendary course “Justice” has enrolled over 15,000 students and was the first Harvard course to be made freely available online and on public television. It has been viewed by millions of people around the world, including in China, where China Newsweek named him the “most influential foreign figure of the year.

His BBC Radio 4 series “The Public Philosopher” explores the philosophical ideas lying behind the headlines with audiences around the world; one program, a discussion of violence against women, was recorded in India, following a notorious rape incident in New Delhi. Another took place in Britain’s Palace of Westminster, where Sandel led a debate about democracy with members of Parliament and the public.  In Brazil, he recently led a debate on corruption and the ethics of everyday life that reached an audience of 19 million on Globo TV.  In Japan, his series on ethics for NHK, Japan’s national television network, convened students from China, Japan, and South Korea to discuss whether moral responsibility for historic wrongs extends across generations.

Sandel has been a pioneer in the use of new technology to promote global public discourse.  In a new BBC series, “The Global Philosopher”, Sandel leads video-linked discussions with participants from over 30 countries on the ethical aspects of issues such as immigration and climate change.

In his New York Times bestseller ‘Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?’, Michael Sandel takes readers on a fascinating journey of moral reflection and shows how reasoned debate can illuminate democratic life. ‘Justice’ has sold over two million copies worldwide and inspired public debate about the ethical and civic questions of our time. In his latest bestseller, ‘What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets’, Sandel invites readers to rethink the role that money and markets should play in our lives. One of Foreign Policy’s “20 must-read books” of the year, it is now a six-part series hosted by the Ford Foundation and moderated by the Financial Times’ Rana Foroohar.

Michael Sandel served for four years on the President’s Council on Bioethics, exploring the ethical implications of new biomedical technologies. This prompted him to write ‘The Case Against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering’, a book about the moral quandaries that arise when we seek to perfect our children and ourselves.


Described by The Guardian as “the man who is currently the most effective communicator of ideas in English”, Sandel’s books and online lectures have brought him “the kind of popularity usually reserved for Hollywood movie stars and NBA players.” (China Daily).


His recent lecture tours have taken him across five continents and packed such venues as St. Paul’s Cathedral (London), the Sydney Opera House, and an outdoor amphitheater in Seoul, Korea, where 14,000 people came to hear him speak. Moreover, for his strong work “on the normative foundations of liberal democracy as well as the defense of civic virtues,” Michael Sandel won the Princess of Asturias Award in Social Sciences from Spain, in 2018.

Pandemic Ethics: Covid and the Common Good (Lecture format or interactive session).

How should we think our way through the ethical dilemmas raised by the COVID-19 pandemic?. Are we all in this together, or are essential workers being asked to bear unfair risks?

Should we use surveillance technologies to track and enforce social distancing?. Should governmnets issue "inmmunity passports" to determine who may go back to work and school?

Will the crisis deepen inequality or bring forth a politics of the common good?

Justice in a time of Pandemic: will the coronavirus change our way of life?.

Hard questions, Big Ideas: How to tohink about moral and ethical dilemmas in a global age.

- Globalization and its discontents.
- Income Inequality.
- Is Globalization good for Democracy?.
- Capitalism, Democracy and the Common Good.

What´s become of the truth?.

Has politics lost contact with the truth?. If so, does this pose a threat to democracy?. Is laying in politics always wrong?. Should Facebook and other social media platforms allow false statements in political ads?. Why do we seem to lack agreement on basics facts?. Has the authority of science become a partisan matter?.

The lost art of democratic argument: What´s become of civility?.

- Restoring Civility to Democratic Politics.
- Why is Politics Today so Bitter and Partisan, and what can we do about it?.
- Does religion belong in Politics?.
- The role of Faith in Public Life.

Justice: What´s the right thing to do?.

- Justice for All.
- Doing the Right Thing in Public and Private Life.
- What do we owe one another as citizens?.
- Reasoning together about hard moral questions

Market, Morals and Civic Life.

Do bankers deserve to make hundreds of times what school teachers earn?. Is the free market fair?. What have we learned from the financial crisis?. What is the real cost of economic inequality?. What is the role of markets in achieving the public good?.

A lively discussion of markets, democracy, and the big ethical questions that confront global society today.

Bioethics & Technology.

- Ethics, Biotechnology and the Future of Human Nature.
- The Case Against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering?.
- Can Machine Out Think Us?.
- Ethics in the Age of A.I, Robotics and Big Data.

Financial / Business / Corporate Ethics.

- What´s the Right Thing to Do?.
- Contending with Disagreeent.
- Moral Dilemmas at Home and Abroad.
- Leadership and Moral Argument.

The Tyranny of Merit: What's Become of the Common Good?

A Times Literary Supplement’s Book of the Year 2020
A New Statesman's Best Book of 2020
A Bloomberg's Best Book of 2020
A Guardian Best Book About Ideas of 2020

The world-renowned philosopher and author of the bestselling Justice explores the central question of our time: What has become of the common good?

These are dangerous times for democracy. We live in an age of winners and losers, where the odds are stacked in favor of the already fortunate. Stalled social mobility and entrenched inequality give the lie to the American credo that "you can make it if you try". The consequence is a brew of anger and frustration that has fueled populist protest and extreme polarization, and led to deep distrust of both government and our fellow citizens--leaving us morally unprepared to face the profound challenges of our time.

World-renowned philosopher Michael J. Sandel argues that to overcome the crises that are upending our world, we must rethink the attitudes toward success and failure that have accompanied globalization and rising inequality. Sandel shows the hubris a meritocracy generates among the winners and the harsh judgement it imposes on those left behind, and traces the dire consequences across a wide swath of American life. He offers an alternative way of thinking about success--more attentive to the role of luck in human affairs, more conducive to an ethic of humility and solidarity, and more affirming of the dignity of work. The Tyranny of Merit points us toward a hopeful vision of a new politics of the common good.

The Tyranny of Merit: What's Become of the Common Good?

What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets.

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?

What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets.

Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?.

What are our obligations to others as people in a free society? Should government tax the rich to help the poor? Is the free market fair? Is it sometimes wrong to tell the truth? Is killing sometimes morally required? Is it possible, or desirable, to legislate morality? Do individual rights and the common good conflict?

Michael J. Sandel's "Justice" course is one of the most popular and influential at Harvard. Up to a thousand students pack the campus theater to hear Sandel relate the big questions of political philosophy to the most vexing issues of the day, and this fall, public television will air a series based on the course. Justice offers readers the same exhilarating journey that captivates Harvard students. This book is a searching, lyrical exploration of the meaning of justice, one that invites readers of all political persuasions to consider familiar controversies in fresh and illuminating ways. Affirmative action, same-sex marriage, physician-assisted suicide, abortion, national service, patriotism and dissent, the moral limits of markets—Sandel dramatizes the challenge of thinking through these con?icts, and shows how a surer grasp of philosophy can help us make sense of politics, morality, and our own convictions as well. Justice is lively, thought-provoking, and wise—an essential new addition to the small shelf of books that speak convincingly to the hard questions of our civic life.

Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?.