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

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,144 Ratings  ·  596 Reviews
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
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Nov 18, 2013 knig rated it liked it
Sandel is worried about the lack of moral limits of markets and posits that the time has come to hold a debate, as a society, that would enable us to decide, again as a society, where ‘markets serve the public good and where they don’t belong’. This to address the precipitous decline in moral values and the ensuing corruption when having a market economy morphs into ‘being’ a market economy.

Objection. Since when, pray tell, have moral values been determined democratically in any society. What ho
Tiffoknee the 3rd Conner
Not to brag or anything (or maybe just to brag a little), but I actually knew of Michael Sandel's scholarship way before he wrote Justice, a book I didn't even read, but which achieved international acclaim and thus gave Sandel that coveted status of Superstar Public Intellectual. My introduction to Sandel's work was Democracy's Discontent. I did read the excerpt of What Money Can't Buy in the The Atlantic and enjoyed it. But I don't know that Dr. Sandel needed an entire book to make his argumen ...more
Jan 06, 2013 Sean rated it did not like it
I praise Michael Sandel for pillorying markets when they traffic in morally objectionable goods and services. But economists have admitted the amorality of markets. Markets do the best job of allocating scarcity but make no claim as to the worthiness of the good or service allocated to begin with. And so, yes, markets need limits, but this does not diminish the appropriateness of using a market based approach for morally neutral or beneficial goods and services.

Sandel spends too much of the boo
Michael Sandel is a storyteller. His stories are amusing ones like those in Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, but Sandel’s stories urge us to look deeper: to look meaning rather than just personal gain. Perhaps not everything should be for sale. Sandel’s stories make us wonder what our responsibilities are in the marketplace economists have made for us. He prods us to ask ourselves if the world we have is the one we want. Judging from the reaction of the pop ...more
Quang Khuê
May 22, 2016 Quang Khuê rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cuốn này của Michael J. Sandel dễ đọc hơn cuốn "Phải trái đúng sai" đã xuất bản trước đây. Có lẽ vì chủ đề hẹp hơn. Tác giả đặt ra câu hỏi: có nên áp dụng thị trường tự do vào một số hoạt động (đang được tranh cãi) trong cuộc sống.

Để trả lời câu hỏi đó, ông đặt ra hai câu hỏi nhỏ liên quan đến luận điểm ủng hộ thị trường tự do của các nhà kinh tế học:

1) Thị trường tự do có thực sự "tự do", có đảm bảo bình đẳng giữa bên mua và bên bán. Ví dụ: những người bán nội tạng có thực sự được quyền chọn lự
Jun 02, 2013 Bruce rated it really liked it
Michael Sandel is Professor of Government at Harvard University, the teacher of the acclaimed course on Justice that has been expanded into a public online course and that formed the basis for Sandel’s critically praised book by the same title. In this present book, Sandel examines the intrusion of market thinking into more and more aspects of contemporary life. “Today, almost everything is up for sale.” Increasingly, we allow market values to govern more and more parts of our lives. The commodi ...more
Mike Edwards
Sandel here gets all the big things right--and a shockingly large number of the little things wrong.

His main thesis is absolutely correct: the introduction of money and markets can fundamentally change the character or nature of a particular transaction. Sandel is correct that society often does not fully appreciate this basic fact--which causes us to use monetary incentives in ways that can be more detrimental than beneficial.

Most of the time, but not all of the time. Sandel states that he's ju
Jul 10, 2013 Haplea rated it it was amazing
It is an easy reading book about the continuous progressive encroachment of free market mechanisms of putting a price on everything, into ethical values and into the common patrimony of society. The author is showing by examples how in the last decades in the global capitalist world, little by little, everything has become for buying or sale: surrogate mothers, human organs and blood, politicians, children, the right to pollute, honor, integrity, power and even the manipulation of collective con ...more
Aug 17, 2013 Don rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, society
The problem with this book is, when you put it down, you walk around looking at the world saying, "Why the hell is THAT considered a marketable part of life?!" "And THAT! What the heck is going on here? It all just snuck up on us... and we lost." Seriously, this is a very interesting read that is a real eye-opener. The skyboxification of America, separating EVERYTHING via the lens of "what would somebody pay for THIS," and what can money NOT buy -- rather, SHOULD not be able to buy -- are substa ...more
Nov 08, 2012 Carla rated it liked it
I haven't yet read Justice, but after reading this I certainly will.

This book helped me spotlight an uncomfortable internal tug-of-war that's been going on inside my head for most of my career -where is the line? As a marketer for most of my career, I have aggressively pursued every possible angle to get closer and closer to my target audience and push them to a desired action. As a startup manager in the day, nothing was beyond redesign and everything had a business model. But there was a nagg
Jul 24, 2013 Mike rated it really liked it
Money itself is an allusion. And this book pokes at the growing assumption that everything these days has a price. Sandel argues effectively the futility of assigning a value to tricky moral issues and the corrupting nature of money on the things a value has been slapped on.

Here's the deal. The market mindset shouldn't be applied to all things in our life. Why do we like putting a value on things? Well, it's neat and tidy. It absolves people of true responsibility for their actions. The downside
Kate Lawrence
Aug 12, 2013 Kate Lawrence rated it really liked it
Shelves: social-issues
Anyone who is dismayed to see the unprecedented reach of advertising, corporate naming rights of public venues, and monetary payments for behavior formerly expected without incentives--like getting good grades or standing in line--will be glad to see an examination of how far markets should be allowed to penetrate our society. And those who haven't noticed these things can use the book to catch up.
Sandel, a Harvard professor of government, doesn't strive to make a particular case, however. In th
Oct 10, 2012 Carsten rated it it was amazing

Five stars for the topic and bringing it to the attention of the public. The topic of how far reaching we as a society want markets to be is a highly important one and it is had much too little, actually not at all I would say. Markets have become the myths of our time, they never fail and are always right and because of that they should have a broader reach. That is the typical argument but is that really the case? Do we want as a society be fully market driven?
Where the book could have been
May 17, 2016 Jino rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
برای ما که از غول های بزرگ سرمایه داری مثل آمریکا فاصله داریم کتاب بسیار جالبی است. ولی ای کاش نویسنده در انتها به تحلیل کلی این فاجعه از دیدگاه جامعه شناختی و روان شناختی می پرداخت
Nguyên ngộ ngộ
Oct 19, 2015 Nguyên ngộ ngộ rated it it was amazing
Shelves: before-25, thinker
Một câu chuyện, nghìn cách nghĩ!
Để mua bán thì có “thị trường”, tức là có cái “CHỢ”. Chợ lâu nay bán những thứ như: xe cộ, nhà cửa, máy móc, áo quần, bánh trái….Câu hỏi đặt ra là, liệu có phải THỨ GÌ CŨNG ĐƯỢC BÁN Ở CHỢ hay không?
Mua bán thận, mua bán máu, mua bán quyền sinh thêm con, mua bán quyền chen lên đầu hàng để khỏi chờ đợi khi mua vé, mua quyền chạy vào làn xe ưu tiên, trả tiền cho người bị HIV AIDS để “triệt sản” họ để họ KHÔNG đẻ con mang bệnh tật liên lụy xã hội... Liệu những thứ “HÀ
Hmd Slh
Apr 06, 2016 Hmd Slh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
کتاب جامعه مصرفزده آمریکا را هدف گرفته است، جایی که زمانی سرزمین فرصتها بود و اکنون با داشتن پول هر چیزی را میتوان خرید: صندلی بهترین دانشگاهها، کُلیه، خط ویژه ترافیک، خدمت سربازی، نوزاد و دهها مورد دیگر.
نکته کلیدی نویسنده آن است که اقتصاد حد و مرزهایی دارد و متاسفانه اینک از آن مرزها تخطی کرده است و همه چیز را با تحلیل هزینه/فایده بررسی میکند.
دو برهان «عدالت» و «فساد» از سوی نویسنده برای نادرستی «فروشی» کردن همه چیز آورده شده است. آیا عادلانه است که کسی که پول دارد نسبت به آنکه ندارد، به صورت

1- این روزها همه چیز خرید و فروش میشود. جای پارک ماشینها کنار خیابانها، حق عبور و مرور خودروها در خیابانهای تهران(برچسب ترافیک)، اجازهی تحصیل در دانشگاههای شریف و تهران و امیرکبیر، تبلیغات در متروها (حتا سر به زیر ترین آدمها هم از تبلیغات مترو رهایی ندارند.)، دخترهای دماغ عملی به قیمت مهریههای سنگین، رحم زنان برای زایمان، پسربچهی 5 ساله به قیمت یک خانه و... ما هم گرفتار جهانی شدهایم که پول میتواند در آن هر کاری بکند.

2- همه چیز از برندهی نوبل اقتصاد سال 199
Jan 13, 2013 Jeremy rated it really liked it
My own initial worries were that an Ivy League professor would write an argument that requires some sort of familiarity with the vagaries of economic theory. But Sandel doesn't. He explains both the econ and the moral theory that represent the book’s central conflict/discussion in incredibly accessible terms, a prose style that seems to me entirely suitable for the target audience. There's very little disciplinary name-dropping or theoretical digression, and the presentation calls to mind an int ...more
H Wesselius
Sep 16, 2012 H Wesselius rated it really liked it
Initially not impressed as the author didn't seem to press the argument. However, he slowly and subtlety brings you around to his point of view. He asks the appropriate question; do we live in a market economy or a market society and explores the limits of the market. He wins by points when noting economists inability to measure and assess the nature of virtue which doesn't respond to market forces and the silliness of viewing it as a limited resource.

At times he questions the extension of the
Mark Crawford
Aug 11, 2013 Mark Crawford rated it it was amazing
Robert Fulford's year-end musing in The National Post, "2012, the year when money somehow became unpopular" contains a predictably jaundiced view of two recent scholarly works about contemporary capitalism, What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets by Harvard Political Theorist Michael J. Sandel, and How Much is Enough? Money and the Good Life, by Robert and Edward Skidelsky. (Since I have not read the latter work, I shall not comment upon it.)

But I have read Sandel's book and have found
This book is a mere catalog of commercialism in our society.
Since our society and culture in the United States is commercialism,
the book is merely additional noise. Merely a pile of undigested research by an academic.

If academia requires publish or perish, this belongs in the perish category. The blurb by George Will (the cipher with a bow tie) should have warned me off.

There is no point of view expressed here. The author's quiet even handed calm approach is perhaps intended as "objectivity". Ac
Robert Wechsler
Oct 15, 2015 Robert Wechsler rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This is one of the most important books that has come out in the last few years. It is about how the norms that accompany a free market approach are inappropriate to many spheres of life, such as public service, access to government officials, and the distribution of government resources. I focus on government, because I write about government ethics. But Sandel looks at other spheres of life, as well.

The ideas Sandel expresses here are anathema to libertarians, who consistently apply a free mar
Ben Thurley
May 27, 2016 Ben Thurley rated it liked it
Are there things money can't buy? Sadly, far too few. Market "values", it seems, increasingly govern the whole of our lives. Sandel regards this,
The reach of markets, and market-oriented thinking, into aspects of life traditionally governed by nonmarket norms... one of the most significant developments of our time.
He highlights the rise of for-profit health and education providers and large swathes of a nation's military outsourced to mercenary contractors, the buying of naming rights to civic
Moral Spring
Sep 01, 2015 Moral Spring rated it really liked it
SETH JORDAN | We've all seen its incessant creep into ever new aspects of our life. We've watched as the new “student crossing” sign is erected, and been mildly surprised that this one has the addition that it's been sponsored by Dunkin Donuts. We've sighed as the names of stadiums and concert halls, tournaments and concerts have shapeshifted into the FedEx Cup and the Citigroup Stadium (it's only a matter of time before they get those team names!) We've heard of stunts like body advertising (us ...more
Megan Highfill
Though the first three chapters of this book initiated internal debate about extraordinary moral issues in regarding to monetization, the author ruined his entire point by focusing on baseball and advertising in his last two chapters. Moral argument as to certain practices NOT being made into markets...NOT being able to buy children, NOT being able to take out life insurance on someone without them knowing, NOT being able to buy your spot in line to a congressional hearing...sure, those are mora ...more
Đông Huynh
Sep 26, 2014 Đông Huynh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Một cuốn sách với tựa đề đầy khiêu khích, và một sự bổ sung khá trọn vẹn cho tác phẩm "Phải trái đúng sai - Công lý, việc đúng nên làm".
Michael Sandel vẫn luôn khiến ta phải trăn trở đến tận cùng về những hóc búa về mặt đạo đức, khi con người ngày càng tiến bước trên con đường văn minh.
Yuqian Wang
Oct 08, 2015 Yuqian Wang rated it liked it
No offense but this book is more about sermonizing than an intelligent discussion of where the boundary lies when it comes to the greatest invention of capitalism. I enjoyed Mr. Sandel's book Justice very much, but I found this one quite a disappointment because it is just a collection of incidents and the author's preaching of his own moral standards. In one case he mentioned his opposition to the carbon trading mechanism, and the whole reason he came up with for his opposition is just that "It ...more
Apr 25, 2012 Courtney marked it as to-read
Note to self: also watch youtube videos of this guy's Harvard lectures.
Dec 16, 2014 Jerrod rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
I honestly did not expect much from this book, and it exceeded my expectations. There really was no clear thought out reasoning as to why we should be able to buy things on a market and not others. The book was a list of examples of things money can now buy and Sandel saying that we should be worried about this because he doesn't like it. Consider the queuing chapter: Sandel objects to the ability of paying to jump the queue because he thinks it takes away from the experience (i.e. because he do ...more
Richard Block
Jun 07, 2014 Richard Block rated it liked it

More than One Idea

According to the critics, Michael Sandel is a genius philosopher. He may be that, but this book does not really make the earth move.
When it comes to providing endless examples of how markets have overstepped the mark in our daily lives, this book knows no equal. It is full to the brim with tasteless examples that make you want to scream and kick someone. Nowhere is this intrusion worse than in the US (where else?) and it is a wonder there has not been a more passionate fight b
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Michael J. Sandel is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University, where he has taught since 1980, and the author of many books. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Michael J. Sandel ( March 5, 1953) is an American political philosopher and a professor at Harvard University. He is best known for the Harvard course 'Justice', which is available to view online, and f
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“A growing body of work in social psychology offers a possible explanation for this commercialization effect. These studies highlight the difference between intrinsic motivations (such as moral conviction or interest in the task at hand) and external ones (such as money or other tangible rewards). When people are engaged in an activity they consider intrinsically worthwhile, offering them money may weaken their motivation by depreciating or "crowding out" their intrinsic interest or commitment.” 7 likes
“As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the state is not far from its fall.” 2 likes
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