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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

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  3,663 ratings  ·  454 reviews
Paperback. Pub Date :2012-04-26 Pages: 248 Language: English Publisher: Allen Lane Should we pay children to read books or to get good grades Is it ethical to pay people to test risky new drugs or to donate their organs What about hiring mercenaries to fight our wars. outsourcing inmates to for-profit prisons. auctioning admission to elite universities. or selling citizens ...more
Paperback, Open Market Edition, 244 pages
Published April 2012 by Allen Lane (first published 2012)
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knig
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
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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
Sean
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
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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
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Bruce
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
Haplea
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
Mike
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
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Don
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
Carla
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
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Mark Crawford
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
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Kate Lawrence
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
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Carsten


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
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manwithoutqualities
Disappointing for such a formidable mind. A book has been spun out from what should have only been a popular opinion piece in some magazine.
Courtney
Apr 25, 2012 Courtney marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Note to self: also watch youtube videos of this guy's Harvard lectures.
Richard Block

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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Aries Poon
I like Michael Sandel's What Money Can't Buy, in spite of some of his contestable arguments and examples. Our society really needs substantial discussion on morality and value, not just efficiency, and the book makes that happen.

Sandel's theory is that, market economics have expanded into many arenas where he argues they are not supposed to. For instance, a Texan government pays kids from underperformed public schools US$2 to read a book. Sandel argued that, while the US$2 does incentivize the k
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John Martindale
I watched Michael Sandel's excellent lectures on Justice, on Youtube, and i found his writing style, much like his Lecturing style. Throughout the book he is asking questions and allow differing opinions to be voiced and eventually states his own view. I definitely agreed with Sandel on somethings, like bribing children to to school work, often back-fires, and how paying folks to do what its already is there duty to do, is not always the best thing. And how placing a price take on somethings che ...more
Billie Pritchett
Michael Sandel's book What Money Can't Buy argues that much of American society, and surely other post-industial nations, has shifted from dealing in a market economy to being a market society. This means that what many of what were once viewed as public or social goods have increasingly become interpreted as market or marketable goods. To take an example, whereas once line-standing at amusement parks or ball games was a shared experience for rich and poor people, now for the right price people ...more
Alun Williams
I have sometimes been puzzled by how left-leaning people are outraged when privatisation, or the introduction of a market, are proposed as reforms to how a public service is delivered. I have never really understood why somebody would care about this, so long as the job gets done better and more efficiently. This book has changed my thinking, and I think its message needs to be debated widely and publicly.
The author, Michael Sandel, is an American political philosopher, and a professor at Harvar
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Jeremy
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
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
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Anagha
Michael Sandel’s What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets succeeds in irrevocably changing our perception of the possible extent of boredom. It leaves an indelible mark on the mind by making the most mundane tasks seem spellbinding and the most aggravating music sound like the singing of angels. By providing hardly an underlying argument to the 200-plus pages of writing, Sandel effectively teaches us that one can not turn back time.

The old adage of “Don’t judge a book by its cover” come
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Jon
Sandel is a wonderfully clear writer, whose course on justice at Harvard is supposedly one of the most popular at the university. Here he lists all the ways market norms have crept into our lives and replaced other values. His first contrast is between the ethics of the queue (first come first served) being transformed to the ethics of the market (everything is for sale and you get what you pay for). His examples range from relatively innocent and ad hoc (bribing a maitre d' for a good table) to ...more
Helen Driver
Now here’s a book I’d been dying to read! When it came out in hardback last year, I didn’t fancy forking out the £18 for it – that’s something that MY money couldn’t buy for sure. But a trip to London the other day took me near to Foyles, and it would have been rude not to go in and have a little browse. And suddenly I saw that this was now out in paperback, with a really lovely (if somewhat unrelated) cover, so I snapped it up.

What Money Can’t Buy is Sandel’s take on the moral aspect of markets
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Peggie
Yes, there are some things money can't and shouldn't buy. But I think the real gem in this book is the author's reasoning. He doesn't just say buying adoptions is bad - but gives reasoned arguments about why that is bad. It was an eye opening book.

The author has this conclusion: “At a time or rising inequality, the marketization of everything means that people of affluence and people of modest means lead increasingly separate lives. We live and work and shop and play in different places. Our ch
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Barnabas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Philip
Spoiler Alert: there is NOTHING that money can't buy. This book argues that there SHOULD be.
Michael Sandel is Professor of Government at Harvard. He gives a very popular series of lectures on Justice each year. [They are on YouTube.]
He's a proponent/critic of the Theory of Justice (John Rawls) that suggests there should be a "veil of ignorance" applied whenever rules or laws are devised. This "veil" essentially blinds people to all facts about themselves that might cloud what their notion of jus
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Altonmann
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
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Matthew
The author's repeated "arguments" for why some things should be above market forces are simply undistilled sentiment that subjecting things to market forces degrades them. He gives little good reason or evidence for this.

He also suggests that market transactions are unfair and coercive if one party involved is rather desperate for the benefit from the transaction. So he concludes, for instance, that paying a couple to display ads on their house in order to avoid foreclosure is immoral, because
...more
Ashley
While Sandel makes some interesting points and relates his hypothesis to contemporary news very well, the book itself felt much too repetitive. This is a topic that surely could have been a 15-20 page paper. The content itself did not fill up an entire book, and this was clear in the vast number of examples Sandel insisted on using. Small points of actual matter were interspersed with repetitive and often only tangentially-related ideas, which made the book tedious overall.
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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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More about Michael J. Sandel...
Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? The Case Against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering Democracy's Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy Liberalism and the Limits of Justice Justice: A Reader

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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.” 5 likes
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