Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Democracy's Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy” as Want to Read:
Democracy's Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Democracy's Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  173 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
The defect, Sandel maintains, lies in the impoverished vision of citizenship and community shared by Democrats and Republicans alike. American politics has lost its civic voice, leaving both liberals and conservatives unable to inspire the sense of community and civic engagement that self-government requires.

In search of a public philosophy adequate to our time, Sandel ran
Paperback, 432 pages
Published February 6th 1998 by Belknap Press (first published 1996)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Democracy's Discontent, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Democracy's Discontent

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
T Fool
Feb 17, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed-books
Accept this as an argument from ignorance, as you wish.

Only a jurist could give proper respect to the tight argumentation and layering of precedent laid down by Michael Sandel in his book, which is a political argument hoisted onto the written page with the heft of a compulsive legal brief.

It’s put forward as a philosophical exploration, a foundational work for public examination. It seeks to guide public understanding and ultimately attitudes and policy. The understanding of those in power or
William Randolph
Dec 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommended to William Randolph by: Katie Spencer
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Billie Pritchett
Michael Sandel's Democracy's Discontent is a miss for me because I think he misunderstands what liberalism is in its classical philosophical sense. Classical Liberalism presumes the most limited form of government possible on the grounds that we ought to be suspicious of any person or institution claiming to possess political power. Sandel writes that liberalism is about being neutral toward conceptions of the good life but I think this is just a misunderstanding of what liberalism is. Sandel be ...more
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sandel's book, published over twenty years ago, is remarkably relevant to contemporary political debates. The bulk of the book charts the eclipse of civic republicanism in American constitutional law and political debates.

Civic republicanism is contrasted with procedural liberalism, most famously articulated by Rawls. Where procedural liberalism conceptualizes the self as independent of its social relationships, civic republicanism highlights the embedded self, where identity is intrinsically c
Pete Davis
Aug 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
A great thesis, precisely articulated: (1) there have been two strands in American public philosophy, one from the Founding to the 20th century, and one ascendent today: Civic Republicanism, which argues that the government should take an interest in forming us into citizens for self-government; and Liberalism, which argues the government should be neutral about how we end up, only there to maximize voluntary choice; and (2) the case that a nation neutral about ends will eventually corrode and b ...more
Mar 03, 2011 rated it liked it
A compelling critique of what he dubs "procedural liberalism," I find myself attracted to Sandel's intent but repelled by some of the consequences of his philosophy. I for one am not quite ready to abandon the importance of individual liberty and to give a privileged position for religious appeals in politics.
Jun 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Interesting examination of the erosion of (small 'r') republican values and exploration of how the virtue of civic participation might be restored. Lends an interesting alternative perspective to contemporary (and historical) political discourse.
It was hard to not doubt most of what Sandel said, but it may have something to do with living in a liberal democracy most of my life.
George C. Anthony
Mar 26, 2008 rated it it was ok
Talks alot about how America's government was formed, and how we've lost track of the idea of a democratic republic.
Oct 05, 2007 marked it as to-read
I received this recommendation for a catholic political wonk...we'll see if i can make it through...
Hu Xiaodi
Jul 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
an interesting and difficult book to read
Sep 22, 2012 added it
Great book on public policy, and why the procedural republic is a non-starter.
Nov 21, 2009 added it
Shelves: political, science
Hannah Thomas
Jan 30, 2015 rated it liked it
The reason I rated this so low is because of the politics are 'opinionated'. The author did clear some things up, yes, but it was based on only one's perspective
rated it really liked it
Jan 24, 2015
rated it really liked it
Jan 06, 2013
Stuart Elliott
rated it it was amazing
Feb 17, 2013
rated it it was amazing
Oct 12, 2015
rated it liked it
Mar 23, 2011
Thomas Baughman
rated it liked it
Apr 18, 2010
Elizabeth Theiss
rated it it was amazing
Mar 29, 2013
Yahaira Delamora
rated it it was amazing
Jun 16, 2010
rated it really liked it
Sep 28, 2012
Julien Leger
rated it really liked it
May 20, 2012
Travis Brouwer
rated it liked it
Sep 26, 2015
rated it really liked it
Aug 15, 2007
rated it really liked it
Apr 02, 2017
David  Sollenberger
rated it really liked it
Jan 12, 2018
rated it really liked it
Oct 12, 2007
rated it it was amazing
May 10, 2011
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Taking Rights Seriously
  • Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays
  • Who Governs?: Democracy And Power In An American City
  • The True and Only Heaven: Progress and Its Critics
  • Whose Justice? Which Rationality?
  • Spheres of Justice: A Defense of Pluralism and Equality
  • Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy
  • Natural Law and Natural Rights (Clarendon Law Series)
  • Multiculturalism: Expanded Paperback Edition
  • Power: A Radical View
  • Contemporary Political Philosophy
  • The Liberal Tradition in America
  • Natural Right and History
  • Philosophers Without Gods: Meditations on Atheism and the Secular Life
  • Anarchy, State, and Utopia
  • The New Science of Politics: An Introduction
  • The Rise and Fall of the Elites
  • The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy
Michael J. Sandel (b. 1953) is an American political philosopher wholives in Brookline, Massachusetts. He is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University, where he has taught since 1980. He is best known for the Harvard course 'Justice', which is available to view online, and for his critique of John Rawls' A Theory of Justice in his first book, Liberalism and the L ...more
More about Michael J. Sandel

Nonfiction Deals

  • A Guide to the Present Moment
    $7.99 $2.99
  • Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World's Most Notorious Nazi
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Breaks of the Game
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt
    $12.74 $2.99
  • How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Dry
    $9.99 $3.99
  • Animal Liberation: The Definitive Classic of the Animal Movement
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Measure of a Man
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions
    $13.99 $2.99
  • 100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Best Friends: The True Story of the World's Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Let. It. Go.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis
    $9.24 $1.99
  • Clara's War: One Girl's Story of Survival
    $8.49 $1.99
  • The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey
    $17.48 $1.99
  • The Story of Sushi: An Unlikely Saga of Raw Fish and Rice
    $12.49 $1.99
  • The Noticer Returns: Sometimes You Find Perspective, and Sometimes Perspective Finds You
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Scar Tissue
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Running with Scissors
    $9.99 $3.99
  • The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics
    $9.99 $2.99
  • 1968: The Year That Rocked the World
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love and Manic Depression
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between)
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes
    $9.99 $2.99
  • And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Vegetable Butcher: How to Select, Prep, Slice, Dice, and Masterfully Cook Vegetables from Artichokes to Zucchini
    $22.95 $1.99
  • Facing Your Giants: The God Who Made a Miracle Out of David Stands Ready to Make One Out of You
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin...Every Inch of It
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Egg and I
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More
    $12.74 $1.99
  • City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas
    $14.99 $2.99
  • Just Another Kid
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Second World War
    $12.99 $3.99
  • Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids
    $11.24 $1.99
  • Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man's Voice from the Silence of Autism
    $13.99 $1.99
  • I Am Not Myself These Days (P.S.)
    $13.24 $1.99
  • In the Beginning...Was the Command Line
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Starvation Heights: A True Story of Murder and Malice in the Woods of the Pacific Northwest
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Toltec Art of Life and Death
    $11.49 $1.99
  • Put Your Dream to the Test: 10 Questions to Help You See It and Seize It
    $9.49 $2.99
  • The Diva Rules: Ditch the Drama, Find Your Strength, and Sparkle Your Way to the Top
    $17.99 $2.99
  • A Brief History of Time
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone--Especially Ourselves
    $9.99 $1.99
  • All My Road Before Me: The Diary of C. S. Lewis, 1922-1927
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Penguin Lessons
    $12.99 $1.99
  • What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School: Notes from a Street-smart Executive
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
    $10.99 $2.99
  • Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011
    $12.99 $2.99
  • What We Talk About When We Talk About God
    $11.49 $2.99
  • Running with the Kenyans: Passion, Adventure, and the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Johnny Cash: The Life
    $12.99 $3.99
  • No God But God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Can't Help Myself: Lessons & Confessions from a Modern Advice Columnist
    $13.99 $3.99
  • Seabiscuit: An American Legend
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local - and Helped Save an American Town
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business
    $12.99 $2.99
“Toleration and freedom and fairness are values too, and they can hardly be defended by the claim that no values can be defended. So it is a mistake to affirm...that all values are merely subjective.” 1 likes
More quotes…