Michael Sandel: What Money Can’t Buy – The Moral Limits of Markets
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Michael Sandel’s What Money Can’t Buy builds on an argument from his Tanner Lectures on Human Values delivered at Oxford University in 1998. The book is not about moral norms within markets, but on the spheres of social interaction that should not be organized through markets for moral reasons. Thus, Sandel’s thesis is about what money cannot buy in a normative sense, i.e. what it should not be able to buy. This is what is meant by the reference to the moral limits of markets.
Sandel begins with a description of market triumphalism as it occurred within the past three decades. He calls attention to the phenomenon that more and more spheres of social interaction are structured by market mechanisms, which can be observed in the increasing influence of markets in the allocation of health, education or security. Sandel notes that this change does not come about through deliberate choice, but emerges unintentionally. Yet, reflecting on the expanding role of markets raises the central...