TED Talks: Why We Shouldn’t Trust Markets with Our Civil Life

I’ve featured Prof. Sandel, of Harvard, on this site before. His political philosophy involves powerful use of classic theories applied to modern issues in ways that compel deep thought about how we approach and react to different policy in our modern world. I love the effort given to truly contemplating the existential implications of some real world data and how it frames or ought to frame political debates.

Sandel’s talk is not a direct critique of my previously featured talk from Michael Porter on the potential for businesses to tackle social problems (an idea I believe  in myself), but a philosophical compliment to balance the hope of that notion with the political reality of allowing theories of “the market” to dictate too much.

In the past three decades, says Michael Sandel, the US has drifted from a market economy to a market society; it’s fair to say that an American’s experience of shared civic life depends on how much money they have. (Three key examples: access to education, access to justice, political influence.) In a talk and audience discussion, Sandel asks us to think honestly on this question: In our current democracy, is too much for sale?

Michael Sandel teaches political philosophy at Harvard, exploring some of the most hotly contested moral and political issues of our time.