A liberal society seeks not to impose a single way of life, but to leave its citizens as free as possible to choose their own values and ends. It therefore must govern by principles of justice that do not presuppose any particular vision of the good life. But can any such principles be found? And if not, what are the consequences for justice as a moral and political ideal? These are the questions Michael Sandel takes up in this penetrating critique (...) of contemporary liberalism. Sandel locates modern liberalism in the tradition of Kant, and focuses on its most influential recent expression in the work of John Rawls. In the most important challenge yet to Rawls' theory of justice, Sandel traces the limits of liberalism to the conception of the person that underlies it, and argues for a deeper understanding of community than liberalism allows. (shrink)
Introduction: Doing the right thing -- Utilitarianism : Bentham and J.S. Mill -- Libertarianism -- John Locke -- Markets and morals -- Immanuel Kant -- John Rawls -- Affirmative action -- Aristotle -- Liberals and communitarians -- Conclusion: Reconnecting politics and morals.
The right-wing populism ascendant today is a symptom of the failure of progressive politics. Central to this failure is the uncritical embrace of a neo-liberal version of globalization that benefits those at the top but leaves ordinary citizens feeling disempowered. Progressive parties are unlikely to win back public support unless they learn from the populist protest that has displaced them —not by replicating its xenophobia and strident nationalism, but by taking seriously the legitimate grievances with which these ugly sentiments are (...) entangled. These grievances are not only economic but also moral and cultural; they are not only about wages and jobs but also about social esteem. (shrink)
In Cultivating Citizens Dwight Allman and Michael Beaty bring together some of America's leading social and political thinkers to address the question of civic vitality in contemporary American society. The resulting volume is a serious reflection on the history of civil society and a rich and rewarding conversation about the future American civic order.
In the West, Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel is a thinker of unusual prominence. In China, he's a phenomenon, greeted by vast crowds. China Daily reports that he has acquired a popularity "usually reserved for Hollywood movie stars." China Newsweek declared him the "most influential foreign figure" of the year. In Sandel the Chinese have found a guide through the ethical dilemmas created by the nation's swift embrace of a market economy--a guide whose communitarian ideas resonate with aspects of China's own (...) rich and ancient philosophical traditions. Chinese citizens often describe a sense that, in sprinting ahead, they have bounded past whatever barriers once held back the forces of corruption and moral disregard. The market economy has lifted millions from poverty but done little to define ultimate goals for individuals or the nation. Is the market all there is? In this context, Sandel's charismatic, interactive lecturing style, which roots moral philosophy in real-world scenarios, has found an audience struggling with questions of their responsibility to one another. Encountering China brings together leading experts in Confucian and Daoist thought to explore the connections and tensions revealed in this unlikely episode of Chinese engagement with the West. The result is a profound examination of diverse ideas about the self, justice, community, gender, and public good. With a foreword by Evan Osnos that considers Sandel's fame and the state of moral dialogue in China, the book will itself be a major contribution to the debates that Sandel sparks in East and West alike.--. (shrink)