Michael Sandel is a professor of political philosophy at Harvard University and the bestselling author of books on justice, ethics, democracy, and markets that have been translated into over 30 languages. Described as a “philosopher with the global profile of a rock star,” Sandel is known across the globe for his lively Socratic debates that aim to restore the lost art of democratic argument. He poses open-ended, often provocative questions, and encourages audience members to share their differing perspectives. The result is a highly engaging event that promotes deeper understanding of big issues through the dissection of ideas from all sides.
Sandel’s books tackle the most vexing moral and civic questions of our time. Democracy’s Discontent, just released in a new 25th anniversary edition to address our perilous times, has been described as “essential–and ultimately hopeful–reading for all those who wonder if our democratic experiment will survive in the twenty-first century.” His book, The Tyranny of Merit: Can We Find the Common Good?, seeks a way beyond the polarized politics of our time. And his classic book Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?, which has sold more than two million copies, shows how philosophy can help us think our way through the ethical dilemmas that arise in politics, business, and everyday life.
Sandel’s course “Justice,” one of the most popular in Harvard’s history, is freely available online and has been viewed by tens of millions of people worldwide. His BBC series The Global Philosopher, explores ethical aspects of new technology, climate change, free speech, and other topical issues with participants from dozens of countries. His lectures have packed such venues as St. Paul’s Cathedral (London), the Sydney Opera House (Australia), the Delacorte Theater in New York’s Central Park, and an outdoor stadium in Seoul (S. Korea), where 14,000 came to hear him speak.
Sandel has been a visiting professor at the Sorbonne, delivered the Tanner Lectures on Human Values at Oxford, served on the U.S. President’s Council on Bioethics, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A graduate of Brandeis University, he received his doctorate from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.
Justice: An Interactive Debate
Michael Sandel has been said to foster “the best Socratic dialogues since Socrates.” With the goal of restoring the lost art of democratic argument, he presents an open-ended, controversial question, and guides the audience through a civil exchange of ideas. Suspense builds as the microphone travels across the audience as you never know where the conversation will go. Audience members walk away energized and with a deeper understanding of the issues, having dissected perspectives from conflicting angles. Based on his world-renowned course at Harvard, this presentation is an opportunity for your audience to join together and think through the hard questions and ethical dilemmas of everyday business, politics, life. The Justice experience is different with every audience and is highly customizable to your event. Dig deep into the topics that matter most to your audience, from broad issues like climate change, artificial intelligence, or affirmative action to more specific concerns like employee vs employer pay or the role media plays in our democracy.
One of the biggest threats to democracy today is ourselves. Polarization and tribalism have deeply eroded our foundations of unity. Individualism has displaced past obligations to community and the common good. Mass globalization has created a society of winners and losers, of haves and have nots, driving further division. At the core of this issue, argues Michael Sandel, is that we’ve forgotten how to listen to each other, to discuss values in a civil manner. The further we retreat into our physical bubbles and online echo chambers, the less we bear witness to and value the humanity of those dissimilar to us. We must repair the tears in the social fabric before it’s too late. In this talk, Michael Sandel explores the roots of our polarization and suggests what we can do to reunite across differences to bring democracy back from the brink.
The Tyranny of Merit
We live in a world where hard work leads to success and prosperity—or so they say. The reality is that the odds are stacked in favor of the already fortunate, and those born without means will often work themselves to the bone only to barely scrape by. But the idea that we live in a meritocracy is driving misinformed attitudes about success. Society’s “winners” see their gains as borne from merit alone, discounting the role luck plays in their abundance. Those on the opposite end of the spectrum are blamed for their own misfortune, rather than being acknowledged as victims of circumstance. In this presentation, Michael Sandel challenges the prevailing ideology of meritocracy and rejects our reliance on credentialism. He argues for a reevaluation of values to create a more just society and heal the widening divide between so-called winners and losers.