What Money Can’t Buy

The moral limits of markets

Michael J. Sandel

Cash for sterilization, tradable procreation permits, paying to kill endangered species, betting on strangers’ deaths, commercialism, to name just a few topics discussed in a relatively short 200-page book.


Born in the late 20th century in a post-war country, I think it is such luck that my less-civilized background gives me a repugnant feeling that now I am sitting here and suddenly realized how much the economic reasoning had penetrated our non-market aspects.

Paying a sum of money to hunt endangered species, making money from strangers’ deaths or putting advertisements on one’s forehead makes a perfect economic sense. We do not only get Win-Win deals but also maximize the utility of the market (those in need of money get money while those in need of services get services).

Meanwhile, these activities mark a growing deterioration of morality within us, changing pristine meanings of values (babies, life and death matters, endangered species, etc.) once priceless. The price tags corrupt humans.

While it sounds unrealistically severe, I think we are living within that system where many sides of the truth are deliberately concealed.

The book is thought-provoking and provocative. I highly recommend it to all.

Summer 2020

March 28, 2020, 3:00:00 PM

5.0

philosophy

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What Money Can’t Buy