The world-renowned philosopher and author of the bestselling Justice explores the central question of our time: What has become of the common good? These are dangerous times for democracy. We live in an age of winners and losers, where the odds are stacked in favor of the already fortunate. Stalled social mobility and entrenched inequality give the lie to the American credo that "you can make it if you try". The consequence is a brew of anger and frustration that has fueled populist protest and extreme polarization, and led to deep distrust of both government and our fellow citizens--leaving us morally unprepared to face the profound challenges of our time. World-renowned philosopher Michael J. Sandel argues that to overcome the crises that are upending our world, we must rethink the attitudes toward success and failure that have accompanied globalization and rising inequality. Sandel shows the hubris a meritocracy generates among the winners and the harsh judgement it imposes on those left behind, and traces the dire consequences across a wide swath of American life. He offers an alternative way of thinking about success--more attentive to the role of luck in human affairs, more conducive to an ethic of humility and solidarity, and more affirming of the dignity of work. The Tyranny of Merit points us toward a hopeful vision of a new politics of the common good.
A world-famous political philosopher, and the bestselling author of Justice, reveals the driving force behind the resurgence of populism: the tyranny of the meritocracy and the resentments it produces. Our politics are fraught with rancor and resentment. Decades of rising inequality and stalled mobility have fueled a populist revolt against elites. But while the pundits focus on wages and jobs, they are missing a big part of the story: social esteem, and the broader moral dimensions of our current crisis. In recent decades, mainstream politicians across the aisle - from Reagan to Obama - have offered a rhetoric of rising: everyone should be given an equal chance to get ahead. But the relentless focus on equal opportunity" ignores the morally corrosive attitudes that even a fair meritocracy generates. Among the winners, it generates hubris; among the losers, humiliation. Meritocratic hubris reflects the tendency of winners to inhale too deeply of their success, to forget the luck and good fortune that helped them on their way. It diminishes our capacity to see ourselves as sharing a common fate and leaves little room for the solidarity that can arise when we reflect on the contingency of our talents and fortunes. More than a protest against immigrants, outsourcing, and stagnant wages, the populist complaint is about the tyranny of merit. And the complaint is justified. In The Tyranny of Merit, a searing critique of contemporary public discourse, Michael J. Sandel, "the world's most relevant living philosopher" ( Newsweek ), diagnoses our political moment by seeking out its moral underpinnings. He highlights the hubris a meritocracy fosters among the winners and the indignities it inflicts on those left behind. And he offers an alternative way of thinking about success - more attentive to the role of luck in human affairs, more conducive to an ethic of humility, and more hospitable to a politics of the common good. "
"Standing on the foundations of America's promise of equal opportunity, our universities purport to "serve as engines of social mobility" and "practitioners of democracy." But as acclaimed scholar and pioneering civil rights advocate Lani Guinier argues, the merit systems that dictate the admissions practices of these institutions are functioning to select and privilege elite individuals rather than create learning communities geared to advance democratic societies. Having studied and taught at schools such as Harvard University, Yale Law School, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Guinier has spent years examining the experiences of ethnic minorities at the nation's top institutions of higher education, and here she lays bare the practices that impede the stated missions of these schools. Guinier argues for reformation, not only of the very premises of admissions practices but of the shape of higher education itself, and she offers many examples of new collaborative initiatives that prepare students for engaged citizenship in our increasingly multicultural society."--Publisher information.
By the one-time federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, an important overview of the way our justice system works, and why the rule of law is essential to our society. Using case histories, personal experiences and his own inviting writing and teaching style, Preet Bharara shows the thought process we need to best achieve truth and justice in our daily lives and within our society. Preet Bharara has spent much of his life examining our legal system, pushing to make it better, and prosecuting those looking to subvert it. Bharara believes in our system and knows it must be protected, but to do so, we must also acknowledge and allow for flaws in the system and in human nature. The book is divided into four sections: Inquiry, Accusation, Judgment and Punishment. He shows why each step of this process is crucial to the legal system, but he also shows how we all need to think about each stage of the process to achieve truth and justice in our daily lives. Bharara uses anecdotes and case histories from his legal career--the successes as well as the failures--to illustrate the realities of the legal system, and the consequences of taking action (and in some cases, not taking action, which can be just as essential when trying to achieve a just result). Much of what Bharara discusses is inspiring--it gives us hope that rational and objective fact-based thinking, combined with compassion, can truly lead us on a path toward truth and justice. Some of what he writes about will be controversial and cause much discussion. Ultimately, it is a thought-provoking, entertaining book about the need to find the humanity in our legal system--and in our society.
'This book flips your world upside down. Daniel Markovits argues that meritocracy isn't a virtuous, efficient system that rewards the best and brightest. Instead it rewards middle-class families who can afford huge investments in their children's education ... Frightening, eye-opening stuff' The Times, Books of the Year Even in the midst of runaway economic inequality and dangerous social division, it remains an axiom of modern life that meritocracy reigns supreme and promises to open opportunity to all. The idea that reward should follow ability and effort is so entrenched in our psyche that, even as society divides itself at almost every turn, all sides can be heard repeating meritocratic notions. Meritocracy cuts to the heart of who we think we are. But what if, both up and down the social ladder, meritocracy is a sham? Today, meritocracy has become exactly what it was conceived to resist: a mechanism for the concentration and dynastic transmission of wealth and privilege across generations. Upward mobility has become a fantasy, and the embattled middle classes are now more likely to sink into the working poor than to rise into the professional elite. At the same time, meritocracy now ensnares even those who manage to claw their way to the top, requiring rich adults to work with crushing intensity, exploiting their expensive educations in order to extract a return. All this is not the result of deviations or retreats from meritocracy but rather stems directly from meritocracy's successes. This is the radical argument that The Meritocracy Trap prosecutes with rare force, comprehensive research, and devastating persuasion. Daniel Markovits, a law professor trained in philosophy and economics, is better placed than most to puncture one of the dominant ideas of our age. Having spent his life at elite universities, he knows from the inside the corrosive system we are trapped within, as well as how we can take the first steps towards a world that might afford us both prosperity and dignity.
Should we pay children to read books or to get good grades? Should we allow corporations to pay for the right to pollute the atmosphere? Is it ethical to pay people to test risky new drugs or to donate their organs? What about hiring mercenaries to fight our wars? Auctioning admission to elite universities? Selling citizenship to immigrants willing to pay? In What Money Can't Buy, Michael J. Sandel takes on one of the biggest ethical questions of our time: Is there something wrong with a world in which everything is for sale? If so, how can we prevent market values from reaching into spheres of life where they don't belong? What are the moral limits of markets? In recent decades, market values have crowded out nonmarket norms in almost every aspect of life—medicine, education, government, law, art, sports, even family life and personal relations. Without quite realizing it, Sandel argues, we have drifted from having a market economy to being a market society. Is this where we want to be?In his New York Times bestseller Justice, Sandel showed himself to be a master at illuminating, with clarity and verve, the hard moral questions we confront in our everyday lives. Now, in What Money Can't Buy, he provokes an essential discussion that we, in our market-driven age, need to have: What is the proper role of markets in a democratic society—and how can we protect the moral and civic goods that markets don't honor and that money can't buy?
In the long-awaited follow-up to her Pulitzer Prize-winning Gulag, acclaimed journalist Anne Applebaum delivers a groundbreaking history of how Communism took over Eastern Europe after World War II and transformed in frightening fashion the individuals who came under its sway. At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union to its surprise and delight found itself in control of a huge swath of territory in Eastern Europe. Stalin and his secret police set out to convert a dozen radically different countries to Communism, a completely new political and moral system. In Iron Curtain, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anne Applebaum describes how the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe were created and what daily life was like once they were complete. She draws on newly opened East European archives, interviews, and personal accounts translated for the first time to portray in devastating detail the dilemmas faced by millions of individuals trying to adjust to a way of life that challenged their every belief and took away everything they had accumulated. Today the Soviet Bloc is a lost civilization, one whose cruelty, paranoia, bizarre morality, and strange aesthetics Applebaum captures in the electrifying pages of Iron Curtain.
Vivid character-driven narrative, fused with important new economic and political reporting and research, that busts the myths about middle class decline and points the way to its revival. For over a decade, Jim Tankersley has been on a journey to understand what the hell happened to the world's greatest middle-class success story -- the post-World-War-II boom that faded into decades of stagnation and frustration for American workers. In The Riches of This Land, Tankersley fuses the story of forgotten Americans-- struggling women and men who he met on his journey into the travails of the middle class-- with important new economic and political research, providing fresh understanding how to create a more widespread prosperity. He begins by unraveling the real mystery of the American economy since the 1970s - not where did the jobs go, but why haven't new and better ones been created to replace them. His analysis begins with the revelation that women and minorities played a far more crucial role in building the post-war middle class than today's politicians typically acknowledge, and policies that have done nothing to address the structural shifts of the American economy have enabled a privileged few to capture nearly all the benefits of America's growing prosperity. Meanwhile, the "angry white men of Ohio" have been sold by Trump and his ilk a theory of the economy that is dangerously backward, one that pits them against immigrants, minorities, and women who should be their allies. At the culmination of his journey, Tankersley lays out specific policy prescriptions and social undertakings that can begin moving the needle in the effort to make new and better jobs appear. By fostering an economy that opens new pathways for all workers to reach their full potential -- men and women, immigrant or native-born, regardless of race -- America can once again restore the upward flow of talent that can power growth and prosperity.
Breakthroughs in genetics present us with a promise and a predicament. The promise is that we will soon be able to treat and prevent a host of debilitating diseases. The predicament is that our newfound genetic knowledge may enable us to manipulate our nature—to enhance our genetic traits and those of our children. Although most people find at least some forms of genetic engineering disquieting, it is not easy to articulate why. What is wrong with re-engineering our nature? The Case against Perfection explores these and other moral quandaries connected with the quest to perfect ourselves and our children. Michael Sandel argues that the pursuit of perfection is flawed for reasons that go beyond safety and fairness. The drive to enhance human nature through genetic technologies is objectionable because it represents a bid for mastery and dominion that fails to appreciate the gifted character of human powers and achievements. Carrying us beyond familiar terms of political discourse, this book contends that the genetic revolution will change the way philosophers discuss ethics and will force spiritual questions back onto the political agenda. In order to grapple with the ethics of enhancement, we need to confront questions largely lost from view in the modern world. Since these questions verge on theology, modern philosophers and political theorists tend to shrink from them. But our new powers of biotechnology make these questions unavoidable. Addressing them is the task of this book, by one of America’s preeminent moral and political thinkers.
In this book, Michael Sandel takes up some of the hotly contested moral and political issues of our time, including affirmative action, assisted suicide, abortion, gay rights, stem cell research, the meaning of toleration and civility, the gap between rich and poor, the role of markets, and the place of religion in public life. He argues that the most prominent ideals in our political life--individual rights and freedom of choice--do not by themselves provide an adequate ethic for a democratic society. Sandel calls for a politics that gives greater emphasis to citizenship, community, and civic virtue, and that grapples more directly with questions of the good life. Liberals often worry that inviting moral and religious argument into the public sphere runs the risk of intolerance and coercion. These essays respond to that concern by showing that substantive moral discourse is not at odds with progressive public purposes, and that a pluralist society need not shrink from engaging the moral and religious convictions that its citizens bring to public life.