Public Philosophy: Essays on Morality in Politics


Sandel Michael J. 2005. Public Philosophy: Essays on Morality in Politics, Pp. 304. Harvard University Press.
Public Philosophy: Essays on Morality in Politics


“Michael Sandel…believes that liberal appeals to individual rights and to the broad values of fairness and equality make a poor case for the progressive case, both as a matter of strategy and as a matter of principle. The country and the Democratic party would be better off, he thinks, if progressives made more of an effort to inspire the majority to adopt their vision of the common good and make it the democratic ground for public policy and law… Anyone concerned over the political success of conservatism in recent years must be interested in this critical analysis.”Thomas Nagel, The New York Review of Books

 “Two messages for progressives sear like bullets through Sandel’s collection of essays.  Firstly,…inevitable disagreement about the nature of the good society calls for progressives to engage with controversial moral questions—not to try to avoid them…. Secondly, by seeking to justify egalitarianism in individualistic, rights-based terms, Rawlsian liberals neglect cultivating the citizenship, solidarity and community on which liberty and equality depend…. In recapturing a moral voice for the liberal-left, it is Sandel who seems to offer a more persuasive way forward.” – Graeme Cook, Public Policy Research

 “Michael Sandel is one of the most prominent American political philosophers of the post-Rawlsian era…. No doubt liberals will feel discomforted by Sandel’s critiques of individualism, but the critiques have force and must be engaged; they cannot be dismissed as anti-liberal conservatism…. The text can be seen as a call to arms, most directly addressed to the American centre left, to try to win back the arena of values from the right.” – Philip A. Quadrio, Journal of Religious History

“Michael Sandel’s Public Philosophy: Essays on Morality in Politics provides a glimpse into the most influential and best-known debates in Anglo-American political philosophy of the last generation…. This text also provides a wide-ranging introduction to Sandel’s work in political theory and its link to the domain of everyday politics.” – Aaron Cooley, International Journal of Philosophical Studies

“Harvard political theorist Michael Sandel is among the most respected and nuanced of contemporary commentators on American liberalism…. Despite their disparate subjects, the essays cohere amazingly well, visiting from different angles the question of whether including moral and religious concepts in American political discourse is at odds with liberal goods and ideals…. Sandel’s academic essays engage difficult concepts lucidly and even handedly, and his consistently provocative popular commentaries not only discuss the importance of substantive public philosophy, they exemplify it, raising the level of our political and moral discourse in a supremely accessible manner.” – Timothy M. Renick, Religious Studies Review

“[Sandel] explains that our living in a pluralist society with differing moral ideals does not inhibit our discussion of issues like abortion and stem-cell research but instead helps us resolve them by looking at what it means to live ‘a good life.’ This thought-provoking book will be valuable to the general reader as well as scholars.”Scott Duimstra, Library Journal

 “Public Philosophy stands an integral text in the quest for recovering, and rediscovering, an ethically and morally responsible citizenry and political system.” – Jay M. Hudkins, Rhetoric & Public Affairs

“This new volume, which collects articles previously published between 1983 and 2004, provides a valuable overview of what Sandel calls his ‘public philosophy’… His arguments are broad-ranging, lucid, and sincere in their concern for our current public maladies. As such, they demand attention and engagement…. [Sandel] seeks to recover a politics rooted in the common good and the virtues necessary for broader and deeper civic engagement.”William Lund, Social Theory and Practice

“No matter what your politics are, you will find Michael Sandel’s Public Philosophy exciting, invigorating, discerning and encouraging. Conservatives will discover a liberalism they didn’t know existed: profoundly concerned with responsibility, community and the importance of individual virtue. Liberals and Democrats who know their side needs an engaging public philosophy will find its bricks and mortar, its contours and basic principles, right here in these pages. To a political debate that is too often dispiriting and sterile, Sandel has offered a brilliant and badly needed antidote.”E.J. Dionne, Jr., syndicated columnist, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, professor at Georgetown University

 “Michael Sandel can always be counted on to write with elegance and intelligence about important things. Whether you agree or not, you cannot ignore his arguments. We need all the sane voices we can get in the public square and Sandel’s is one of the sanest.”Jean Bethke Elshtain, The University of Chicago Divinity School

“Michael Sandel is one of the world’s best known and most influential political theorists. He is unusual for the range of practical ethical issues that he has addressed: life, death, sports, religion, commerce, and more. These essays are lucid, pointed, often highly subtle and revealing. Sandel has something important and worthwhile to say about every topic he addresses.”Stephen Macedo, Princeton University

Last updated on 08/16/2016