Michael J. Sandel

in conversation with Pete Buttigieg

Recorded Monday, October 12th, 2020

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Michael J. Sandel in conversation with Pete Buttigieg

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Michael J. Sandel‘s new book The Tyranny of Merit offers an alternative way of thinking about success — a view 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 — and points us toward a hopeful vision of a new politics of the common good.

Michael teaches political philosophy at Harvard University. His writings ― on justice, ethics, democracy, and markets ― have been translated into 27 languages. His course “Justice” is the first Harvard course to be made freely available online and on television. It has been viewed by tens of millions of people around the world, including in China, where Sandel was named the “most influential foreign figure of the year.”

His books relate enduring themes of political philosophy to the most vexing moral and civic questions of our time. They include What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets; Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?;  The Case against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering; Public Philosophy: Essays on Morality in Politics;  Democracy’s Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy; and Liberalism and the Limits of Justice.

Pete Buttigieg served two terms as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and was a Democratic candidate for president of the United States in 2020. A graduate of Harvard University and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, He served for seven years as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, taking a leave of absence from the mayor’s office for a deployment to Afghanistan in 2014. In April 2019 he announced his candidacy for president and in February 2020 won the Iowa Caucuses, becoming the first openly gay person to ever win a presidential primary or caucus.

“The toxic mix of hubris and resentment that propelled Trump to power is not a likely source of the solidarity we need now.

Any hope of renewing our moral and civic life depends on understanding how, over the past four decades, our social bonds and respect for one another came unraveled.”

– Michael J. Sandel

Get ready to join Michael in conversation, Monday, October 12th.

In the meantime, we invite you to take a moment now to help shape this upcoming conversation.

Check out the list of questions submitted by other registered attendees, and then vote to support any that match your interests.

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  • 11

    votes

    How can trust be created between highly educated and less educated Americans if they feel a sense of resentment/pretentiousness?

  • 5

    votes

    What WILL WE DO if Trump won’t leave?

  • 5

    votes

    Who are your literary heroes?

  • 4

    votes

    What’s the one thing I can I do right now to make things better?

  • 4

    votes

    There’s been an ongoing argument in the last two years or so that our institutions are the things that keep democracy going. Do you think this is true and what can we do to restore our faith in our American institutions and offices of government?

  • 4

    votes

    How has the pandemic affected your life personally as well as your political agenda?

  • 3

    votes

    I enjoy books about healing the divide, but given that many of trump’s followers are dismissive, at best, of “philosophers” and “intellectuals” like yourself (and Pete), how can books like yours contribute to the conversation? Is this written specifically aimed at the more progressive “side” because they are the only ones who might respond to such input?

  • 3

    votes

    Could you talk about the “evolution” of your thinking on social issues? How does your experience change the way you think of things?

  • 3

    votes

    What philosophy do you see prevailing if we become climate refugees competing for bio-safety faster than current politics can adapt?

  • 3

    votes

    OK, but really: capitalism is theft, right? Especially when you add automation?

  • 2

    votes

    Thank you both for providing a path through the current moment. How long do you think it will take before America–and its citizens–have regained the footing we once had?

  • 2

    votes

    What was the last thing you read or saw that moved you?

  • 2

    votes

    What role do you see faith and/or religion playing in our healing, and how do you believe religion became such a toxic force in American politics in recent decades? What role can individual people of faith play?

  • 2

    votes

    Mayor Pete: How do you see your political future?
    If invited to serve in a Biden Cabinet, as I hope you would be, would you
    accept?

  • 2

    votes

    You will probably discuss alternatives to resume or test-based versions of merit. Could you comment on a scenario of “low stakes testing” in which candidates can accumulate ‘merit’ for accomplishments – both traditional and social – and not be penalized for passing a particular gate (age, graduation) as they retry to achieve access to scarce beneficial work.

  • 1

    votes

    Who are the intended audiences for your books? Who did you write trust for?

  • 1

    votes

    What inspired both of your new books, and what was the process like writting them?? When did you know you had something real that you were going to publish?

  • 1

    votes

    Has writing always come naturally to you?

  • 1

    votes

    How do we make the opportunity to attain knowledge and learning more equitable in our country?

  • 1

    votes

    Will you write another book?

  • 1

    votes

    How cautious were you to include/not include too much of your personal life in your book?

  • 1

    votes

    How do you decide which stories to tell? What draws you to a story?

  • 1

    votes

    How might public K-12 ed provide a philosophical counterbalance to its current meritocratic message, one that might help reduce the substance abuse and disaffection that derive from no alternate sense of agency or self-worth in a system that’s “rigged?”

  • 1

    votes

    What would you ask Amy Coney Barrett if you were on the Confirmation Committee?

  • 1

    votes

    What would be your dream job in a Biden cabinet?

  • 1

    votes

    What do you feel is the biggest roadblock to people accepting the premise in your book?

  • 1

    votes

    For Michael Sandel. You say that those at the top believe they deserve their success. Do you think it is surprising this notion exists in a nation founded by Calvinist Protestants who believed that the “elect” would experience worldly success? What role has the so called “Protestant ethic” played in bringing us to our current situation?

  • 1

    votes

    What was the research process like for each of your books?

  • 0

    votes

    Please let Dr. Sandel speak and about his new book. The Buttigieg campaign is over and many ppl already know of the mayor’s previous challenges.

  • 0

    votes

    Do you meditate?

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