Most famous living philosopher visits St Andrews

Friday 18 April 2014

The man described as “the world’s most relevant living philosopher” (by Michael Fitzgerald in Newsweek), Harvard University Professor Michael Sandel, will deliver the University of St Andrews’ Inaugural Andrew Carnegie Lecture on Monday April 28, 2014.

The lecture, entitled ‘What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets’, will be delivered in the Buchanan Lecture Theatre, Union Street, St Andrews. Doors open at 1700 hours for the lecture which starts at 1730 hours and the event is open to all.

Sandel will use his address to engage the audience in a lively discussion of one of the biggest ethical questions of our time: how to best preserve the common good and build strong communities that benefit everyone?

In recent decades, market values and market thinking have reached into almost every aspect of life – personal relations, medicine, education, journalism, sports, politics, law, and civic life. What should be the role of money and markets in a good society? Are there some things money should not be able to buy? Do we want a society in which everything is up for sale? If not, how can we keep market values and marketing thinking in their proper place?

The lecture is, of course, free. However attendees are advised seats will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis. Demand is expected to be high for the opportunity to hear the man the Guardian describe as “currently the most effective communicator of ideas in English.”

As Andrew Anthony, writing in The Observer, noted:

“The attention Sandel enjoys is more akin to a stadium-filling self-help guru than a philosopher. But rather than instructing his audiences to maximize earning power or balance their chakras, he challenges them to address fundamental questions about how society is organized.”

Following his lecture Professor Sandel will be available to sign copies of his book.

Anyone interested can also join in the discussion live via Twitter, using the hashtag #StASandel.

The event is part of The Andrew Carnegie Lecture Series which will be delivered annually over the next ten years, creating a platform for international speakers to engage with a Scottish audience on issues that mattered to Carnegie. The lecture series includes separate events taking place at the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

Funding for the lecture series was provided as part of the centennial celebrations of Carnegie Corporation of New York, created in 1911 – one of the many institutions and organisations established by the Scottish-born philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

A former Rector of the University of St Andrews; Carnegie donated much of the wealth he generated to help improve society, with a particular focus on education. This also led to the foundation of the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland in 1901.

Speaking ahead of the Inaugural Andrew Carnegie Lecture Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Louise Richardson said:

“I am delighted to welcome my former colleague Michael Sandel to St Andrews. A formidable intellect and extraordinary teacher he will challenge us to question our deepest values. Andrew Carnegie spent the latter part of his life trying to do good with the fortune he had made in business. I can think of nobody better suited to give the inaugural Andrew Carnegie lecture than Michael Sandel and no subject more appropriate that the moral limits of markets.


Professor Michael Sandel is The Anne T and Robert M Bass Professor of Government at Harvard, and has taught political philosophy since 1980.

His work has addressed issues such as democracy, public philosophy and the erosion of community and moral values.

He is best known for the Harvard course ‘Justice’, which is available to view online, and for his critique of John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice in his first book, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (1982).

View details of Sandel’s ‘Justice’ course at:

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