We would like to invite you to this fireside chat with Elizabeth Kiss (Virginia & Balliol 1983) and Michael Sandel (Massachusetts & Balliol 1975) to talk about Michael's new book; 'The Tyranny of Merit: What's Become of the Common Good?'
We live, more than we have for generations, in an age of winners and losers, where the odds are stacked in favour of the already fortunate. Especially now, during a pandemic that has exposed the true value of essential work and self-esteem, stalled social mobility and entrenched inequality give the lie to the promise that "you can make it if you try". Worse, we have increasingly come to view the money people make as a sign of their worth. The consequence is a brew of anger and frustration that has fuelled populist protest and extreme polarisation – economic, cultural and political - and has led to deep distrust of both government and our fellow citizens, leaving us morally unprepared to face the profound challenges of our age.
Renowned philosopher Michael J. Sandel argues that to overcome the partisan politics of our time, we must rethink the attitudes towards success and failure that have accompanied globalisation and rising inequality. Sandel highlights the hubris meritocracy generates among the winners and the harsh judgement it imposes on those left behind.
Published at a hinge point in social and political history, 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, more affirming of the dignity of work and more hospitable to a politics of the common good. Inspiringly, his book also helps us think about one of the great questions: how we value other human beings.