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  • Published: 10 September 2020
  • ISBN: 9780141991184
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 288

The Tyranny of Merit

What's Become of the Common Good?




One of the world's leading philosophers on how we can restore social solidarity and overcome our rancorous politics

These are dangerous times for democracy. We live in an age of winners and losers, where the odds are stacked in favour of the already fortunate. Stalled social mobility and entrenched inequality give the lie to the promise that "you can make it if you try". And the consequence is a brew of anger and frustration that has fuelled populist protest, with the triumph of Brexit and election of Donald Trump.

Michael J. Sandel argues that to overcome the polarized politics of our time, we must rethink the attitudes toward success and failure that have accompanied globalisation and rising inequality. Sandel highlights the hubris a meritocracy generates among the winners and the harsh judgement it imposes on those left behind. 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.

  • Published: 10 September 2020
  • ISBN: 9780141991184
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 288

About the author

Michael J. Sandel

Michael Sandel is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at the University of Harvard. Sandel's legendary 'Justice' course is one of the most popular and influential at Harvard with up to a thousand students enrolling every year.  In 2011, BBC4 will air a season on Justice, featuring eight of Sandel's Harvard lectures and his new documentary film, 'Justice: A Citizen's Guide to the 21st Century.' Michael Sandel has lectured widely in Europe, China, Japan, India, Australia and North America. He has been a visiting professor at the Sorbonne, Paris, and delivered the Tanner Lectures at Oxford. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Sandel is the author of many books and has previously written for the Atlantic Monthly, the New Republic and the New York Times. In 2009, he delivered the Reith Lectures for the BBC.

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Praise for The Tyranny of Merit

Credentialism is the last acceptable prejudice... blends fact, analysis and opinion in eminently readable non-fiction

Rana Foroohar, Financial Times

The Tyranny of Merit is original, lively and no mere critique: unlike many others who have written on the "sorting" of society into winners and losers, Sandel produces a persuasive argument about the kind of community we should seek ... The Tyranny of Merit is an important work, and makes a profound point that our leaders would do well to understand.

Nick Timothy, Daily Telegraph

He is good at dismantling the cheap language of recent politics... compelling, too, in diagnosing the growing use of discriminatory language

Julian Glover, Evening Standard

Engaging and timely... an insightful critique of where our societies went wrong... that will help us to heal our divided societies

Matthew Goodwin, Sunday Times

Sandel is the most important and influential living philosopher.

Paul Collier, Times Literary Supplement

well-argued, clear, and nicely timed to appeal to the growing disillusionment with meritocracy.

Simon Kuper, New Statesman

"rich in moral exhortation - the kind that does your soul good"

Polly Toynbee

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