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Wednesday 23rd May 2012, 6.30pm at St Paul's Cathedral
'What money can't buy - the moral limits of markets.'
At this free public debate hosted by St Paul's Cathedral in collaboration with the LSE, JustShare and Penguin UK, noted public philosopher and Harvard Professor Michael J. Sandel explored the questions raised by his latest book: Is there something wrong with a world in which everything is for sale? Do market values dominate too many spheres of life? What are the moral limits of markets? Bishop Peter Selby, Julian Le Grand and Stephanie Flanders joined Professor Sandel in discussion with Ann Pettifor in the Chair.
The response to this event was outstanding with over 1,800 people filling the Cathedral to capacity; there is clearly a real appetite for the dialogue and debate which the St Paul's Institute and JustShare seek to promote on ethics and economics. The audience was diverse but united by a common visible engagement with the words of all the panellists; there was a great atmosphere and lively questions from the audience throughout, including spontaneous applause in response to some of the speakers' comments.
It is a question more important than ever as we continue to face global and local economic instability and social protest. Paradoxically, the hegemony of free markets seems to both intensify calls to imagine a different system and threaten to overpower those calls. Michael Sandel's questions, reminding us of the complex motiviations and consequences of so many of our social and financial relationships, struck a chord with the packed-out audience of St Paul's. Have we, he asked, become a market society instead of simply having a market economy? Stephanie Flanders asked in response: What other ways are there to allocate resources, and are these any better? Is the real problem unequality? Do markets fill the moral vacuum left by the collapse of public discourse, asked Professor Sandel? On the contrary, countered Bishop Peter Selby; markets themselves create that moral vacuum. And so the debate continued...
JustShare is very grateful to the LSE and particularly to the St Paul's Institute for the opportunity to share in such a stimulating debate.