Whose work are you watching?

Michael J. Sandel is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University, where he has taught political philosophy since 1980. He is the author of Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (Cambridge University Press), Democracy's Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy (Harvard University Press, 1996), Public Philosophy: Essays on Morality in Politics (Harvard University Press, 2005), and The Case against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering (Harvard University Press, 2007). His writings have also appeared in such publications as The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, and The New York Times. The recipient of three honorary degrees, he has received fellowships from the Carnegie Corporation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Ford Foundation. From 2002 to 2005, he served on President Bush's Council on Bioethics, a national council appointed by the President to examine the ethical implications of new biomedical technologies. A summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brandeis University (1975), Sandel received his doctorate from Oxford University (D.Phil.,1981), where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He lives with his wife and two sons in Brookline, Massachusetts.
  • Transcript


Question: Whose work are you watching?

Michael Sandel: I suppose the political philosopher – the contemporary political philosopher – whose work I most admire is someone who was a teacher of mine, and who I admire most, and that’s Charles Taylor, who held a professorship in political theory at Oxford during the days that I was there as a graduate student. And he was also very actively involved in Canadian politics … time. And he … he’s nominally in retirement, but he’s still active in producing important work. But from Charles Taylor, I learned about Aristotle, and about Hagel, and about the tension between the enlightenment project – which gives rise to universal notions from modern liberalism – and other traditions … the republican tradition, the romantic tradition, and also religious traditions that are intentioned with modern understandings of the self. So I would say Charles Kaylor is really, among contemporary philosophers, my hero.

Recorded on: 6/12/07