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Lecture by Professor Michael Sandel Funded by The Philomathia Foundation

11 MAR 2016

Prof. Michael Sandel speaks at CUHK.
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Prof. Michael Sandel speaks at CUHK.
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Prof. Michael Sandel speaks at CUHK.
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(From right) Prof. Joseph Sung, Vice-Chancellor and President of CUHK; Prof. Michael Sandel; Mr. Leslie Chung, Board Member, The Philomathia Foundation; and Prof. Simon Haines, Chairman, Department of English, CUHK.
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Prof. Michael Sandel receives an ovation from a capacity audience of around 1,500 people.
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Prof. Michael Sandel, Harvard's most famous professor, spoke at the Research Centre for Human Values (the Centre) at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) tonight. He received an ovation from a capacity audience of around 1,500 people.

The event saw the best-selling political philosopher deliver a rousing lecture entitled 'What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets', based on his New York Times bestselling book of the same name.

The event provoked unprecedented demand for tickets from students, academics and the public right across Hong Kong. The tickets were free and sold out in just a few hours, with additional lecture theatres having to be opened up across campus to host those who wanted to see the event live-streamed from the main auditorium.

Prof. Simon Haines, Director of the Centre and Chairman of the Department of English at CUHK says: "Tonight's event was electric. Prof. Sandel delivered a powerful, moving lecture that really brought home to everyone the huge importance of proper values reflection within the Hong Kong community and across the world. This is exactly what the Research Centre for Human Values, based at CUHK and funded by The Philomathia Foundation, was established to do. 

"We have been greatly looking forward to this event and it fulfilled all our expectations. Having thousands of people come to our campus on a Friday evening shows that the demand for values-based discussion in Hong Kong is at an all-time high. We are very much looking forward to bringing other high-profile speakers to the city as part of our programme at the Centre."

Tonight's event focused on Prof. Sandel's book What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, which takes up one of the biggest ethical questions of our time: isn't there something wrong with a world in which everything is for sale? If so, how can we prevent market values from reaching into spheres of life where they don't belong: from becoming our ­only values? What are the moral limits of markets? 

Prof. Sandel challenged the audience with ethical dilemmas grounded in economics. For example: should we pay children to read books or to get good grades? Should we put a price on human life to decide how much pollution to allow? Is it ethical to pay people to test risky new drugs or to donate their organs?

One of Foreign Policy's Top 100 Global Thinkers, Prof. Sandel has been described as "the most relevant living philosopher," "a rock-star moralist" (Newsweek), and “the most famous teacher of philosophy in the world” (New Republic). 

Prof. Sandel's legendary course 'Justice' has enrolled over 15,000 students and was the first Harvard course to be made freely available online and on public television. It has been viewed by millions of people around the world, including in China, where China Newsweek named him in 2011 the "most influential foreign figure of the year." 

His earlier book, Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?, has sold over 2 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 27 different languages The book relates the big questions of political philosophy to the most vexing issues of our time. 

About Michael Sandel 

Michael Sandel teaches political philosophy at Harvard University where he is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government. His latest book, What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, challenges us to rethink the role that money and markets should play in our lives. Reviewers have called it a "brilliant, indispensable book on the relationship between morality and economics," and "an eloquent argument for morality in public life." 

Described by the Guardian as "the man who is currently the most effective communicator of ideas in English," Sandel's books and online lectures have brought him "the kind of popularity usually reserved for Hollywood movie stars and NBA players." (China Daily) His recent lecture tours have taken him across five continents, packing such venues as St. Paul’s Cathedral (London), the Sydney Opera House (Australia), and an outdoor amphitheater in Seoul, Korea, where 14,000 people came to hear him speak. 

About The Research Centre for Human Values, CUHK 

Founded in 2009 with a generous donation from the Philomathia Foundation, the mission of the Research Centre for Human Values at The Chinese University of Hong Kong is to promote discussion, research and reflection on values and value conflicts as they present themselves across academic disciplines, in the wider Hong Kong community, and internationally.

Source: Communications and Public Relations Office, The Chinese University of Hong Kong