Making a Killing: The Economics of Life and Death

The Annual Walter F. Murphy Lecture in American Constitutionalism

March 4, 2013
Sandel event poster

Michael J. SandelAnne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government, Harvard University
Author of What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012) and Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009)

The financial crisis prompted criticism of "casino capitalism" on Wall Street. Is there a difference between gambling and investing? If so, should the law treat them differently? What about investments that involve betting on when people will die? Drawing on his new book, What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012), Michael Sandel will address these and other vexing questions at the intersection of ethics, economics, and law.

This very special annual lecture celebrates the work of the late Walter F. Murphy, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence Emeritus, Princeton University, and his dedication to excellence in the study of American and comparative constitutional law theory.  A decade after joining the Princeton faculty, Professor Murphy was named the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, succeeding Woodrow Wilson, Edward S. Corwin, and Alpheus T. Mason in one of the Nation's most prestigious Chairs. 

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.  At Harvard, Sandel’s courses include "Ethics, Biotechnology, and the Future of Human Nature," "Ethics, Economics, and Law," and "Globalization and Its Critics." His undergraduate course, "Justice," has enrolled over 15,000 students, and is the first Harvard course to be made freely available online ( and on public television.  A recipient of the Harvard-Radcliffe Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize, Sandel was recognized by the American Political Science Association in 2008 for a career of excellence in teaching.  He has been a visiting professor at the Sorbonne (Paris), delivered the Tanner Lectures on Human Values at Oxford University, and in 2009 delivered the BBC Reith Lectures.  From 2002 to 2005, he served on the President's Council on Bioethics.  He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2010, China Newsweek named him the "most influential foreign figure of the year" in China. His most recent book is titled What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012).  He is also author of Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (Cambridge University Press, 1982, 2nd edition, 1998), Democracy's Discontent (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 work has been translated into nineteen foreign languages.  A graduate of Brandeis University, Professor Sandel received his doctorate from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.


Making a Killing: The Economics of Life and Death


McCosh Hall 50

Cosponsored by:

  • The Program in Law and Public Affairs
  • The University Center for Human Values

Photo Album:

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