Foto van Michael Sandel zittend op een stoel
Foto van Michael Sandel zittend op een stoel

Michael Sandel visits Nijmegen for honorary doctorate Radboud University

Michael Sandel, a political philosopher at Harvard University, will be awarded an honorary doctorate from Radboud University during its 100th anniversary celebration. His writings and lectures on issues including the ethics of technology, the meaning of success, and the role of morality and civic virtues in political life have reached an audience of millions. Sandel will receive the honorary doctorate on 9 May and hold a lecture afterwards.

Michael Sandel is one of the most famous philosophers of our time. He is a vehement defender of morality and civic virtues in political life and his academic writings on justice, democracy, bioethics and the moral limits of markets have been translated into more than 30 languages. He has also reached millions of viewers and listeners through online and public lectures, his BBC Radio 4 series and his television appearances, earning him the title of the ‘rock star philosopher’.

Sandel uses philosophy to promote public debate about current issues, such as: Should the rich bear the cost of climate change? Are there limits to free speech? What has the pandemic taught us about the contribution of unskilled, low-paid work to the common good?

According to Sandel, increased inequality and polarisation are reflective of the way we think about success and failure. This 'success ethic' makes people at the top believe they have earned their place, while those at the bottom of the social ladder are held responsible for their own failures. Sandel calls for changing the way we think about success.

Lecture on 9 May

Immediately after receiving his honorary doctorate at the Vereeniging in Nijmegen, Sandel will hold a lecture at Radboud Reflects. Visitors can choose to also attend the academic ceremony before the lecture. During the lecture Sandel will speak about who should rule in times of populist protests against authority and the elite. Among other issues, he will address whether classically trained academics are more suited to govern than citizens with a different academic background. After the lecture, Sandel will engage in a discussion with Radboud researchers Carolien van Ham, Vivienne Matthies-Boon and Christoph Lüthy.

Seven honorary doctorates

To mark the university’s centenary anniversary in 2023, each of the seven faculties will have the opportunity to issue its own honorary doctorate. The Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies will kick things off on 9 May by awarding an honorary doctorate to Michael Sandel. The six other honorary doctorates will be awarded during the annual Dies Natalis celebration on 17 October 2023.

Contact information

For more information, contact Marie-Jose Verbeek on (06) 3113 2558 or at marie-jose.verbeek [at] (marie-jose[dot]verbeek[at]ru[dot]nl). You can register via Radboud Reflects.