2017 George W. Gay Lecture

Markets, Morals, and Medicine
Michael J. Sandel
Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University

When: October, 26, 2017, 4:30-6:00pm
Where: Carl W. Walter Amphitheater (please register below)

View photos of the event.

Please check back for information about the 2018 Gay Lecture.


Michael Sandel teaches political philosophy at Harvard University. His writings—on justice, ethics, democracy, and markets--have been translated into 27 languages. His course “Justice” is the first Harvard course to be made freely available online and on television.  It has been viewed by tens of millions of people around the world, including in China, where Sandel was named the “most influential foreign figure of the year.” (China Newsweek)

Sandel’s books relate enduring themes of political philosophy to the most vexing moral and civic questions of our time.  They include What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets;  Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?;  The Case against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering;  Public Philosophy: Essays on Morality in Politics;  Democracy’s Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy; and Liberalism and the Limits of Justice. 

Sandel has been a visiting professor at the Sorbonne, and delivered the Tanner Lectures on Human Values at Oxford, the BBC’s Reith Lectures, and the Kellogg Lecture on Jurisprudence at the U.S. Library of Congress.  In 2016, East China Normal University (Shanghai) convened an international conference to explore points of contact between Sandel’s work and the Confucian tradition.

Sandel has sought to extend the reach of philosophy beyond the academy. His BBC Radio 4 series “The Public Philosopher” explores the philosophical ideas lying behind the headlines with audiences around the world; one program, a discussion of violence against women, was recorded in India, following a notorious rape incident in New Delhi. Another took place in Britain’s Palace of Westminster, where Sandel led a debate about democracy with members of Parliament and the public.  In Brazil, he recently led a debate on corruption and the ethics of everyday life that reached an audience of 19 million on Globo TV.  In Japan, his series on ethics for NHK, Japan’s national television network, convened students from China, Japan, and South Korea to discuss whether moral responsibility for historic wrongs extends across generations.

Sandel has been a pioneer in the use of new technology to promote global public discourse.  In a new BBC series, “The Global Philosopher,” Sandel leads video-linked discussions with participants from over 30 countries on the ethical aspects of issues such as immigration and climate change. 

In the U.S., Sandel has served on the President's Council on Bioethics and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A graduate of Brandeis University, he received his doctorate from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

Sandel’s global lectures have taken him across five continents and packed venues such as St. Paul’s Cathedral (London), the Sydney Opera House (Australia), the Public Theater in New York’s Central Park, and an outdoor stadium in Seoul (S. Korea), where 14,000 people came to hear him speak. 


About the Gay Lecture

The George W. Gay Lecture is the oldest endowed lectureship at Harvard Medical School, and quite possibly the oldest medical ethics lectureship in the United States. The lectureship was established in 1917 by a $1,000 gift from Dr. George Washington Gay, an 1868 graduate of HMS. Gay gave Harvard the fund to provide an annual income to support lectures “to the advanced, or graduating classes in the Medical School upon Medical Ethics, and upon wise and proper methods of conducting the business of physicians, as relates to fees, collections, investments, etc.” The Gay Lectureship perpetuates his deep concern for the welfare of his patients and his appreciation of the constantly arising social and economic forces that impinge on medical care.

Since its inception, many of the nation's most influential physicians, scientists, researchers and social observers, have given the annual lecture. Past lecturers include Erich Fromm, Felix Frankfurter, Margaret Mead, Elizabeth Kübler Ross, E.O. Wilson, and Joshua Lederberg have given the Gay Lecture. Elie Wiesel, Marian Wright Edelman, Paul Krugman, Nicholas Kristof, and Donald Berwick.

Past George W. Gay Lecturers

Dr. John Bapst Blake, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harvard University
Dr. George W. Gay
Dr. Walter P. Bowers, Managing Editor, Boston Medical and Surgical Journal
Dr. George G. Sears, Clinical Prof. of Medicine, Emeritus, Harvard University
Dr. Francis Weld Peabody, Professor of Medicine, Harvard University
Dr. Samuel B. Woodward, past President, Massachusetts Medical Society
Dr. John M. Birnie, Secretary, New England Medical Society
Dr. Roger I. Lee, Professor of Hygiene, Harvard University
Dr. Robert B. Osgood, Professor Orthopedic Surgery, Harvard University
Dr. Elliott P. Joslin, Clinical Professor of Medicine, Harvard University
Dr. Arthur H. Ruggles, Superintendent, Butler Hospital, Providence, RI
Dr. John Homans, Clinical Professor of Surgery, Harvard University
Dr. Joseph H. Pratt, Professor of Clinical Medicine, Tufts College
Dr. James B. Herrick, Professor of Medicine, Emeritus, Rush Medical College
Dr. Lawrence K. Lunt, Psychiatrist (Boston, Massachusetts)
Dr. O.H. Perry Pepper, Professor of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Mr. Henry L. Shattuck, Treasurer, Harvard University
Dr. Reginald Fitz, Lecturer on The History of Medicine, Harvard University
Dr. Elton Mayo, Professor of Industrial Research, Harvard University
Dr. Eliot Wadsworth, President, Boston Chamber of Commerce
Dr. Robert L. DeNormandie, Comm. on Ethics & Discipline, Mass. Med. Soc.
Dr. Donald Guthrie, Assoc. Prof. of Surgery, Univ. of Penn. School of Med.
Mr. Phillips Ketchum, Partner, Herrick, Smith, Donald, Farley & Ketchum
Dr. Charles R. Austrian, Assoc. Professor of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Univ.
Dr. David Cheever, Associate Professor of Surgery, Emeritus, Harvard Univ.
Dr. T. Grier Miller, Professor of Clinical Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Mr. Ben Amers Williams, Author
Dr. Hugh J. Morgan, Professor of Medicine, Vanderbilt University
The Rev. George A. Buttrick, Professor of Christian Morals, Harvard Univ.
The Rev. Douglas Horton, Professor of Theology, Harvard University
Dr. Erich Fromm, Professor of Psychoanalysis, National University of Mexico
The Honorable Felix Frankfurter, Associate Justice, US Supreme Court
Dr. James Howard Means, Professor of Medicine, Emeritus, Harvard University
Dr. Margaret Mead, Adjunct Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University
Dr. Ralph Johnson Bunche, Under Secretary for Special Political Affairs, U.N.
Mr. Erik Erikson, Prof. of Human Development, Lecturer Psych., Harvard Univ.
Dr. Herman Ludwig Blumgart, Prof. of Medicine, Emeritus, Harvard University
Dr. Paul Freund, Carl M. Loeb University Professor, Harvard University
Dr. I Bernard Cohen, Professor of The History of Science, Harvard University
Dr. Elizabeth Kübler Ross, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Univ. of Chicago
Dr. Robert J. Lifton, Foundations Fund of Research, Yale University
Dr. Franz J. Ingelfinger, Editor, New England Journal of Medicine
Dr. Kenneth J. Ryan, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Harvard Univ.
Dr. Carleton B. Chapman, President, The Commonwealth Fund
Dr. Edward O. Wilson, Professor of Science, Harvard University
Arnold S. Relman, M.D., Prof. of Medicine, HMS; Editor, NEJM
The Rev. Robert F. Drinan, SJ, U.S. Congress; Georgetown Univ. Law Ctr.
Joshua Lederberg, Ph.D., President, The Rockefeller University
Uwe E. Reinhardt, Ph.D., Prof. Economics and Public Affairs, Princeton Univ.
Dr. Julian Tudor Hart, Glyncorrwg Health Center, West Galmorgan, Wales
Baroness Mary Warnock, Mistress, Girton College, Cambridge, England
Dennis Thompson, Ph.D., Dir. Pgm. in Ethics and Professions, Harvard Univ.
Albert Jonsen, Ph.D., Chair, Medical History and Ethics, Univ. of Washington
Arnold S. Relman, M.D., Prof. of Medicine, HMS; Editor, NEJM
Larry R. Churchill, Chair, Social Medicine, Univ. N. Carolina School of Med.
Bernadine Healy, M.D., Director, National Institutes of Health
Robert Lawrence, M.D., Director, Health Sciences, Rockefeller Foundation
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Ph.D. Chair, Afro-American Studies Dept., Harvard Univ.
Sissela Bok, Ph.D., Fellow, Harvard Center for Population and Development
Daniel Callahan, Ph.D., Founder, The Hastings Center
Daniel D. Federman, M.D., Dean for Medical Education, Harvard Medical School
Elie Wiesel, Mellon Professor of The Humanities, Boston University
Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President, The Children’s Defense Fund
Dame Cicely Saunders, St. Christopher’s Hospice, London
Rashi Fein, Ph.D., Professor of The Economics of Medicine, Emeritus, HMS
Howard Gardner, Ph.D., Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Jerome P. Kassirer, M.D., Editor-in-Chief, Emeritus, New England Journal of Medicine
Paul Farmer, M.D., Ph.D., Co-Founder, Partners in Health
Harvey V. Fineberg, M.D., Ph.D., President of the Institute of Medicine
Paul R. Krugman, Ph.D., Professor of Economics and International Affairs, Princeton University
Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times op-ed columnist, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner
Donald M. Berwick, M.D., M.P.P., F.R.C.P., Former Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Dan W. Brock, Ph.D., Frances Glessner Lee Professor of Medical Ethics, HMS
Cass R. Sunstein, JD, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard Law School
Martha Minnow, Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
Michael Sandel, Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government Theory, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University