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The Concepts of Kant, Marx and Sandel


This paper reviews the significance of the concepts of three great philosophers; Kant, Marx and Sandel and their relevance in making decisions today. Their concepts have been used in different areas to explain certain mysteries in the world of philosophy. These philosophers had broad arguments of different areas that sparked a heated debate in the social and political arena. Despite the fact that some of their arguments were projected in anticipation of the future, they are applicable in the current world. This paper captures the negative aspects of human nature, greed and freedom as portrayed by the three theorists. Greed has eroded the moral values that bound the society together, compelling human being to act like predators against their fellow human. This paper reviews the ideas of the three philosophers and their relevance to leadership and management. These concepts have been used by great leaders to make decisions that have created foundations of great theories.

The Concepts of Kant, Marx and Sandel

Kant views the broad aspect of humanity from a critical perspective. He considers personal freedom as a vital tool that enables people fight greed effectively (Kant and Allen 18). Scholar should be allowed to express their freedom of thought on matters that are of public interest in order to help eradicate unethical behavior in the society. One the other hand, Sandle claims that peoples traits such as greed are direct contributor to financial crisis that have been evident in the global spectrum (Sandel 9). According to Sandel, there are two main problems that are of great concern as a result of wrong decision making. The two reasons which have become global problems includes: corruption and inequality. Marx points that the society has been corrupted by human greed which has lead to two categories in the society. Marx argues that the modern world has been fashioned by one such subsidiary class, the bourgeoisie, or in its effort against the noble leaders of feudal society. Out of what Marx call “craving greed”, a certain class of people has dominated the limited resource pushing the unfortunate members of the society to the edges of poverty and slavery (Tucker 477).

The modern society is defined on the basis of financial power, whereby, the people with little financial potential are subjects to people with great financial power. The rich people have greater say in engineering policies that governs the entire society. Money has enabled people influence political decisions, get better health services, receive public attention, and probably secure a peaceful neighborhood far from criminal prone zones. Financial power has seen many countries raise their life expectancy through creation of better services that support and raise living standards. Greed has been the main reason behind management failure and collapse of major organizations. Claims of corruption have been rampant in many organizations and have resulted to management failure and decreased performance. In the current world, these traits in leadership have been the main cause of poor management and leadership.

Sandel claims that vital aspects that defined society have been compromised by the greed. Many people finds comfort in immaturity because most of the time there are supportive resource and key person like pastors, books, physicians, teachers among others who determine their decisions and daily choices. Kant believes that some people make use of their money, to be assisted in all situations and therefore they don’t find it necessary to involve themselves in decision making (Tucker 484). This aspect has been the main reason behind idleness that has seen some people become servants of others. This lifestyle has seen many people become dependent on guardians opinion and are not able to make concrete decision on what they need in their own life. Max believes that money has lead to idleness because people always want to use it to do what they should have done instead.

From a personal example, I once worked with Red Bull in the operations department. Being a leading drink manufacture in the world, the company handles big orders that are bulky and cumbersome. In order to ensure quick delivery of the manufacture products, there are general arrangements made in all transport links to ensure minimum delays. This sometimes may include paying for special pathways and packages in order to minimize delays which do not favor the business. As Sandel claims, financial power is being used to jump queues (Sandel 43). Due to great dynamism in the market and high level of competition, most company seeks better option that keeps them on the top of their competitors. Despite the competition pressure, there is need to abide in the moral jurisdiction that protects the interest of the society.

According to Sandel, greed has influence many activities and in a way; they have led to what is referred to as “Market-oriented thinking” (Sandel 17). Out of this thinking, there has been proliferation of many for-profit “institutions”, including; hospital, school and even prisons. Sandel condemns the use of money on almost everything and considers this as the reason behind flawed decisions. His arguments are relevant in the current society which is defined and arranged of financial basis. Marx claims that this system has made the family relation become “worthless money relations” (480). People with equal cash in the pockets stay together sharing more ideas of getting the remaining coin from the pockets of the proletarians. However, it is not possible to live without this class, the bourgeoisie, because they always influence the market processes with their mighty instruments of production.

In the current society, most institutions have faced challenges in administering transparency because money driven employees are vulnerable to corruption. In countries such as Britain and United States, privates security firm have overridden the public police forces that are mandated with the capacity of ensuring security. Health disparity in United States has been a major concern for many years. There was a hot debate on the Medicaid program that was intended to raise the health standard of majority of poor Americans. This program received little support from the rich clergy because there felt that their efforts were being undermined. Such examples portray how huge the gap between the poor and the rich is.

Having worked in investment banking, I realized how important relationships are. The leadership of this banking ensured that relationships among the employees were boosted through special programs. Despite the difference in financial ability among different employee, the special programs brought together all staffs including the subordinates. Some of the programs included having outing together in order to cultivate a more concrete relationship that is not based on financial classification but on social moral culture. These programs made the employees own the organisation and increased satisfaction of the employee and as a result improved the performance generally.

Sandel object the view of many economists who feel that markets are inert and do not affect the commodities exchanged (Sandel 12). He firmly believes that market puts a mark on the persons involved in the processes and at the same time interferes with the values and principles that build society. When money takes the centers stage, there are certain principles of life that are bound to be eroded. Whether in school or in the hospital, the aspect of compromise and favor may features often, therefore distorting the principles that define a perfect society. For example, hiring foreign machineries to fight internal war might sustain the lives of the citizen but on the negative side erode the values of citizenship of the country. Marx argument of the decisions made in current times is based on modern bourgeois society. It is quite evident that history has revealed different arrangement of people in the society. From the ancient Rome, there were categories of people, in the order of patricians-knights-plebeians-slaves, while the Middle era had a different order; the feudal lords-vassals-guild-masters-journeymen-apprentices-serfs. Marx observes that the current society has been divided in two main hostile groups: the Bourgeoisie and Proletariat. The bourgeoisie society has eroded idyllic, feudal, and patriarchal relations. This notion has distorted the motley feudal connections that bound so moral attributes in the society (Tucker 477).

As Kant projects, the essence of protecting the public use of one’s reason is to nurture the freedom that enables a person make certain decisions even when he attains a position in the civil office (Kant and Allen 12). The decisions made by a person, even when in the civil office, percolate from one’s freedom of argument. Despite the common jurisdictions that are evident in all civil posts, there are ultimate decisions that a person makes based on the person’s freedom to hire opinions. I strongly concur with Kant’s thoughts on personal freedom. Personal freedom conveys personal integrity which is vital in management and leadership. The idea of constraining the freedom may not offer good implications to a person’s performance. There are governments that are manipulated by few people while serving the interest of all citizens. Therefore, according to Kant, it would be more harmful for an officer who works on his supervisors order to lack the audacity to question usefulness or expediency of the orders given to him. It would be irrational for a person to be barred from making vital comment, as a scholar, on the mistakes identified in his civil office.

As Sandel asserts, the market seems to have a corrosive tendency, because of promoting certain attitudes toward what is being exchanged. For example, paying children some money in order to encourage them to read might have a positive result on their performance, but have a negative impact on their attitude towards learning. This action might prompt the children to consider reading a chore rather than intrinsic source of information. The children will end up reading to gain something and once the “something” is not available, they might turn out to be idlers. Therefore, according to Sandel, the concept of using money to influence certain processes is completely flawed. Money in certain aspects acts as a catalyst, to trigger quick and fast reaction. However, the implication of the entire notion is harmful and unreasonable to a perfect society.

The idea of using money to buy almost everything was the reason behind slavery, where human being considered other human beings as commodities for sale. Humanness was eroded when people became commodities of sale and these brought ruthless processes in the human cycle. It is quite in appropriate to treat human beings as commodities of the market processes. When human beings are not valued with dignity, then, the principles of life do not apply at all. Sandle does not support the idea of buying and selling children in the market because the process, in itself, is flawed and promotes wrong culture of valuing children. The society should reverse the idea of making money out of selling children and instead reinforce the principles of love and family. In his argument, Sandel claims that, “civic duties should not be regarded as private property but be viewed instead as public responsibility” p.19. Reasoning in this perspective can help eliminate processes that are dangerous to moral values.

For Kant, freedom is the only ingredient that in required to bring enlightenment. In his view, freedom is the considered to be “public use of one’s reason”, in the form of argument (Kant and Allen 20). There are many situations where a person’s freedom is challenged, to the extent that a person is completely shunned from making his own contribution of reasoning. A good example is scenario where police officer finds a person the offensive side and tells him “don’t argue”, or maybe the tax collectors attitude of making demand and telling a person, “don’t argue, and just pay”. The pastor in the church may compel a believer to keep silence and “just believe”. There are many hindrances to freed that are common in the different areas where human activity is evident. Kant suggests that the general public use of one’s freedom should not be jeopardized at any time. A person should always be given freedom to hire his opinion and argument and there should be no efforts to shun this freedom.

Marx claims that this system has made the family relation become worthless money relation. People with equal cash in the pockets stay together sharing more ideas of getting the remaining coin from the pockets of the proletarians. However, it is not possible to live without this class, the bourgeoisie, because they always influence the market processes with their mighty instruments of production.

Under industrialization, the source of production and exchange that propels the process of change and expansion have created a new era of subordinate urban class whose fortune is fundamentally tied to that of the bourgeoisie. This group is made of industrial proletariats, or what may be referred to as modern working class. Modern industrial workers are oppressed by the bourgeoisie and compelled to compete with each other for ever-shrinking earnings as the means of production grow and become more sophisticated (Tucker 474).

Many vices evident in the society today are as result of lacking clear distinction on what can be sold and what cannot be sold. In the world today, money can almost buy anything, including; car, wife, children, fame, sex, yacht, comfort, food, and anything else. With money, human beings can go anywhere, live anywhere including the moon and mars. There are no defined limits when money is able to cater for the requirements in whatever situation. This aspect has changed the society to the length where values and limits that govern people are completely eroded. A person can kill another person and buy his freedom by hiring good lawyer and probably influencing the decision of the judge. Currently, institutions and companies have their own lawyers who normally defend their course in any legal matter.

According to Marx, the bourgeoisie society brought a flawed system that valued “cash” rather that the moral foundation that used to be the center of life in the society (Tucker 480).This current system has drowned religious fervor and all manner of heavenly ecstasies and instead replaced them with brutal exploitation of humanity. This system has converted the people who used to make great influence in the society like the poet, scientist, priest, musician among others, to paid wage-laborers. Leaders should embrace a system that does not overlook certain members of the society like the bourgeois society.

Future leaders or may be the leaders of today must promote systems that protect human rights. There are some conditions that are not favorable to the poor people especially in the bourgeoisie society. Having been employed, I have personally faced the challenges faced by proletarians. One of the most traumatizing condition I have faced as an employee is poor salary that does not match my profession. In many occasions, I was compelled to convince the management that I am equal to the task in order to be factored for promotion. However, it is quite a challenge to work in an environment where there is no development and growth on a personal basis. In employment, it is important for employer to allow a room for self actualization and personal development.

In what he refers to as conquest of political power by the proletarians, Marx foresees a situation where the bourgeoisie will be overpowered by the proletarian parties under the communistic approach. The brutality expressed by bourgeoisie will definitely generate the necessary forces that will eventually turn against the system. Communism is a sign of overpowered bourgeois society where people are turning around and taking a different direction that enable healthy collaboration (Tucker 484).

There are important concepts that future leaders need to borrow from the arguments of the three philosophers. There is need to change the current trend in order to strengthen moral values in a society that has been catalyzed by the market oriented thinking. The best way to change this situation is by creating appropriate mechanisms that discourages the overemphasis on market oriented thinking. By replacing the bourgeois society with communist society, there will be a sense of belonging for every member of the society (Tucker 476).


Kant believes that freedom is the only element that in required to bring enlightenment. He consider some traits such as cowardice and idleness as factors that contribute to low development in humanity, and the main cause of immaturity among the people. Unlike Kant, Sandel feel that markets hold key to freedom and prosperity rather than government decisions.  This philosopher feels that markets have a big stake in decisions that are made in different nations. In his opinion, Sandel feel that markets are chief means of achieving public good. Marx considers extreme idealism as baseless and lacking bearing in the material globe. He asserts that the associations between different nations and states are dependent on the altitude of their productive forces. Sandel portray biasness in the type of decision making that is manipulated by financial potential in the era of market triumphalism. Sandel’s superseding intention as a philosopher is to call back morality into the political context. He maintains that classic liberal discourse is confined in the morally neutral perception of utilitarianism.

The arguments by the three philosophers are vital concepts that are required in day to day engagement with the social and political systems. There are quite applicable and relevant in the current world. From a management point of view, the market oriented thinking is not appropriate in leadership. A leader should be driven by inner drive, or rather passion, in order to be able to perform his or her duties appropriately. In most cases, market oriented thinking encourages corruption in leadership, a situation that jeopardizes organizational performance negatively. Having worked in a nongovernmental organization for some time, I realized that most of my colleagues valued money rather that the service they were supposed to offer to the society. Actually, it is expected that that every job should be rewarding with reasonable salaries and wages. However, it is important to be reasonable when negotiating for the reward and salary. Greed has succeeded in dividing the society into different categories; however the freedom of expression is a key tool that can be used to change the current trend. Every person has a room to make his or her contribution of idea in order to restructure the evil norm of greed.

Works Cited

Kant, Immanuel, and Allen W. Wood. Toward perpetual peace and other writings on politics, peace, and history. Yale University Press, 2006.

Sandel, Michael J. What money can’t buy: the moral limits of markets. Macmillan, 2012.

Tucker, Robert C., ed. “The Marx-Engels Reader.” 1978.