What Would a Fair Society Look Like?

Hosted by STICERD

In-person and online public event (Old Theatre, Old Building)


Daniel Chandler

Daniel Chandler

Professor Margaret Levi

Professor Margaret Levi


Professor David Runciman

Professor David Runciman


Polly Toynbee

Polly Toynbee



Professor Oriana Bandiera

Professor Oriana Bandiera

Our society faces multiple crisis — culture wars, unprecedented dissatisfaction with democracy, vast inequalities, a climate and ecological emergency — but where is the alternative? 

In his new book, Free and Equal: What Would a Fair Society Look Like?, Daniel Chandler argues that the ideas we need are hiding in plain sight, in the work of the twentieth century's greatest political philosopher, John Rawls. Although Rawls revolutionised philosophy — he is routinely compared to figures such as Plato, Hobbes and Mill – his distinctive vision of a fair society has had little impact on politics, until now. 

In this talk Daniel Chandler will explore how Rawls’s ideas can rehabilitate liberalism as a progressive public philosophy, and point the way towards a practical agenda that would reinvigorate democratic politics and transform, or even transcend, capitalism.

Meet our speakers and chair

Daniel Chandler (@dan_chandler) is an economist and philosopher based at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has degrees in economics, philosophy and history from Cambridge and the LSE, and was awarded a Henry Fellowship at Harvard where he studied under Amartya Sen. He has worked in the British Government as a policy advisor in the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit and Deputy Prime Minister's Office, and as a researcher at think tanks including the Resolution Foundation and Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Margaret Levi (@margaretlevi) is Professor of Political Science and Senior Fellow at the Center for Democracy, Development and Rule of Law (CDDRL) at Stanford University and Bacharach Professor Emerita of International Studies at the University of Washington. Levi is author or coauthor of numerous articles and books, including Of Rule and Revenue; Consent, Dissent, and Patriotism); Analytic Narratives; Cooperation Without Trust?; and In the Interest of Others. She was general editor of Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics and is co-general editor of the Annual Review of Political Science. She serves on several boards and has been a visiting fellow in multiple institutes and universities globally.

David Runciman is Professor of Politics at Cambridge University.  His books include How Democracy Ends (2018), Where Power Stops (2019) and Confronting Leviathan (2021).  His latest book is The Handover: How We Gave Control of Our Lives to Corporations, States and Artificial Intelligence. He writes regularly about politics in the London Review of Books, where he is a Contributing Editor.

Polly Toynbee (@pollytoynbee), Guardian columnist, is a former BBC Social Affairs Editor. She has won two national press awards as Commentator of the Year and the George Orwell prize. Her books include, A Working Life, Hospital, Lost Children and Hard Work, Life in Low Pay Britain. With David Walker, other books include Unjust Rewards, The Verdict: Did Labour Change Britain? and The Lost Decade 2010-2020. Her latest book is An Uneasy Inheritance - My family and other radicals.

Oriana Bandiera is the Sir Anthony Atkinson Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a honorary foreign member of the American Economic Association, a fellow of the British Academy, the Econometric Society, CEPR, BREAD and IZA. She is co-editor of Econometrica, president of the European Economic Association, and director of the Hub for Equal Representation at LSE and of the Gender, Growth and Labour Markets in Low-Income Countries (G²LM|LIC) programme at IZA.

More about this event

This event will be available to watch on LSE Live. LSE Live is the new home for our live streams, allowing you to tune in and join the global debate at LSE, wherever you are in the world. If you can't attend live, a video will be made available shortly afterwards on LSE's YouTube channel.

The event is supported by the Mouradian Foundation.

Established in 1978, the Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines (@STICERD_LSE) carry out research within nine research programmes. It also houses the Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) and self standing programmes such as Beveridge 2.0 and the Hayek Programme.

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