Moral Maze

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2013020620130209

Engaging debate on the moral virtue of marriage. Chaired by Michael Buerk

It doesn't matter which side of the gay marriage debate you are on it seems that both sides agree on one thing - the moral virtue of marriage. The institution of a public declaration of commitment between two individuals is said to be a cornerstone of society promoting stable relationships, commitment and self-sacrifice. The very virtues that traditionalists say make marriage unique are the same ones liberals argue should therefore be made available to all, whatever their sexuality. It's not just an argument here. The French and Americans have also been battling over who should be allowed to marry. But the debate raises some difficult questions. If marriage is such a moral virtue shouldn't the state be actively promoting it? After all, isn't that one of the main purposes of the state - to pursue policies that promote virtue among citizens? So for a start how about tax breaks for those getting married? And if marriage is such a public good, shouldn't all those liberals who want to widen the marriage franchise also be thinking about stigmatising those behaviours and changing those policies that undermine it? Should divorce be made harder? Should lone parents get less financial help from the state? And if marriage is so good, what's the point of civil partnerships? How far should the state encourage marriage?

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips, Matthew Taylor and Kenan Malik. Witnesses: Professor Andrew Samuels - Psychoanalyst, Phillip Blond - Director, ResPublica, Dr Sharon James - Coalition for Marriage, Ruth Hunt, Director of Public Affairs, Stonewall.

20130213

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Anne McElvoy, Giles Fraser and Claire Fox.

2013032720130330

George Orwell (who is soon to have his statue erected outside New Broadcasting House) said 'Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.'

Education Secretary Michael Gove is bringing in a new school history syllabus. The story of Britain will be taught in chronological order from the first year of primary school to the age of 14, finishing with the election of Margaret Thatcher. The emphasis will be on facts and dates. There will be no more of those essay assignments that begin 'Imagine you're a slave bound for the West Indies...'

Is it right to put Britain at the centre of the story and to mention foreigners only insofar as they have impinged upon our nation (and vice very much versa)? Or is it more moral to teach children the history of the planet because we are all citizens of the world?

Should history teachers be aiming to turn out good citizens with shared moral values? If so - whose values? Is it more important to teach national pride or national humility? Is an emphasis on 'cultural sensitivity' just left-wing propaganda in disguise?

And is it right that a politician should be able to dictate the history syllabus in the first place? Some of the precedents for it - in Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany and Mao's China - are not encouraging.

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Claire Fox, Giles Fraser, Matthew Taylor and Anne McElvoy. Witnesses: Chris McGovern - Chairman, The Campaign for Real Education, Antony Beevor - Historian, Sir Richard Evans - Regius Professor of History and President of Woolfson College, University of Cambridge, Matthew Wilkinson Director and Principal Researcher

Curriculum for Cohesion.

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Claire Fox, Giles Fraser, Matthew Taylor and Anne McElvoy.

20130626

They've been called the Dick Turpin generation - but time could be up for the Baby Boomers this week as the Chancellor announces spending cuts of £11.5 billion in the Spending Review. With budgets so tight previously sacrosanct universal benefits, like free bus passes and winter fuel payments for rich pensioners start to look tempting targets. But for some this is more than just an argument about balancing the books - it's about inter-generational equity. Instead of being custodians of future generations the Baby Boomers are accused of busily raiding their kids' piggy-banks - saddling them with a vast and increasing national debt to fund for their own generous pensions and welfare payouts. That, combined with universal free healthcare, free education to degree level and steadily rising house values have made the post-war generation healthier and wealthier than any before. And now they're accused of pulling up the ladder behind them. Following generations if they want to go to university will leave with a massive debt hanging over them, 1 in 5 16 to 24 year olds are unemployed, housing is now so expensive the average first time buyer is 35 years old, they'll have to work longer before they get a pension and when they do it will be pitifully small compared to the those of their parents. Is this just a sad fact of the recession or is a greater moral crime being committed here - "generational theft"? Can you really blame the post-war generation for the luck of having lived through a period of unprecedented peace and prosperity and then claiming what is their right and what they've already paid for through their taxes? And the silver pound adds billions to the economy through spending, property and savings. Or have the baby boomers become uniquely blind to their own selfishness while they steal the future from underneath the noses of their own children? Or do the young only have themselves to blame because they don't vote and the older generation does? The morality of inter-generational equity.

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Anne McElvoy, Giles Fraser, Matthew Taylor and Melanie Phillips. Witnesses: Ros Altmann - Former Director-General of Saga, Angus Hanton - co-founder of the Intergenerational Foundation, Ed Howker - co-author of "Jilted Generation: how Britain has bankrupted its youth", Stuart Prebble - producer of 'Grumpy Old Men' TV series and books.

20130710

Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt may have only had a 51% majority in last year's election, but by all accounts it was a fair a free election, and with such a high turn-out it gave him the kind of democratic mandate that many politicians in the West would envy. At the time it was hailed as something of a triumph of democracy - the people had spoken - a military dictator was overthrown in a largely bloodless revolution and for the first time in that country's history Egyptians had the opportunity to choose their leaders. Well, the people have spoken again. They've taken to the streets in their millions to vent dissatisfaction with Mr Morsi's government; the army has taken charge and Mohammed Morsi and many of his party are now in prison. All this, we are told, is in the name of democracy. Is it ever acceptable to support the military overthrow of a democratically elected government? Is democracy always an absolute good and no matter how unpalatable, and to some the Islamist policies of the Muslim Brotherhood were very unpalatable, we should always stand by the result? Is democracy a morally unambiguous value? Should we always be on the sides of the masses regardless of the consequences to them and our national interests? Or is that debating club naivety? Is democracy only ever the means to an end and the only moral imperative for us in the West should be to always safeguard our interests? Is the reality that the last thing a volatile region like the Middle East needs is a religiously fuelled government and in the wider interest and our national interest, we should support the coup. And however contradictory it sounds is it right to see this coup as part of a democratic process and in this case the ends, of establishing a stable democratic government, justify the means? Or is that in fact thinly veiled anti-Islamic prejudice that is the start of a slippery slope that leads to Western interventionism? Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Anne McElvoy, Kenan Malik and Matthew Taylor. Witnesses: Mamoun Fandy- Director of London Global Strategy Institute, Dr Maha Azzam- Associate Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Rachel Shabi- author Not the Enemy: Israel's Jews from Arab Lands written extensively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Middle East, Con Coughlin - international terrorism expert and defence editor Daily Telegraph.

20131009

It was a complex and nuanced ruling, but its ramifications could be profound. Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, yesterday explained why it was right not to charge two doctors over claims they offered abortions based on gender. It wasn't just that on the facts in these cases it would not be possible to prove that either doctor had carried out gender-specific abortions, but also that the 1967 Abortion Act doesn't expressly prohibit such abortions. The ruling has highlighted what for some is the vague and unsatisfactory nature of the law on abortion. Mr Starmer accepted that some would disagree with his decision, but says that if current arrangements are deemed unsatisfactory, it may be time for others to tighten or change the law. The act is now nearly fifty years old and over that time our social values have changed almost as much as our scientific knowledge in this field. So what are the moral tests we should apply today to what should be one of the most profound moral choices we face?

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Panellists:

Claire Fox, Melanie Phillips, Anne McElvoy and Giles Fraser. WITNESSES: Professor John Millbank, Professor in Religion, Politics and Ethics Nottingham University; Dr Sarah Chan, Deputy Director Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation, Manchester University; Dr Trevor Stammers, Programme Director in Bioethics and Medical law, St Mary's University College Twickenham; Professor Wendy Savage, Professor in Middlesex University's Health And Social Sciences Department, and a member of Doctors for Women's Choice on Abortion.

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Claire Fox, Melanie Phillips, Anne McElvoy and Giles Fraser.

20131106

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Michael Portillo, Claire Fox, Anne McElvoy and Kenan Malik.

20131127

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Claire Fox, Anne McElvoy, Giles Fraser and Matthew Taylor.

20131204

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Michael Portillo, Matthew Taylor, Melanie Phillips and Kenan Malik.

20140205

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Melanie Phillips, Michael Portillo, Giles Fraser and Matthew Taylor.

20140212

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Claire Fox, Michael Portillo, Anne McElvoy, Matthew Taylor.

20140219

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Claire Fox, Michael Portillo, Giles Fraser and Anne McElvoy.

20140226

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Melanie Phillips, Anne McElvoy, Matthew Taylor and Giles Fraser.

20140305

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

20140312

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Claire Fox, Anne McElvoy, Matthew Taylor, Giles Fraser.

20140319

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Claire Fox, Michael Portillo, Giles Fraser, Anne McElvoy.

20140326

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Melanie Phillips, Claire Fox, Michael Portillo and Matthew Taylor.

2014061820140621

Combative, provocative and engaging debate.

20140709

Michael Buerk presents combative, provocative and engaging debate.

20140716

Michael Buerk presents combative, provocative and engaging debate.

20141015

Combative, provocative and engaging debate.

20141022

Combative, provocative and engaging debate.

20141105

Debate programme that examines the ethical issues behind topical news stories.

20141112

Debate programme that examines the ethical issues behind topical news stories.

20141126

Debate programme that examines the ethical issues behind topical news stories.

20141203

David Aaronovitch hosts a debate on the ethical issues behind a topical news story.

20141210

Debate programme that examines the ethical issues behind topical news stories.

20150211

Combative, provocative and engaging debate.

20150218

Combative, provocative and engaging debate.

20150225

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Claire Fox, Anne McElvoy, Michael Portillo and Matthew Taylor.

20150304

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Claire Fox, Giles Fraser, Anne McElvoy and Melanie Phillips.

20150311

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

20150318

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

20150325

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Claire Fox, Melanie Phillips, Michael Portillo and Matthew Taylor.

20150610

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Claire Fox, Melanie Phillips, Anne McElvoy and Matthew Taylor.

20150701

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Melanie Phillips, Giles Fraser, Anne McElvoy and Sunder Katwala.

20150708

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Matthew Taylor, Giles Fraser, Claire Fox and Jill Kirby.

20150715

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Matthew Taylor, Giles Fraser, Anne McElvoy and Jill Kirby.

20150722

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox, Melanie Phillips and Anne McElvoy.

20150729

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Matthew Taylor, Giles Fraser, Anne McElvoy and Melanie Phillips.

20151021

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk, with Giles Fraser, Michael Portillo, Claire Fox and Melanie Phillips.

20151104

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk, with Matthew Taylor, Giles Fraser, Melanie Phillips and Anne McElvoy.

20151202

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox, Michael Portillo and Anne McElvoy.

20151209

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Matthew Taylor, Giles Fraser, Anne McElvoy and Claire Fox.

20160217

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Melanie Phillips, Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox and Jill Kirby.

20160224

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Melanie Phillips, Michael Portillo, Claire Fox and Giles Fraser.

20160302

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox, Anne McElvoy and Giles Fraser.

20160309

20160309

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox, Anne McElvoy and Giles Fraser.

20160309

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox, Anne McElvoy and Giles Fraser.

20160316

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Melanie Phillips, Michael Portillo, Matthew Taylor and Anne McElvoy.

666 Evil20150805

Looking back at some of the stories that have been in the news during this series of Moral Maze you could be forgiven for despairing of humanity. The suspected firebombing by Jewish settlers killing a Palestinian baby, the white supremacist who shot dead nine people at a church in South Carolina and where to start with so-called IS? Public stoning, mass executions and lessons in beheading for school children are just some of their stock-in-trade. Faced with such a litany of horrors it's tempting to reach for the word "evil" - nothing else quite does justice to the enormity of this kind of barbarity. If we can comfortably categorise an action as evil, what about the people who carried them out? Are they evil too? The problem of evil has long exercised theologians and moral philosophers. As our understanding of psychology and the neurosciences has developed what role should the notion of evil have in our moral, political, and legal thinking? Is evil an out-dated, redundant superstition which should be abandoned? Are we all, given sufficient provocation or circumstance, capable of committing evil acts? And if that is the case is there no horror which cannot be explained away? If we abandon the concept of evil what does that do to the idea of free will? Without evil would we drift into moral relativism? Or is the charge of being evil an easy get out for us all? By suggesting that evil is something alien and other, something of which we are possessed, that takes us over, it conveniently absolves us of the deeply unpleasant task of recognising that these people are part of our world. On the six hundredth and sixty-sixth edition of the programme the Moral Maze looks at the problem of evil.

Brussels Bombing20160323

The fact that the Belgian authorities had been expecting an attack doesn't diminish the shock of yet another bombing with mass casualties in a European capital. Belgium's foreign minister said on Sunday that Salah Abdeslam, the prime surviving suspect in the Paris attacks, could have been plotting more operations. Tragically, he was proved right. That Salah was able to hide in Brussels, under the noses of the Belgian police, for more than four months raises uncomfortable questions for them - and also for us. The UK government is still fighting to get its Investigatory Powers Bill onto the statute book. Its supporters believe it will enable the police and security services to fight terrorism and crime more effectively. Opponents say it will destroy our fundamental right to privacy and believe their arguments have been given more force by the revelations of Edward Snowdon about the extent of secret surveillance. The Brussels bombs came on the day that the FBI in America said they'd found a way to get round Apple's security and unlock the phone of an Islamist terrorist who killed 14 people in California last December. Apple had refused to co-operate, saying it would have security implications for millions of iPhone users all over the world. When we're faced with ruthless terrorists, intent on committing mass murder, how much privacy do we have a right to demand? And who should police it? These bombs were in the city that is the symbolic heart of the European Union and that has - for many - come to symbolise the hard-won freedoms and values we cherish in the West. What price do we place on those freedoms and values? And how much are we willing to compromise them to ensure our safety? How free do you want to be? Witnesses are Professor Anthony Glees, Mike Harris, Douglas Murray and Inayat Bunglawala.

Business And Displeasure2013032020130323

On Friday Prince Charles - on a nine-day tour of the Middle East - arrived in Saudi Arabia to meet his old friend King Abdullah and discuss military collaboration, opportunities for women in society, interfaith dialogue, education and environmental sustainability. Both their Royal Highnesses were conscious of the fact that Britain has sold four billion pounds' worth of weaponry to Saudi Arabia in the past five years and that BAe are currently trying to clinch a deal to supply the Kingdom with Typhoon fighter-jets. The Royal agenda did not mention Friday's execution by a Saudi firing squad of seven young men who had been arrested for a robbery in which no-one was hurt. Nor did it include the Saudi human rights activists who have recently been handed long prison sentences.

The Prime Minister, who has himself visited the Middle East at the head of an arms trade delegation, says there are "no no-go areas" when discussing the human rights record of Saudi Arabia; but he has also described the country as "a very old ally and partner" and argued that "the defence industry is like any other industry. We are in a global race."

Trade and human rights: are they separate issues, never to be confused? Or, when we go into business negotiations, should the way a government treats its citizens be part of the discussion? If it should, how ought we to balance our own interests against the suffering of people for whom we're not responsible? Are there any absolute moral principles to guide us, or will it always be a messy and pragmatic calculation?

There are some who say we don't have the right to lecture other countries about human rights. Do we? And, if we do, at what cost in money and jobs to ourselves?

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Anne McElvoy, Kenan Malik and Claire Fox. Witnesses: Howard Wheeldon - Independent defence analyst, Andrew Alexander - Daily Mail columnist, Gabrielle Rifkind - Director of the Middle East programme at Oxford Research Group, David Mepham - Director, Human Rights Watch.

Charities20160210

Charity in the UK is big business. There are over 165,000 charities registered with the Charity Commission, and the total annual income of the sector is more than £100 billion. But what should they be allowed to spend their money on? The government has just announced that charities which receive state grants will not be allowed to spend any of that tax payers cash on political campaigning. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations has described the change as "draconian" and will amount to "gagging" them. There is a lot at stake. Charities get £13 billion pounds a year from national or local government. Figures from the National Audit Office show that that money makes up well over a half of the annual income of many well-known charities. Being a prophetic witness has always been a key aspect of what charities do. Campaigning and political activity is a vital part of that, but should it be funded by us the taxpayer, whether by direct grants or via the tax breaks that are part of charitable status. Or do we need to rethink our definition of what is and isn't a charity? If public schools can qualify for charitable status, why not campaigning groups like "Liberty"? With headlines about aggressive fund raising tactics of some organisations, the charity halo has become somewhat tarnished in recent times. But do we have an outdated "Lady Bountiful" view of what charities are for? If we want our charities to make a difference is it time to accept that they need to apply all the modern commercial tools you'd expect from such a large industry. Or, in their rush for influence and impact, have charities lost site of the personal relationships, responsibilities and trust that lie at the heart of altruism? What should charity be for? Chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Anne McElvoy, Giles Fraser and Matthew Taylor. Witnesses are Andy Benson, Debra Allcock-Tyler, Christopher Snowdon and Craig Bennett.

Drugs In Sport And Human Enhancement20151111

The report from the World Anti-Doping Agency couldn't have been clearer. Russian athletes were involved in state sponsored cheating and the IAAF was involved in bribery and corruption. Admittedly it's not exactly the stuff of Chariots of Fire, but what are the real moral boundaries that have been transgressed? If you think elite sport is all about individual talent and dedication you're sadly mistaken. Top athletes in all sports are supported by multi-million pound programmes that ensure they get the best of everything - including scientists who maximise their nutrition and medical treatment. If you come from a country that can't afford to pay for it, you're already handicapped. And if your son or daughter is showing some sporting promise you better get them in to a private school quickly. Half the UK gold medal winners in 2012 were educated privately and the pattern is repeated in almost every sport outside football. Sport is many things, but fair is not one of them, so why single out performance enhancing drugs in sport when we positively embrace them in other aspects of our lives? Has anyone turned down Viagra because it might give them an unfair advantage? As science progresses the possibility of human enhancement is becoming an everyday reality. Drugs to enhance memory and attention and to enable us to be smarter? Why not? If this all sounds like some kind of dystopian nightmare don't fret because there's a growing interest in the field of bio-medical moral enhancement to make us better people as well. Human enhancement - physical and moral on the Moral Maze, but beware, listening could give you an unfair advantage. Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox, Melanie Phillips and Anne McElvoy.

Forgiveness20131211

"As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison." If ever there was man who demonstrated the power of forgiveness it was Nelson Mandela. His personal example showed how forgiveness is the most powerful catalyst in the resolution of conflict. South Africa still has its problems but how much worse would they have been if Mandela had called for retribution for all the victims of apartheid, instead of leading the country in a process of truth and reconciliation, where crimes committed under the regime would be forgiven if people confessed their guilt and told the truth about their actions. Mandela was certainly a moral exemplar that we would all do well to try and emulate. Closer to home many people in Northern Ireland are still struggling to find personal peace despite the political settlement of the Good Friday Agreement. A few weeks ago, when Northern Ireland's attorney general John Larkin proposed ending Troubles-related prosecutions his idea was metaphorically drowned out by those demanding justice for the dead. Would the reaction be different if he'd made his proposal now, with Nelson Mandela's example fresh in our mind? In the interest of peace, do we all have a duty to forgive? Or are we expecting too much from victims, so that we can have the comfort of forgetting their pain and loss? Eric Lomax was a prisoner of the Japanese on the infamous Burma-Siam railway. He was mercilessly beaten in captivity. A film of his life "The Railway Man" tells the remarkable story of how Mr Lomax forgave the man who tortured him. As he said "sometimes the hating has to stop." But are their some things we should never forgive? What are the moral limits of forgiveness?

Freedom Of Expression2014070220140705

What are the limits of freedom of expression?

Freedom of Expression20140702

Freedom of Expression20140702

In Germany an angst-ridden debate has started on the future of Hitler's Mein Kampf. Copyright of the book has been held by the Bavarian state government which has blocked publication in Germany. In 2015 the copyright expires and ministers are now considering whether to ban it all together. The president of Germany's Central Council of Jews says Mein Kampf is a work of irrational hatred that should be forbidden for everyone. When is an opinion, a lecture, a sermon, or a book so abhorrent that it should forever more be banned? It's a question that's increasingly being asked in the UK as more cases come to light of extremist Muslim preachers radicalising young men. Freedom of speech advocates argue bans don't defeat the arguments they just drive them underground where they flourish unchallenged. Public debate and security, they argue, is the best form of defence. But do the normal rules of political discourse apply when it comes to those who preach sedition? Doesn't the state have a right and a duty to protect its citizens against the propagation of such threats? What rules should we apply to make these judgements and who has the moral authority to make those decisions? Is it only the scale and imminence of the threat? Should you make exceptions for a book like Mein Kampf on the grounds that it's now more of an historical curiosity than anything else? Does the cultural context make a difference? Would it make logical and moral sense for the German's to ban the publication of Mein Kampf because of its unique history in that country - even if it was easily available elsewhere? Does the moral value of such a ban vary with the passage of time, the crossing of borders and changes of cultures? Or can we divine some moral absolutes in the debate on freedom of speech? Presented by Michael Buerk.

Witnesses are Douglas Murray, Peter Bradley, Dessislava Kirova and Jonathan Rée.

Produced by Phil Pegum.

Genetics And Education20131030

For centuries philosophers and theologians have wrestled with the question of nature versus nurture. Increasingly and for some controversially, the science of behavioural genetics is starting to come up with some of the answers. The argument is perhaps at its most sensitive when applied to education. When it was revealed that Education Secretary, Michael Gove's outgoing special advisor, Dominic Cummings, called for education policy to incorporate the science behind genes and cognitive development he broke a modern taboo and there was a predictable outcry. In a wide ranging paper Mr Cummings cited the work of Professor Robert Plomin who's about to publish a book with psychologist Dr Kathryn Asbury which calls for "genetically sensitive" schooling. It's based on a study of how genes and environment have shaped the development of over 10,000 twins who were studied from birth to early adulthood. The scientists say their work is about probability not prophecy and can be used to personalise education and create better outcomes for all, but fears of genetic determinism are deeply ingrained. How should we use genetics in education? Science is a very long way from knowing exactly which genes influence individual differences in learning but as knowledge in this field advances that time will surely come. We already use genetics to screen for various medical conditions, so why not for learning abilities? And what happens if, or when, the science of genetics becomes so powerful that we can identify different populations that are endowed with different genetic make-ups that we believe are more or less desirable? Is that just a scientific inevitability that we have to come to terms with, or does it open the door to eugenics? How should we use the science of genetics?

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips, Giles Fraser and Matthew Taylor. DR KATHRYN ASBURY - York University, co-author of 'G is for Genes', DR ANDERS SANDBERG - Research Fellow at the 'Future of Humanity Institute', Oxford University, DR DAVID KING - Founder and Director of the campaign group 'Human Genetics Alert', STEVE DAVY - Teacher at the wroxham school, Potter's Bar.

For centuries philosophers and theologians have wrestled with the question of nature versus nurture. Increasingly and for some controversially, the science of behavioural genetics is starting to come up with some of the answers. The argument is perhaps at its most sensitive when applied to education. When it was revealed that Education Secretary, Michael Gove's outgoing special advisor, Dominic Cummings, called for education policy to incorporate the science behind genes and cognitive development he broke a modern taboo and there was a predictable outcry. In a wide ranging paper Mr Cummings cited the work of Professor Robert Plomin who's about to publish a book with psychologist Dr Kathryn Asbury which calls for "genetically sensitive" schooling. It's based on a study of how genes and environment have shaped the development of over 10,000 twins who were studied from birth to early adulthood. The scientists say their work is about probability not prophecy and can be used to personalise education and create better outcomes for all, but fears of genetic determinism are deeply ingrained. How should we use genetics in education? Science is a very long way from knowing exactly which genes influence individual differences in learning but as knowledge in this field advances that time will surely come. We already use genetics to screen for various medical conditions, so why not for learning abilities? And what happens if, or when, the science of genetics becomes so powerful that we can identify different populations that are endowed with different genetic make-ups that we believe are more or less desirable? Is that just a scientific inevitability that we have to come to terms with, or does it open the door to eugenics? How should we use the science of genetics? Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips, Giles Fraser and Matthew Taylor.

Have We Forgotten The Meaning Of Charity?20110223
Have We Forgotten The Meaning Of Charity?20110223

David Cameron this week announced plans that will completely change public services, bringing in a "presumption" that charities are just as able to run schools, hospitals and welfare services as the state. He wants a massive shift from provision funded by the taxpayer to services supplied by volunteers and funded by philanthropy. But is this a proper role for charities to perform? Is it right that levels of public donation to this or that good cause should set priorities that used to be weighed up by democratically-elected MPs and councils?

And as charities become more professional and more competitive in their fund-raising, are they forgetting their place? Manchester, among many other local councils, has brought in bye-laws to control high-street 'chuggers' (short for 'charity muggers') who allegedly annoy shoppers. Research shows that the proportion of national income given to charity has stubbornly failed to increase despite all the efforts of some of the 'big boys', who

have bosses on six-figure salaries.

Charities already run schools and have a major role in the provision of housing, welfare and amenities. NSPCC and RSPCA inspectors are taking on the role of the police in cases of alleged child-abuse and cruelty to animals. Does the protection of birds really need all that money? Is cancer research really more important than all the other kinds of medical research put together? Are we heading for a national system of resource-allocation based on nothing more objective than tear-jerking adverts and pester-power? Has the 'third sector' got out of hand?

Is this, as Sir Stephen Bubb of ACEVO has written, "an exciting opportunity for the third sector to play a far greater role in delivering care and promoting the citizen's voice..." - or will giving more power to charities lead to injustice and unfairness, to responsibility without accountability?

Debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips, Claire Fox and Matthew Taylor.

Witnesses:

Sir Stephen Bubb, head of ACEVO, the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations

Nick Seddon from the think-tank 'Reform', author of "Who Cares?: How State Funding and Political Activism Change Charity".

Mike Short, National Officer for the Community and Voluntary sector, Unison

Emma Harrison, Chairman of the FSI which supports small charities.

Is Inherited Wealth Immoral?20150204

Is Inherited Wealth Immoral?20150204

An academic study by 2 economists of 634 families with rare surnames doesn't immediately sound like it's going to touch one of the rawest nerves in politics, but that's exactly what Professor Gregory Clark and Dr Neil Cummins have done. Their work shows that attempts to promote equality and a more socially mobile society are failing because the rich as so effective at passing their wealth down the generations. Using records of births and marriages and other data going back to 1841 they concluded that there is a significant correlation between the wealth of families five generations apart. You might think all this applies only to a very small number of families in the UK, but figures just released by the Land Registry show there are already 400,000 "homillionaires" - people living in properties worth more than £1 million - and the number is growing by 160 a day. Is inherited wealth and the social privileges it can secure, immoral? Is the transfer of wealth between generations an injustice - an unearned reward for no work, which elevates luck above enterprise and effort which secures access to privileges that would otherwise be beyond reach? Or is the desire to pass on to our children and grandchildren any wealth that we might have at our death, not only a natural desire to help them start out in life, but also a social and moral contract between the generations? With OECD figures showing the gap between the rich and poor in the UK is at its widest for 30 years and growing, the idea of redistributing inherited wealth is a painful matter for the baby-boomer generation. Last year the government raised £3.7 billion in inheritance tax. Was it an immoral and unjustifiable double tax raid on the prudent or a sign that we still care about social justice and meritocracy?

Is Inherited Wealth Immoral?20150204

An academic study by 2 economists of 634 families with rare surnames doesn't immediately sound like it's going to touch one of the rawest nerves in politics, but that's exactly what Professor Gregory Clark and Dr Neil Cummins have done. Their work shows that attempts to promote equality and a more socially mobile society are failing because the rich as so effective at passing their wealth down the generations. Using records of births and marriages and other data going back to 1841 they concluded that there is a significant correlation between the wealth of families five generations apart. You might think all this applies only to a very small number of families in the UK, but figures just released by the Land Registry show there are already 400,000 "homillionaires" - people living in properties worth more than £1 million - and the number is growing by 160 a day. Is inherited wealth and the social privileges it can secure, immoral? Is the transfer of wealth between generations an injustice - an unearned reward for no work, which elevates luck above enterprise and effort which secures access to privileges that would otherwise be beyond reach? Or is the desire to pass on to our children and grandchildren any wealth that we might have at our death, not only a natural desire to help them start out in life, but also a social and moral contract between the generations? With OECD figures showing the gap between the rich and poor in the UK is at its widest for 30 years and growing, the idea of redistributing inherited wealth is a painful matter for the baby-boomer generation. Last year the government raised £3.7 billion in inheritance tax. Was it an immoral and unjustifiable double tax raid on the prudent or a sign that we still care about social justice and meritocracy?

Is Inherited Wealth Immoral?20150204

An academic study by 2 economists of 634 families with rare surnames doesn't immediately sound like it's going to touch one of the rawest nerves in politics, but that's exactly what Professor Gregory Clark and Dr Neil Cummins have done. Their work shows that attempts to promote equality and a more socially mobile society are failing because the rich as so effective at passing their wealth down the generations. Using records of births and marriages and other data going back to 1841 they concluded that there is a significant correlation between the wealth of families five generations apart. You might think all this applies only to a very small number of families in the UK, but figures just released by the Land Registry show there are already 400,000 "homillionaires" - people living in properties worth more than £1 million - and the number is growing by 160 a day. Is inherited wealth and the social privileges it can secure, immoral? Is the transfer of wealth between generations an injustice - an unearned reward for no work, which elevates luck above enterprise and effort which secures access to privileges that would otherwise be beyond reach? Or is the desire to pass on to our children and grandchildren any wealth that we might have at our death, not only a natural desire to help them start out in life, but also a social and moral contract between the generations? With OECD figures showing the gap between the rich and poor in the UK is at its widest for 30 years and growing, the idea of redistributing inherited wealth is a painful matter for the baby-boomer generation. Last year the government raised £3.7 billion in inheritance tax. Was it an immoral and unjustifiable double tax raid on the prudent or a sign that we still care about social justice and meritocracy?

Islamic State Recruitment20150624

A special Europe-wide police unit was launched this week to track and close down Islamic State social media accounts. It's been launched in response to concerns not enough is being done to prevent IS propaganda. Thousands of young European men, including an estimated 700 Britons, have travelled to Syria to join the group. Are they just victims of seductive propaganda? Or is IS pushing at an open door? According to Prime Minister David Cameron parts of some Muslim communities have to share the blame for young Britons joining IS forces because they've "quietly condoned" extremist ideology instead of confronting it. The accusation comes at a sensitive time for Muslims during the festival of Ramadan and has been condemned for focusing on a very small minority and feeding a divisive "us and them" agenda. But is that what this is? A battle of ideologies? Is it enough to just put forward a negative critique of extremism, or does that play into the hands of the terrorists? Are we in danger of expanding the word "radical" to mean "too religious"? And what if, despite it all, people do want to go and fight for a cause with which we profoundly disagree? Should we just let them go and defy international law and strip them of their British citizenship to make sure they can't come back? Is there a moral difference between those going to Syria and the 4000 or so British and Irish who travelled to Spain to fight with the International Brigades?

Islamic Terrorism20151118

Perhaps one of the truly shocking things to come out of the events in Paris this week is that the security services were expecting a mass casualty terrorist attack and there are almost certain to be more of them in the future. Does the nature of modern terrorism mean we now have to change our way of life including what many regard as our fundamental liberal values? Does the threat mean that we all have to accept less freedom and more surveillance? Does the Muslim community have to accept that inevitably they will be subject to more scrutiny? President Hollande has said that France will destroy IS and there are those who see Islamic terrorism as an existential threat to our civilisation. But in our rush to arms and the moral barricades are we in danger of sacrificing the core values that our societies have been built on? The Moral Maze has been following the issue of Islamic terrorism, fundamentalism and how we should react to it since 1994. Paris has now been added to the list that already includes London, Madrid and many others over those years. This week we'll be inviting back witnesses who've appeared on our programme about this issue over the decades to take an historical perspective and to ask "where we go from here?" Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox, Michael Portillo and Anne McElvoy. Witnesses are Inayat Bunglawala, Simon Jenkins, Dr Taj Hargey and Edward Lucas.

Just War and Gaza20140723

Just War and Gaza20140723

The gruesome and heart rending pictures this week of the broken and shattered bodies of innocent people caught in the cross fire has demonstrated just how rotten the euphemism "collateral damage" really is. As the body count rises and we try to make a judgement between right and wrong and competing narratives of victimhood we're confronted by the terrible calculation "how many innocent victims are acceptable? When does a military operation go from being a legitimate act of war or self-defence to being disproportionate, illegal and immoral? It's a fact that many more Palestinians have died than have Israelis in the current bombardment and that's been the case in previous conflicts too. Would it be more morally acceptable is more Israeli's were killed? How should we factor intent in to the equation? Israel says it's targeting military Hamas rockets and does it's best to avoid civilian casualties, while Hamas is deliberately targeting civilians in Israel and using civilians as human shields in Gaza; a moot point if you're in the firing line or your child has just been killed by a missile. Do more powerful states have a higher moral duty, even if those they're fighting for have no moral qualms when it comes to the fight? As the conflict in Gaza and the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner have demonstrated, civilians are now increasingly in the front line and the line

between combatant and civilian is often not clear, how does that change the rules of just warfare? Moral Maze - Presented by Michael Buerk. Panellists: Matthew Taylor, Melanie Phillips, Giles Fraser and Jill Kirby. Witnesses: Colonel Richard Kemp, Mehdi Hasan, Dr Hugo Slim and Ted Honderich.

Just War And Syria20151125

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, will make his case for bombing ISIL in Syria this week. Some commentators are predicting that, if parliament votes in favour, the raids could start as early as next week. This will mean our going into a coalition not only with France and America but also with Russia - a country that has been a long-standing ally of the Syrian leader President Assad, the man whom we wanted to bomb only two years ago. The adage "my enemy's enemy is my friend" dates back at least to the 4th century BC. It might be harsh to say that we're basing our foreign policy on an ancient proverb from a Sanskrit treatise on statecraft, but it's hard to avoid the parallels. Is it, though, a moral justification for going to war? On the Moral Maze this week we discuss what is meant by the phrase "just war" and the morality of pacifism. Has the pacifist case been heard enough? Chaired by Michael Buerk with Claire Fox, Giles Fraser, Michael Portillo and Melanie Phillips. Witnesses are Dr Alexander Moseley, Richard Norman, Helen Drewery and Richard Streatfield.

Migration20131016

Italy has this week stepped up sea and air patrols following the deaths of hundreds of migrants sailing in overcrowded boats from North Africa. On Friday at least 33 people died when their boat capsized between Malta and the Italian island of Lampedusa. The week before more than 350 migrants died in another shipwreck off Lampedusa. The Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says the Mediterranean is being turned in to a cemetery and has called on EU states to act over the boats. Thousands of desperate migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East wash up on the beaches of southern Europe - more than 30,000 landed in Italy this year alone. So what is our moral responsibility to economic migrants? There's a clear humanitarian duty to rescue drowning people, but once they're safe should they be put on the first boat back? If we don't is there a danger of moral hazard - just encouraging the people traffickers who are making a killing out of this trade in the desperate and destitute? To some it's a question of protecting our scarce jobs and resources - a utilitarian calculation that can cut both ways. Is it a matter of procedural justice? That rules and fairness matter and that these migrants are jumping the queue, in which case should we be blind to where they've come from originally? Or does that turn it in to a competing narrative of suffering where we have a higher moral duty to those who come from the worst conditions - a judgment for Solomon surely. Is a migrant fleeing war torn Somalia looking for a better life in the West in the same moral category as an economic migrant from Bulgaria? Should we morally punish one and not the other just because they had the misfortune to be born in one country and not the other? The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrines the human right of individuals to move across borders whether for economic, personal or professional reasons or to seek asylum and refuge. On the other hand, it also recognises fundamental rights of states to control over borders as well as determining who is to be a citizen as distinguished from a resident or an alien. The international system straddles these dual principles but it has not been able to reconcile them. Or are we hiding behind rules procedures to avoid our clear and simple humanitarian duty to our fellow man? And by the very fact of having survived such a terrible ordeal, the moral equation on the issue of boat people changes, extending our duty to those who are in the most desperate of situations.

Panellists: Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox, Anne McElvoy and Giles Fraser.

Witnesses:

DR NANDO SIGONA: Lecturer in the Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS) at the University of Birmingham, and one of the founding editors; Ed West: Author of "The Diversity Illusion: What We Got Wrong About Immigration & How to Set It Right". He is also the Deputy Editor of the Catholic Herald; DR PHILLIP COLE: Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of the West of England. He has written extensively on the ethics of migration, including "Philosophies of Exclusion: Liberal Political Theory; HARRIET SERGEANT: Research Fellow of the Centre for Policy Studies.

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Claire Fox, Anne McElvoy, Giles Fraser and Matthew Taylor.

Morality And The Bottom Line20131023

When a cleric talks about the moral responsibility of energy companies not to squeeze their customers to maximise their profits there's a temptation to dismiss it as hollow moralising. But when it's an archbishop who's also a former oil company executive and who's also taken on payday lenders to some acclaim then his thoughts are not so easily dismissed. But you do wonder if npower had read Justin Welby comments before they announced they were raising their prices by 10%. The Archbishop of Canterbury says energy companies must be "conscious of their social obligations" and should be obliged to "behave with generosity and not merely to maximise opportunity". Why? Of course it would be nice to have lower energy bills, but do businesses really have a moral obligation beyond the bottom line? We'd like individuals to behave philanthropically, but would we ever threaten them with legislation if they put their own interests, and the interest of their family first? Why should businesses and the free market be any different? Those campaigning for a reformed, more morally driven business environment talk of companies having a social licence to operate but If they act legally and pay their taxes isn't that enough? And does that concept hold any water when only two of the big six energy suppliers in the UK are British owned and we have to get funding from the French and Chinese. Is talk of corporate morality a category error? Individuals have moral agency, so is any attempt to embody that in to a business ethic at best a sloganizing and at worst a kind of "morality PR" aimed at increasing profits? Morality and the bottom line - the Moral Maze. Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. Panellists: Claire Fox, Melanie Phillips, Matthew Taylor and Sunder Katwala. Witnesses: Philip Booth, Editorial and Programme Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs; Loughlin Hickey, Archbishop Vincent Nichols's representative on a Unilever- backed project to promote ethical business; Peter Fleming, Professor of Business and Society, Cass Business School, London; John Drummond, Chairman of the consultancy firm "Corporate Culture".

Morality Of Gambling2013022720130302

Is it right that gambling is promoted so heavily in TV commercials, at sporting events and online? Complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority about TV gambling advertisements increased six-fold last year. Some commercials were taken off the air because they 'glamorised' gambling or because they portrayed it as a reasonable way of dealing with financial problems. Anti-gambling campaigners say that the vast increase in the promotion of gambling is creating more addicts and tempting poor people to risk money they can't afford. Should gambling advertising be banned? Or is that infantilising those who want to gamble and while at the same time stopping them getting information that could get them better odds? Is gambling a morally neutral form of entertainment or a vice that corrupt the winners, the losers and society as a whole?

Panellists: Eugene Farrar from GRASP (Gambling Reform & Society Perception Group), Clive Hawkswood from the Remote Gambling Association, Gareth Wallace from the Salvation Army and Mark Littlewood from the Institute of Economic Affairs.

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor, Anne McElvoy and Kenan Malik.

Nimbyism And Hs220130130

Politics, personality and principle20140730

Politics, Personality And Principle20140730

The general election is not until next May, but already the major parties have started their campaigns to win our vote. This weekend Ed Miliband admitted he looks a bit like Wallace of Wallace and Gromit fame and he isn't going to win any prizes in a bacon buttie eating beauty pageant. And Prime Minister David Cameron has had a cabinet reshuffle and it seems cleared out anyone who his pollsters tell him are unpopular with the electorate - even his long term friend and political ally Michael Gove was a victim. Good knock about stuff of course, but it this what politics has descended to? Have old fashioned virtues like policy and principle been sacrificed to focus groups, image and negative campaigning? Principles may make you feel pious, but they're not necessarily going to get you elected. As Stanley Baldwin said "I would rather be an opportunist and float than go to the bottom with my principles around my neck." Are we being too hard on pragmatism? When it comes to politics you could argue that pragmatism is not only democratic, but also moral. How far should politicians temper their policies and principles in order to win and retain power? Is negative campaigning wrong? Is exposing the weaknesses of the other side a moral responsibility and negative campaigning only works if it strikes a chord? Or is this campaigning unfair, corrosive and infantilising of the electorate. Moral Maze - Presented by Michael Buerk

Panellists: Matthew Taylor, Giles Fraser, Claire Fox and Jill Kirby.

Witnesses: Matthew Parris, Dan Hodges, Dr. Darren Lilleker and Lesley Abdela.

Prodcued by Phil Pegum.

Private Eduacation2013022020130223

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said last year that "the overwhelming dominance of privately-educated schoolchildren in Britain is corrosive for society." But, interviewed on radio recently, he said that he would not rule out a private school education for his own son. Is it every parent's duty to get their children the best possible education - even despite their political principles? Or is Nick Clegg just a hypocrite?

Last week Maria Hutchings, the Conservative candidate in the Eastleigh bye-election, said that it would be impossible for her gifted son to become a surgeon if he were to attend a state school. There were cries of outrage - not least from the medical profession. Some studies show that young people do indeed do better in life if they've been to public school. Is it immoral for parents to be able to buy a competitive advantage for their offspring? Should parents sacrifice their children's future on the altar of their principles, or is it the duty of a parent to get their children the best possible education, irrespective of their own opinions about what should be done to reform the system? Are we as a nation becoming increasingly hostile towards private education? Heads of independent schools say the government wants top universities to tip the balance in favour of admitting candidates from state schools, and that's not fair. These heads are also worried about the threat that their schools might lose their charitable status. Is that - as some have called it - just the politics of envy?

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips, Giles Fraser and Matthew Taylor. Witnesses: Francis Gilbert - Local Schools Network, Jan Murray - Guardian writer/contributor, Dr Martin Stephen - Former High Master at Manchester Grammar School and St Paul's School in London, and a former Chairman of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, Dreda Say Mitchell - author, broadcaster and educational consultant.

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips, Giles Fraser and Matthew Taylor.

Public Opinion20151028

Public Opinion20151028
Public Opinion20151028

When Professor Averil Macdonald, the chairwoman of UK Onshore Oil and Gas, said that women are opposed to fracking because they don't understand it, the reaction was predictable. She was accused of being sexist, patronizing, misogynistic. But in all the brouhaha what was missed was the difficult moral question at the heart of her argument. Professor Macdonald was citing research that shows only 31.5% of women are in favour of shale gas exploration compared to 58% of men. She argued that while women do accept the rational benefits of shale gas, they prefer to give more weight to their emotional fears about its possible impact. Setting aside the issue of gender, fear has been a powerful motivator in many campaigns such as GM crops, nuclear power, the MMR vaccine and numerous others. Combine that with an understandable streak of nibby-ism and you get an implacable and emotionally charged opposition to progress or developments that could benefit the majority of people in this country. It took eight years to apporve Heathrow's terminal 5; a third runway is being fought even harder and HS2 is yet to get beyond the stage of computer generated graphics. Do we rely too heavily on public opinion? Should we trust politicians more to make the correct decisions on our behalf? Or are we abdicating our powers and responsibilities to a new breed of scientific philosopher-king? Rather than a toxic blend of ignorance and self-interest are these kinds of protest the sign of a healthy and thriving democracy where the voice of the minority is not only heard, but also counts and a reminder that there are values that go beyond the bottom line? Chaired by Michael Buerk with Matthew Taylor, Giles Fraser, Michael Portillo and Anne McElvoy. Witnesses are Ross Clark, David Babbs, Peter Tatchell and Patrick Diamond.

Should Charity Begin At Home?20131113

The devastation left by the super-typhoon Haiyan is now becoming all too plain to see. Great swathes of the Philippines have simply been flattened in its path. The official death toll is now put at 10,000, but that's almost certain to rise. More than nine million people have been affected and many are now struggling to survive without food, shelter or clean drinking water. A massive international relief effort is now underway and the UK has pledged £6 million in aid and adverts from charities appealing for donations from the public have appeared in many national newspapers. In such an inter-connected world coverage of the disaster and the calls for aid and donations will quite rightly continue for some time, but in such a world, where we have so detailed knowledge of the desperate needs of people like those in the Philippines, is it still morally tenable to believe that charity should begin at home? Of course there are those who would argue that these things are not mutually exclusive, that one does not preclude the other and there is no moral hierarchy of need. But if that's the case why has the plight of Syrian refugees not ignited the same kind of response? So far the UN's £2.7bn appeal for Syrian refugees is only 50% funded as many people and government's manage to turn a blind eye to the suffering. Do we have to accept that it is just human nature to put your loved ones first? Or is giving to strangers more virtuous than giving to kith and kin?

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Michael Portillo, Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor, Giles Fraser. Witnesses: Dr Beth Breeze, Gareth Owen, Jonathan Foreman, Peter Singer.

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Michael Portillo, Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor, Giles Fraser.

Social Convention20160330

Would you ******* believe it? A council has ******* banned swearing in public. The council in question is Salford which has used a Public Space Protection Order to tackle anti-social behaviour in the Salford Quays area which includes Media City, home to the BBC, which might be just a coincidence. Part of the order says it will be deemed a criminal offence if anyone is caught 'using foul and abusive language'. Public Space Protection Orders, or PSPOs, are similar to ASBO's (anti-social behaviour orders), and allow for broad powers to criminalise behaviour that is not normally criminal. PSPOs are geographically defined, making predefined activities within a mapped area prosecutable. Since they came into existence in 2014 many councils have embraced their new powers enthusiastically, with various PSPO's making, or attempting to make, it a criminal offence to sleep rough, drive a loud car and walk a dog without a lead. It seems that control, or regulation, of public space is becoming more common. In the last month alone a council in Wales has banned smoking on a public beach, the London Underground is considering stopping people walking up escalators and a well known store asked a customer to leave because her toddler was having a tantrum. Are regulations to tackle public nuisance a commendable attempt to protect us or an oppressive enforcement of social conformity targeting public activities that are merely unusual or unpopular? This tension between individualism and the common good is an issue which bedevils so many aspects of contemporary society. If it is true that inconsiderate behaviour is increasing in our society, how should we deal with it? How do we balance our moral obligation to the rest of society with our desire to do what we **** well please? Chaired by Michael Buerk with Claire Fox, Michael Portillo, Giles Fraser and Anne McElvoy. Witnesses are Anna Minton, Alfie Moore, Danny Kruger and Terry Christian.

Social Convention20160330

Surrogacy20140806

She was paid £8850. The money would help repay the family's debts and to go towards the education her two children. Pattaramon Chanbua never even met the Australian couple who were paying her. It's known as "gestational surrogacy" where the host mother is implanted with an embryo. Effectively the Australian couple were paying to rent the Thai woman's womb. In this case Pattaramon gave birth to twins. One of them, who's been named Gammy had Down's syndrome. It's a terrible story that raises many uncomfortable moral and ethical dilemmas. This isn't just a simple contractual obligation. At the heart of this there's a child's life. Who bears the moral responsibility when things go wrong? And is that something that can be delegated to regulation? Infertility is a grief for many thousands of couples and the trade in international surrogacy also attracts same sex partners who desperately want children. But how do we - should we - weigh their pain against the exploitation of poor women and the commodification of that greatest of gifts - the gift of life? In such emotive cases it's perhaps too easy to rush to judgment. There's the argument that when done properly surrogacy can enrich people's lives, offering the childless a the chance to become parents and by putting money into the hands of surrogate women it gives them the chance to plan the future of their families in the way they see fit. If we ban it we take that opportunity out of their hands. If we regulate is that tacitly condoning a degrading a marketization of something that should not be commodified? And if we regulate womb renting, why not allow the poor to monetise other parts of their bodies? Their blood? Or perhaps a kidney? And is it the role of the state to regulate and control what people do with their bodies? Moral Maze - Presented by Michael Buerk.

Panellists: Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox, Anne McElvoy and Jill Kirby.

Witnesses: Richard Westoby, Julie Bindel, Nicola Scott and Dr. Helen Watt.

Produced by Peter Everett.

Teaching Moral Values20141029

Teaching your children a set of moral values to live their lives by is arguably one of the most important aspects of being a parent - and for some, one of the most neglected. In Japan that job could soon be handed to teachers and become part of the school curriculum. The Central Council for Education is making preparations to introduce moral education as an official school subject, on a par with traditional subjects like Japanese, mathematics and science. In a report the council says that since moral education plays an important role not only in helping children realise a better life for themselves but also in ensuring sustainable development of the Japanese state and society, so it should to taught more formally and the subject codified. The prospect of the state defining a set of approved values to be taught raises some obvious questions, but is it very far away from what we already accept? School websites often talk of their "moral ethos". The much quoted aphorism "give me the child until he is seven and I'll give you the man" is attributed to the Jesuits and why are church schools so popular if it's not for their faith based ethos? Moral philosophy is an enormously diverse subject, but why not use it to give children a broad set of tools and questions to ask, to help them make sense of a complex and contradictory world? If we try and make classrooms morally neutral zones are we just encouraging moral relativism? Our society is becoming increasingly secular and finding it hard to define a set of common values. As another disputed epigram puts it "When men stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing. They believe in anything." Could moral education fill the moral vacuum? Moral Maze - Presented by Michael Buerk

Panellists: Michael Portillo, Anne McElvoy, Claire Fox and Giles Fraser

Witnesses: Adrian Bishop, Dr. Sandra Cooke, Professor Jesse Prinz and Dr. Ralph Levinson

Produced by Phil Pegum.

The Moral Limits Of Advertising20141119

You know Christmas has arrived when there's a furious row about what's on the telly. This year it's about the Sainsbury's advert. It features a recreation of the 1914 Christmas day truce when the Germans and British abandoned their trenches to play football in No Man's land. The fact that it portrays an incredibly sanitised version of the First World War with not a spot of mud, or drop of blood in sight has certainly angered many. But even more questions are being asked about the last scene in the ad. In it the chiselled young Tommy gives his equally handsome German adversary a bar of chocolate and we're left with the message "Christmas is for sharing". The chocolate is of course being sold in Sainsbury stores until Christmas with the money raised going to the Royal British Legion. While many have found it moving it's also attracted a barrage of criticism for cashing in on the collective feeling of remembrance that has been so powerful in this centenary year of WW1. The contrast between this advert and the poppies at the Tower of London couldn't be more profound. Sainsbury say they've partnered with The Royal British Legion to ensure this story is told with authenticity and respect and they hope it will help keep alive the memory of the fallen. And the money raised will be going to a very good cause. But is it still crass and cynical? Are there really some things that money shouldn't buy? Are some things we hold so dear to ourselves, or our collective memories that to monetise them, through advertising or sponsorship, amounts to sacrilege? Or is that just our own moral squeamishness? Would we really be happier if we maintained our moral purity and the British Legion had less money? What are the moral boundaries when it comes to advertising and sponsorship? Presented by David Aaronovitch.

Panellists: Matthew Taylor, Michael Portillo, Claire Fox and Melanie Phillips.

Witnesses: Ally Fogg, Adrian Shaughnessy, Dave Trott and Jon Alexander.

Produced by Phil Pegum.

The Moral Value Of Sport2012080120120804

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

The Olympics - you can hardly miss them. They're said to have cost more than government cuts in the welfare budget and with the rows over security, Zil lanes, empty seats and the ruthless protection of the Olympic brand it's perhaps too easy to forget that the purpose of all this is the essentially trivial pursuit of sport. Have we come to demand so much from modern sport that we've forgotten its true purpose and value? As the cost of major sporting events like the Olympics has escalated we demand and expect more of them; to make us better, healthier people, to promote social inclusion, contribute to the economy and even peace among nations. That all may sound farfetched from the comfort our or sofas and our ever expanding waistlines, but it's worth recalling that morality is at the core of the spread of modern sport around the world. Pierre De Coubertin, founder of the Olympic Movement, was one of many who thought sport was morally improving - a way of shaping character, transmitting values and challenging anti-social behaviour. "Play up and play the game" feels a long way from the mores of the modern professional footballer, but even here, can we still see the faintly beating heart of the morality play that makes sport so compelling - with its themes of challenge, defeat and redemption? Or in the era of professional corporatized sport is that a hopelessly romantic notion that has fallen victim to the win at all cost Nietzschean Ubermensch? What exactly is the moral value of sport?

Witnesses:

Mihir Bose - Sports journalist and writer, author of 'The Spirit Of The Game', on the ethics and politics of sport

Matthew Syed - Former Olympic table tennis player, now sports and feature writer for The Times

Jenny Price - Chief Executive, Sport England

Sam Tomlin - Sports ThinkTank and go author of a report with Theos "Give Us our Ball Back"

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Claire Fox, Kenan Malik, Matthew Taylor and Melanie Phillips.

The Moral Worth Of Marriage20110216
The Moral Worth Of Marriage20110216

"Who should be allowed to marry?" It may sound a strange question, but that's exactly the issue raised by reports that the government is considering allowing gay "weddings" in churches and other places of worship. If that isn't contentious enough in recent weeks we've also had heterosexual couples demanding the right to have civil partnerships, plans to give co-habiting couples the same rights as those who are married and 24 hour Las Vegas style wedding chapels could be coming to a street near you soon. We've come a long way from the days of the Biblical understanding of the sacrament of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. But does it matter? Perhaps not if you see marriage as just another contractual arrangement like buying a car or a house. But historically we've viewed marriage as uniquely valuable to society - the building block on which families are made and children are raised - which is why it's the only sexual relationship in which the state is entitled to have a say in giving it special status and privileges. A relaxed and laissez faire attitude to marriage may reflect our current society, but what's it doing to our moral climate? When all the data suggests that married people and their children are happier and have better mental health shouldn't the state be actively encouraging marriage? Or is the problem the link between marriage and religion? Is it time we abandoned state sanctioned religious ceremonies in favour of a universal civil marriage?

Chaired by Michael Buerk with Melanie Phillips, Claire Fox, Kenan Malik and Clifford Longley.

Witnesses:

Michael Bartlet -Parliamentary liaison Secretary for the Quakers

Dan Boucher - Director of Parliamentary Affairs, CARE (Christian Action Research and Education)

Rachel Morris - Psychotherapist, agony aunt for Cosmopolitan magazine and author of The Single Parent's Handbook

George Pitcher - Anglican Priest at St Brides' Fleet Street, works for the ArchBishop of Canterbury's secretary for Public Affairs but speaking for himself.

The Morality Of Multiculturalism20110209
The Morality Of Multiculturalism20110209

If the government cutbacks hadn't already done so, the Prime Minister David Cameron looks as if he's finally closed the door on state-sponsored multiculturalism; as he defined it "where different cultures have been encouraged to lead different lives." The argument that we have been too tolerant of other lifestyles, cultures and values was an interesting one to make when the English Defence League took to the streets of Luton this weekend. I don't suppose the PM had them in mind when he called for a new "muscular liberalism" but the fact that the EDL claimed the speech reflected their concerns shows how difficult this subject has become in modern Britain.

Is the fight against racism and prejudice, which also celebrates multiculturalism and the hyper diversity of our country, also an essential element of the tolerance we like to take pride in? Or is multiculturalism part of the problem? Rather than tolerating difference it makes an issue of it at every point - institutionalising identity politics, creating cultural walls that stand in the way of integration. Without a collective identity and shared sense of values how can we hope to build a strong society that can withstand extremism? But who's values and should the state ever get involved in trying to shape and define the identity of specific communities?

Chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Kenan Malik, Claire Fox and Matthew Taylor.

Witnesses:

Professor Tariq Modood - Professor of Sociology, Politics and Public Policy and Director of the University Research Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship at the University of Bristol.

Douglas Murray - Author and Director of the Centre for Social Cohesion.

Father Phil Sumner - A priest who has worked for over 30 years bringing communities together in moss side and Oldham.

Tim Lott - Novelist and broadcaster, who has written about the lives of working class people.

The Morality Of Poverty2013031320130316

The incoming Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, has criticised the Government's plans to hold welfare payment increases below inflation.

Along with more than 40 bishops, he argues that we have "a duty to support those among us who are vulnerable and in need." Is that true? If it is, what does that duty demand?

Must we guarantee a minimum standard of living for all? Should it be an absolute priority to protect children from poverty? Should the government redistribute wealth from the richest to the poorest, even if that damages the collective prosperity of the nation?

Bishops in the House of Lords will attack the welfare plans when they are debated on Tuesday next week. The following day the Budget offers another chance to think about conflicting demands. We might consider whether, in times of austerity, we have a moral duty to spread the misery as fairly as possible. We might also look at what we mean by 'poverty'. Is the official EU definition - 'a household income below 60 per cent of median income' - a trustworthy guide to the point at which the state should offer its help? Or should we give hand-outs only to those who would starve without them?

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips, Matthew Taylor and Kenan Malik. Witnesses: Dr Stuart White - Director of the Public Policy Unit at Oxford University, The Right Rev'd Tim Stevens - Bishop of Leicester, Daniel Johnson - Editor, Standpoint magazine, Dr Sheila Lawlor - Director of the think-tank Politeia.

The Ring Of Gyges20130306

Scientists at a technology conference in Los Angeles this week unveiled an invention that makes things invisible. The press described it as a real-life version of Harry Potter's 'cloak of invisibility'. They could equally well have called it a real-life 'ring of Gyges'. This magic ring which made its wearer invisible was given in ancient Greek mythology to the shepherd Gyges - who promptly used it to seduce the king's wife and take over the kingdom. Plato used the story in his great work 'The Republic' to ask the question: would an intelligent person be just and moral if he were not compelled to be so? It's a question that we're still struggling to answer and that is at the heart of many stories dominating our news at the moment.

The NHS is torn between trusting its staff to look after patients properly and policing their work through targets, supervision and sanctions. The controversial banker Bob Diamond defined ethics as 'what you do when nobody's looking'; a sequence of scandals from PPI to LIBOR would suggest to some that banking and ethics are words that don't belong in the same sentence. The resignation of the disgraced Keith O'Brien prompts us to ask whether, if even a Cardinal cannot be trusted to practice what he preaches, there is any point in trusting anyone to do the right thing without being watched and warned. Is it true that there can be no virtue without the freedom to sin? And if that is the case how much of that freedom can society afford to grant? Are humans naturally good or do we need to be pressured into behaving decently? Should we trust to conscience and guilt, or rely on regulation and the threat that those who step out of line will be named and shamed?

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Kenan Malik, Melanie Phillips and Claire Fox. Witnesses: John Appleby - Chief economist, Health policy, The King's Fund, Dr Martin O'Neill - Lecturer in Political Philosophy at York University, John Seddon - Managing Director, Vanguard, Rev. Prof. Alister McGrath - Professor of Theology, Ministry and Education at King's College London.

The Work Ethic20151014
The Work Ethic20151014
The Work Ethic20151014
The Work Ethic20151014
The Work Ethic20151014
The Work Ethic20151014
The Work Ethic20151014

The Work Ethic20151014
The Work Ethic20151014

The Moral Maze returns this week to apply its nose to the grindstone and naturally the prospect of work is exercising our collective mind. Ringing, perhaps guiltily in our ears, are the words last week of the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Defending the changes to tax credits he said "We want this to be one of the most successful countries in the world in 20, 30, 40 years' time. There's a pretty difficult question that we have to answer, which is essentially: are we going to be a country which is prepared to work hard in the way that Asian economies are prepared to work hard, in the way that Americans are prepared to work hard? And that is about creating a culture where work is at the heart of our success." According to one business expert he may have a point. Rohit Talwar, the chief executive of Fast Future, has said teachers should be preparing schoolchildren for a future that could see them having to work in 40 different jobs until they reach 100. For many this debate isn't just about increasing life expectancy and the cost of state pensions. It's about what kind of contribution society has the right to ask of its citizens and whether the common good demands that we try to meet it. Is work not just financially rewarding, but morally improving? Is self-reliance a virtue that is undervalued in Britain? Or are they both a moral smokescreen for a soulless, utilitarian attitude that sees us all as units of economic production and only values us while we continue to contribute? Isn't the true test of good work not whether it's 'hard' but whether it's fulfilling and productive? Whether we enjoy it? The Moral Maze chaired as ever by Michael Buerk. Michael is a man known for his love of hard work. He says he can watch it for hours.

Tolerating Authoritarian Regimes20110202
Tolerating Authoritarian Regimes20110202

Is it morally justifiable to tolerate or support unpleasant, authoritarian, undemocratic regimes because we feel the likely alternatives might prove worse for the citizens countries such as Egypt. With hundreds of thousands of protestors on the streets of Egyptian cities and calls for a general strike, President Mubarak's stranglehold on power looks to be weakening. The authoritarian leaders of a number of other countries in the region will be looking on nervously - as will leaders in the West who've ploughed billions of dollars in to keeping President Mubarak in power and the region stable. It's not just a question of better the devil you know - Mubarak has been a key ally in the Arab Israeli peace process.

Is democracy a morally unambiguous value? Should we always be on the sides of the masses regardless of the consequences to them and our national interests? Or is preserving life a greater moral imperative than promoting freedom - even if that means in the short term backing the stability of authoritarian rulers? Is democracy only ever the means to an end and should the only moral imperative for us in the West be to always safeguard our interests?

Witnesses:

Professor David Cesarani , Research Chair in History, Royal Holloway, University of London

Daniel Johnson, Editor of Standpoint

Dr Omar Ashour, Director, Middle East Studies, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter

Dr Emile Nakhleh, a former director of the CIA political Islam strategic analysis programme

Chaired by Michael Buerk with Claire Fox, Melanie Phillips, Michael Portillo and Matthew Taylor.

Victim Culture20150617

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Claire Fox, Melanie Phillips, Jill Kirby and Sunder Katwala.

Who Owns Culture?20160224

It may not have the same impact as the Elgin Marbles, but a slightly battered bronze statue of a cockerel has re-ignited a row that has potentially profound implications for our museums and opens a Pandora's Box of moral dilemmas. The statue in question sits in the dining hall of Jesus College Cambridge, but it was originally from the Benin Empire, now part of modern-day Nigeria. It was one of hundreds of artworks taken in a punitive British naval expedition in 1897 that brought the empire to an end. In the same way that Greece has pursued the return of the Elgin marbles, Nigeria has repeatedly called for all the Benin bronzes - which it says are part of its cultural heritage - to be repatriated. The students at Jesus agree with them and are demanding the cockerel be returned. But to whom? There are dozens of high profile campaigns around the world to repatriate cultural artefacts, but the legal issue of rightful ownership is complex and made more so by the value of the objects in question. Does the fact that many of the finest treasures in our museums were acquired during the height of our imperial history mean we're duty bound to return them? If we accept the principle that art looted by the Nazi's should be returned, why not, for example, the Benin Bronzes? Artefacts like the Elgin Marbles are important because they are part of the story or humanity itself. Can any one country claim ownership over that? Would artefacts that have been returned to their original setting take on a new and more authentic cultural meaning that we in the West may not be able to understand, but which is nonetheless important to those who claim ownership? Should repatriation be part of a wider cultural enterprise to re-write our national and imperialistic historical narrative? Chaired by Michael Buerk with Giles Fraser, Claire Fox, Melanie Phillips and Michael Portillo. Witnesses are Dr Tiffany Jenkins, Prof Constantine Sandis, Mark Hudson and Andrew Dismore.