126 episodes

Combative, provocative and engaging live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. #moralmaze

Moral Maze BBC

    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 5.0 • 1 Rating

Combative, provocative and engaging live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. #moralmaze

    The Moral Authority of Organised Religion

    The Moral Authority of Organised Religion

    A damning report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse describes a culture of deference in the Church of England which meant that perpetrators were allowed to hide and, when exposed, were often given more support than their victims. This was a scandal in which the “moral authority of clergy was widely perceived as beyond reproach”. This pattern of behaviour and cover-up is shocking but depressingly familiar. Following decades of such revelations, there is a growing belief that Britain’s churches have lost all moral credibility as a result of their repeated inability to practice what they preach and get their house in order. Others point out that, while reparations are needed, all institutions – whether religious or secular – are made up of human beings who are capable of terrible crimes, and that the good done by organised religion in tackling poverty, comforting the bereaved and showing strong leadership on some of the key moral issues of the day, should not be overlooked. Whether or not such institutions still command moral authority, formal religious affiliation is nevertheless in decline. Is this to be welcomed or lamented? For many people, rules-based religion has had its day. They see the churches as being out of step on many progressive issues like gender equality and same-sex marriage; they look elsewhere for sources of morality, or they see morality, faith and spirituality as subjective and personal. Others, meanwhile, still see religious institutions as the bedrock of a cohesive society; an inherited, shared source or moral and spiritual guidance, spanning centuries. They caution against the jettisoning of absolute moral rules and view the belief that we all have our own ‘truths’ and ways of knowing as deeply unhealthy. With Dr Ed Condon, Rt Rev Philip North, Prof Francesca Stavrokopoulou and Rev Stephen Trott.

    Producer: Dan Tierney.

    • 42 min
    Lived Experience

    Lived Experience

    Donald Trump claims to have a better understanding of coronavirus following his own diagnosis and treatment. In a video message he said, "I learned it by really going to school. This is the real school. This isn't the let's read the books school. I get it and I understand it.” There are those who believe that directly experiencing a social issue makes for better, more empathic, political decision-making. Critics of the President’s handling of the crisis, however, would argue that it should not have taken a threat to his own health for him to “get it”, and that empathy is something you’ve either got or you haven’t. This has wider implications; “lived experience” is a central tenet of social justice. It has become an established part of the way we interact, debate and reason in the public square. Is there something irreplaceable about experiencing what others merely intellectualise about? Should lived experience play a greater role in policy-making? It is often argued that someone’s opinion lacks legitimacy if they have not been directly affected by the issue at hand – whether poverty, racism or disability – and that it is often through emotional human stories that these issues can be truly tackled. Others believe that while subjective experience can illuminate a problem, it can also cloud moral judgment and should not be presented at the expense of objective evidence. Moreover, the idea that only certain people are allowed to opine about particular subjects, some say, is potentially divisive and dangerous. To what extent should the lived experience of a person give them moral authority? With Alan Johnson, Prof. Jonathan Portes, Ash Sarkar and Prof. Sharon Wright.

    Producer: Dan Tierney.

    • 42 min
    Moral Lessons for a Post-Covid World

    Moral Lessons for a Post-Covid World

    The past five months have turned our lives upside down. In the early days of the lockdown, idealists saw the pandemic as an opportunity for moral improvement; they thought it would reinforce our shared values and confirm our common humanity. As it has turned out, Covid-19 has not been the great leveller they were hoping for. You could argue that, on the contrary, it has taken our social inequalities and made them worse, adding a greater danger of death to the burden already borne by the most disadvantaged. It has escalated the culture wars and eroded our collective trust in authority and in each other. Optimists still see opportunities for a better world, as long as we draw the right lessons from this unsettling experience. It may have things to teach us about the right balance between social responsibility and individual freedom, between amateurism and expertise, between community rootedness and global collaboration, or between the nation’s wellbeing and the health of its economy. In this 30th birthday edition of the Moral Maze, each of our four panellists will propose one moral principle, relevant to the crisis, that they believe would serve us well in a post-Covid world. With Lord Andrew Adonis, Professor Linda Bauld, Ross Clark and Geoff Norcott.

    Producer: Dan Tierney.

    • 43 min
    The Death of the City?

    The Death of the City?

    Our normally bustling cities have been eerily quiet for months. It’s reminiscent of the post-apocalyptic horror film, ‘28 Days Later’. The lockdown is proving costly; Westminster Abbey has lost more than £12 million in revenue this year and is set to lay off one in five of its staff. Theatre bosses say they must reopen without social distancing in time for Christmas or face oblivion. Restrictions are beginning to ease but for many cafes, pubs, shops, clubs and restaurants, the pandemic could be terminal. Museums, galleries, churches and office developments will struggle to justify their continued existence; should they be bailed out by the taxpayer? Perhaps each of us has a moral duty to head uptown on a shopping spree, take in a show and dine out? Yet this is about more than jobs and tourism; it raises bigger questions about the value we put on cities. If a ghost town is sad, a dead city is surely a tragedy. Since ancient Athens, cities, for many, have been the cultural jewels in civilisation’s crown, creative cauldrons of multicultural mingling and springboards to success. Others cite London, for example, as a social, cultural and economic drain on the life of our country. They believe that declining big cities give us an opportunity to revive towns, to end the suburban commuter crawl, beef up provincial culture, restore lost industries, embrace home-working and cut carbon emissions. Are big cities an unquestionable moral good, worth preserving in their current state? Or, in the new post-Covid world, is there a better way of organising the way we live? With Richard Burge, Paul Chatterton, Tom Cheesewright and Dr Jonathan Rowson.

    Producer: Dan Tierney.

    • 43 min
    The Morality of the British Empire

    The Morality of the British Empire

    Campaigners are calling for an 'empire-neutral' public honour to reward front-line coronavirus workers in the Queen’s birthday honours list this autumn. It’s thought that some nominees will refuse to accept the traditional Order of the British Empire (OBE). The Black Lives Matter protests have sharpened the debate about our colonial past. Oxford professor Nigel Biggar has suggested that academics now put their careers at risk if they say anything positive about the British Empire. It’s an important moment for education, but the issue has become toxic. There’s general agreement that most British citizens have for too long been ignorant of the dark and shameful parts of their history. But was the Empire, as many passionately contest, predominantly a system of racism, slavery and exploitation? Other historians - while not disputing the violence and cruelty that disfigured the imperial project - point to the advances in health, education, the rule of law and economic prosperity that it brought to many parts of the world. How should we weigh up the transgressions and the triumphs of the past? Is it helpful to mark the Empire on a moral balance sheet with ‘shame’ and ‘pride’ columns? Does the obsession with viewing Britain’s history as either glorious or heinous stoke present-day hostility between identity groups? Or, since many British citizens are children of empire and their ancestry is woven into our collective tapestry, should we all focus instead on learning more about our shared past, warts and all? With Professor Nigel Biggar, Dr Nadine El-Enany, Janan Ganesh and Professor Alan Lester.

    Producer: Dan Tierney.

    • 43 min
    How and why we educate

    How and why we educate

    Universities are counting the cost of COVID-19. They’ve lost revenue from international students, they’re struggling for investment and some of them are finding it hard to meet their pension commitments. As many as 13 of them may no longer be financially viable, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The question of whether or not cash-strapped universities should be bailed out is moral as well as financial. It summons conflicting arguments about the social value of these institutions and the role they have in wider education. In the 1970s and 1980s between 8% and 19% of school-leavers went on to higher education; today it’s 50%. Should we be proud that at least half our young adults are engaged in self-directed learning? Some say yes, it’s a moral achievement and well worth holding on to. Others observe that whereas we may now have more graduates than ever, never before have their qualifications been worth so little. How we view universities has implications for schools, where hitting grade targets is the de facto measure of success. The pandemic has exposed the weakness of this approach, according to its critics, because it relies too heavily on testing as an end in itself. While some decry the lockdown as a disaster for a ‘lost generation’ of young people, others see it as a once-in-a generation opportunity to re-think not just how we’re educating our children but what education should be aiming to achieve. With Nick Hillman, Sir Anthony Seldon, Niamh Sweeney and Tim Worstall.

    Producer: Dan Tierney.

    • 42 min

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