223 episodes

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

Moral Maze BBC Radio 4

    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 4.8 • 18 Ratings

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

    How can we reduce the temperature of politics?

    How can we reduce the temperature of politics?

    The attempted assassination of former US president Donald Trump was a dark day for American politics. We don’t know whether the gunman was induced to kill - as some commentators have suggested - by the current political climate. Nevertheless, it appears that the line between passionate criticism and incitement to violence is becoming increasingly blurred. Words matter, but calls to curb speech beyond current laws are immediately met with opposition by those who see freedom of speech as essential to democracy.
    And yet, the abuse and intimidation of politicians also threatens democracy. In the UK the government’s adviser on political violence, Lord Walney, has written to the Home Secretary saying there has been a "concerted campaign by extremists to create a hostile atmosphere for MPs within their constituencies to compel them to cave into political demands".
    All parties seek to control the narrative through forceful language, hyperbolic rhetoric, and attacks on opponents, but when do words become dangerous? Politics is tribal, but when does tribalism become toxic?
    If democracy is a system in which citizens – and tribes – can disagree without resorting to violence, what can be done to strengthen democracy? Is it possible to turn down the political heat without losing the passion?
    PANEL:
    Mona Siddiqui
    Matthew Taylor
    Sonia Sodha
    Inaya Folarin Iman.
    WITNESSES:
    Hannah Phillips - from the Jo Cox Foundation
    John McTernan - Political Secretary to UK PM Tony Blair, and Director of Communications for Australian PM Julia Gillard
    Brian Klass - Associate Professor in Global Politics at University College London
    Nicholas Gruen - policy economist and visiting professor at King's College London's Policy Institute
    Producer: Dan Tierney
    Assistant Producer: Ruth Purser

    • 56 min
    The Morality of Stepping Down

    The Morality of Stepping Down

    The idea of when to step down is front and centre in American politics as 81 year old Joe Biden continues in the Presidential race despite concerns about his mental agility. His performance in a recent TV debate has sown doubt among supporters with polls suggesting some are losing faith in his abilities. ‘Pass the torch Joe’ said one placard as he declared his intention to keep going.
    Are the elderly blcoking the young if they cling on to powerful and influence ? Does it skew society even more in favour of older people who seem to have had it better when it comes to pensions, homeownership and the opportunity to save money? Gerontologists say that society is ageist, that most people are not like Biden and will hit barriers to staying in work once they get older. That these barriers have to be cleared because as the population gets older we all need to stay in the workforce for longer.
    Wisdom is said to come with age but if you have a fulfilling job, how do you check that you are still capable of continuing? Will those around you tell you the truth ? Is it pride that keeps elderly people in powerful positions, a sense that they are irreplacable, an unwillingness to give up something that defines them and take on another role. What's the morality of stepping down?
    Witnesses:
    Dorothy Byrne, President of Murray Edwards College
    Mary-Kate Cary, Professor of Politics at the Univeristy of Virginia
    David Sinclair, Chief Executive of the International Longevity Centre
    Dr Erica Benner, Political Philosopher and Historian
    Panel:
    Inaya Folarin-Iman, Mona Siddiqui, Matthew Taylor,Ella Whelan
    Presenter: Michael Buerk
    Producer: Catherine Murray
    Assistant Producer: Ruth Purser
    Production Co-ordinator: Nancy Bennie
    Editor: Tim Pemberton

    • 56 min
    What is history for?

    What is history for?

    Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf? Well, Camden Council for a start, who’ve put a QR code on her statue in Bloomsbury explaining that some of views and actions of the prototype feminist, widely regarded as one of the leading modernist writers of the 20th century, are now considered “offensive” and “unacceptable”.
    Funny how we look back for drama and moral clarity, not just judging the past by the prejudices of the present, but affecting to see in its messiness either inevitable progress, or relentless decline. More and more, it seems, history is a weapon with which to fight today’s battles.
    What should history teach us?
    Witnesses:
    Professor Ada Palmer
    Professor Kehinde Andrews
    Dr Amanda Foreman
    Professor Robert Tombs
    Panellists:
    Anne McElvoy
    Ash Sarkar
    Tim Stanley
    Matthew Taylor
    Presenter: Michael Buerk
    Producers: Catherine Murray & Peter Everett
    Assistant Producer: Ruth Purser
    Editor: Tim Pemberton

    • 56 min
    Price vs Value of Arts and Culture

    Price vs Value of Arts and Culture

    Taylor Swift fever has swept the UK week. She’s back in August and fans have been paying hundreds sometimes thousands to get their hands on seats through resale sites. It’s led us to think about the price and value of art and culture. St Thomas Aquinas came up with the ‘just price’ theory, that it is wrong to sell something for more than it is worth and charging more based on the need of the buyer is exploitative and sinful. Is that what is going on when punters are asked to stump up for a once in a lifetime experience?
    In Latin the word pretium means both value and price, but the two are not interchangeable when it comes to the arts. How can you put a price on a potentially transcendent experience, or the life changing power of art? Is that what makes good art and is that what is worth paying for? Do live events culture have a value in itself aside from the economic impact? What does it mean for society when people are priced out? Should governments pick up the bill to make sure everyone has access to the arts. Or are they just an indulgence, a nice way to spend your leisure time but not something deserving of funds in comparison to global problems like poverty or malaria.
    Presenter: Michael Buerk
    Panel:
    Inaya Folarin-Iman
    James Orr
    Professor Mona Siddiqui
    Matthew Taylor
    Witnesses:
    Christopher Snowdon, Head of Lifestyle Economics at the IEA
    Professor Mel Jordan, Professor of Art and the Public Sphere, Coventry University
    Matt Reardon, Advisor at 80,000 Hours
    Professor Paul Gough, Vice Chancellor of the Arts University Bournemouth
    Presenter: Michael Buerk
    Producer: Catherine Murray
    Assistant Producer: Ruth Purser
    Programme Co-ordinator Nancy Bennie & Pete Liggins
    Editor: Tim Pemberton

    • 56 min
    Do we need a final farewell?

    Do we need a final farewell?

    The way we grieve is changing and that is seen most starkly by the rise of the direct cremation and the no fuss funeral. I in 5 people of people opted for a direct cremation last year, a startling figure that’s risen 3 fold in 5 years. At it’s most basic the direct cremation means the final journey is purely functional. Body taken unaccompanied to an unknown crematorium. You can even get the ashes posted back through the letterbox. It's cheaper and you can mark the last hurrah with a party or memorial service or perhaps even nothing at all. What does this changing trend say about our respect for human dignity as a society or is this just another step
    in the removal of religion from the lives of a significant part of the population.
    Only a quarter of people in the UK now want a religious funeral. The rise of direct cremation could also be a sign that mourners are throwing off the shackles of inherited tradition and religious belief to decide how they want to grieve. Direct cremations and DIY celebrations cut out the reality of death and if there’s no grieving at the graveside or standing in a crematorium what do we lose? There's another aspect to consider. The digital afterlife is one where someone never leaves. Grieftech can keep us in touch with AI loved ones . Instead of the finality of a funeral we could be conversing forever with the deceased. Do we need a final farewell?
    Presenter: William Crawley
    Panellists: Anne McElvoy, James Orr, Matthew Taylor, Ella Whelan
    Witnesses: Rosie Millard, Dr Madeleine Pennington, Justin Harrison, Prof Linda Wheeler.
    Producer: Catherine Murray & Peter Everett
    Assistant Producer: Ruth Purser
    Editor: Rajeev Gupta

    • 56 min
    Democracy - is our system morally superior?

    Democracy - is our system morally superior?

    It will soon be time to vote in the General Election. A moment for us all to play our part in democracy. The theory is that politicians do their best to get elected, and then do all the right things so they are re-elected next time round. But in practice it can be difficult for governments to do what really needs to be done and still stay in power. A good example is climate change: There is a broad consensus that very urgent action is needed, and yet as the election nears, there's little from the major parties promising radical, decisive action, because they fear that voters don't really want it.
    If liberal democracy can’t solve our problems, can it at least unite us around the principle that everyone’s point of view is worth hearing?  Well no, not any more.  For every listener to good old Radio 4 there are many more who get their news from social media and their opinions from their silo of friends.  Is it too cynical to suggest that voters are short-sighted, selfish and stubbornly wrong-headed?  And what about the quality of our leaders? Does anyone think our political system is serving up the nation's finest?
    Some say our democracy isn’t democratic enough.  They fear excessive influence by lawyers, quangos, peers, and press barons.  Others applaud activists for challenging the worst excesses of a corrupt Commons. Three cheers, they say, for the unelected European Court of Human Rights and the judges who go easy on civil disobedience while thwarting the Home Office over asylum policy.
    Do we still believe that our democracy is morally the least-worst system, when it seems incapable of producing long-term solutions to the most urgent problems?  Can we learn anything at all from authoritarian states that seem better at simply getting things done? In this special edition of the Moral Maze, recorded at the Hay Festival, we ask - what is the moral basis for claiming that our version of democracy is superior?  
    Presenter: Michael Buerk
    Producers: Jonathan Hallewell, Peter Everett and Ruth Purser
    Editor: Tim Pemberton

    • 57 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
18 Ratings

18 Ratings

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