16 episodes

Harvard political philosopher Michael Sandel examines the thinking behind a current controversy.

The Public Philosopher BBC

    • Government
    • 4.8, 35 Ratings

Harvard political philosopher Michael Sandel examines the thinking behind a current controversy.

    Will AI make thinking obsolete?

    Will AI make thinking obsolete?

    Would you choose an algorithm rather than a human to mark your exam papers? Would you welcome a translation app that replaced foreign language learning? Would you trust a marriage prediction app to choose your life partner? Professor Michael Sandel of Harvard University - Radio 4's 'Public Philosopher' - puts these and other questions to an audience of students at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He generates a debate on the relationship between artificial intelligence and human decision-making, asking how far faith in technology depends on a mistrust of human subjectivity.

    Producer: Sheila Cook

    • 41 min
    Public Philosopher - Citizens of Nowhere?

    Public Philosopher - Citizens of Nowhere?

    Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel comes to St Paul's Cathedral to take on some of the hardest questions raised by the public discontent that characterises much of global politics today. With the help of a live audience, he asks whether globalisation and deepening inequality have eroded the bonds that hold communities together. He enquires if the continuing debate over Brexit reveals competing notions of political identity. Should we aspire to be citizens of the world, or is a citizen of the world a citizen of nowhere? He wonders if patriotism is a sentiment we should encourage or a prejudice we should overcome and whether, in diverse societies such as ours, a politics of the common good is even possible. Michael and his audience engage in a searching discussion of the contending visions of moral and civic identity that lie just beneath the surface of our fiercest public debates.

    Producer: Tim Mansel

    • 41 min
    Global Philosopher: Should there be any limits to free speech?

    Global Philosopher: Should there be any limits to free speech?

    Sixty people from around the world join Professor Michael Sandel in a digital studio at Harvard to discuss free speech. Free speech is a cornerstone of democracy and freedom of expression is regarded as a fundamental human right. But even in democracies there are disputes about the limits to free speech. And most countries have laws restricting free speech, such as libel laws, or laws controlling forms of pornography. But should limits be placed on free speech? Should people be allowed to say and write whatever they like, even if it is untrue and is deeply offensive to vulnerable individuals or groups? Professor Sandel unpicks the philosophy of free speech.



    Audience producer: Louise Coletta

    Producer: David Edmonds

    Executive Producer: Emma Rippon

    • 41 min
    Would life be better if robots did all the work?

    Would life be better if robots did all the work?

    Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel asks if life would be better if robots did all the work. Professor Sandel skilfully and entertainingly uses live audiences to help address important ethical and philosophical questions. He has travelled across the world and brought together global audiences for his method of Socratic dialogue.

    Michael gathers an audience in a secondary school in Dagenham, East London, to address one of the most pressing issues of our times - the future of work in a world where automation threatens to replace more and more workers with robots. A much-cited Oxford University report predicts that 35% of jobs in the UK are at risk.

    There is nowhere better to examine this issue than Dagenham, where once 40,000 people built cars at the famous Ford factory. The plant stopped making cars in 2002 and now makes vast numbers of car engines, but with fewer than 3,000 employees. Barking and Dagenham is judged by the Legatum Institute as the least prosperous borough in London and among the 10 least prosperous in the UK. The unemployment rate is one of the highest in London. As automation moves from the factory floor to the office, Michael Sandel and his audience will try to understand how we regard the ethics surrounding this profound shift.

    Producer: Tim Mansel.

    • 41 min
    The Global Philosopher: Should the Rich World Pay for Climate Change?

    The Global Philosopher: Should the Rich World Pay for Climate Change?

    Sixty people from thirty countries join Michael Sandel in a digital studio at Harvard to discuss the philosophical issues underlying the world's response to climate change.



    The developed world has caused climate change, belting out greenhouse gases as it became rich (at least, most people think so). But the developing world – huge and growing economies like India and China – is increasingly a big part of the problem.



    So who should pay to fix the mess? Is it fair to penalise the developing world as it strives to catch up? Is it acceptable that rich countries be allowed to buy credits, giving them permission to pollute? And is it time to re-think our material aspirations?



    Audience producer: Louise Coletta

    Producer: David Edmonds

    Executive Producer: Richard Knight

    • 41 min
    The Global Philosopher: Should Borders Matter?

    The Global Philosopher: Should Borders Matter?

    Michael Sandel explores the philosophical justifications made for national borders. Using a pioneering state-of-the-art studio at the Harvard Business School, Professor Sandel is joined by 60 participants from over 30 countries in a truly global digital space.



    Is there any moral distinction between a political refugee and an economic migrant? If people have the right to exit a country, why not a right to enter? Do nations have the right to protect the affluence of their citizens? And is there such a thing as a 'national identity'?



    These are just some of the questions addressed by Professor Sandel in this first edition of The Global Philosopher.



    Audience producer: Louise Coletta

    Producer: David Edmonds

    Editor: Richard Knight



    (Image taken by Rose Lincoln)

    • 41 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
35 Ratings

35 Ratings

bagelzRgreat ,

Philosophy today

Mr. Sandel's podcast is a wonderful exploration of modern day societal moral dilemmas. He examines old principles of justice and moral desert through a contemporary perspective. I never took interest in philosophy until I watched his Harvard lectures online, but I am glad I did. Mr. Sandel has helped me to form my own ideas of moral desert and justice, and has led me down a path of philosophical interest I never knew I had. A must listen for anyone interested in politics, civics, ethics, or really anything else for that matter!

Dave McMurray ,

Must listen!

Broad thoughtful discussion of our basic assumptions done with respect. This format of idea exchange will transform humanity for the best we are capable.

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