Episodes

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20050216Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Clifford Longley, Melanie Phillips, Rosie Boycott and Steven Rose cross-examine witnesses.
2007013120070203 (R4)Michael Buerk chairs the moral debate.

Live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. #moralmaze

2007020720070210 (R4)Ian Hargreaves, Steven Rose, Claire Fox and Clifford Longley cross-examine witnesses.

Live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. #moralmaze

2007022120070224 (R4)Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news.

Live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. #moralmaze

2007022820070303 (R4)Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news.

Live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. #moralmaze

20070307Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news.

Live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. #moralmaze

2007062020070623 (R4)Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news.

Live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. #moralmaze

2007062720070630 (R4)Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news.

Live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. #moralmaze

2007070420070707 (R4)Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news.

Live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. #moralmaze

2007071120070714 (R4)Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news.

Live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. #moralmaze

2007071820070721 (R4)Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news.

Live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. #moralmaze

2007072520070728 (R4)Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news.

Live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. #moralmaze

2008011620080119 (R4)Melanie Phillips, Ian Hargreaves, Claire Fox and Clifford Longley cross-examine witnesses.

Live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. #moralmaze

2008012320080126 (R4)Ian Hargreaves, Claire Fox, Michael Portillo and Clifford Longley cross-examine witnesses.

Live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. #moralmaze

2008013020080202 (R4)Melanie Phillips, Ian Hargreaves, Michael Portillo and Clifford Longley question witnesses

Live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. #moralmaze

2008020620080209 (R4)Four guests question witnesses.

Live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. #moralmaze

2008021320080216 (R4)Four guests question witnesses.

Live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. #moralmaze

20080220Claire Fox, Clifford Longley, Michael Portillo and Sarah Dunant question witnesses.

Live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. #moralmaze

20081126 With Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik, Michael Portillo and Melanie Phillips.
20081203 With Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik, Michael Portillo and Claire Fox.

Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik, Michael Portillo and Claire Fox cross-examine witnesses.

20081217Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik, Michael Portillo and Claire Fox cross-examine witnesses.
20090211Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Kenan Malik, Claire Fox, Michael Portillo and Melanie Phillips cross-examine witnesses.

With Kenan Malik, Claire Fox, Michael Portillo and Melanie Phillips.

20090218Michael Buerk celebrates the 500th edition of the programme with a debate held at the Royal Society of Medicine in London. Melanie Philips, Michael Portillo, Claire Fox and Clifford Longley cross-examine witnesses.

With Melanie Philips, Michael Portillo, Claire Fox and Clifford Longley.

20090225Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. With Clifford Longley, Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor and Melanie Phillips.

With Clifford Longley, Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor and Melanie Phillips.

20090304Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. With Michael Portillo, Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor and Clifford Longley.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Michael Portillo, Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor, Clifford Longley.

20090603Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. With Claire Fox, Melanie Philips, Clifford Longley and Kenan Malik.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Claire Fox, Melanie Philips, Clifford Longley and Kenan Malik.

20090610
20090617Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. With Claire Fox, Melanie Philips, Clifford Longley and Michael Portillo.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Claire Fox, Melanie Philips, Clifford Longley, Michael Portillo

20090624Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. With Claire Fox, Melanie Philips, Clifford Longley and Matthew Taylor.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Claire Fox, Melanie Philips, Clifford Longley, Matthew Taylor.

20090701
20090708Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Claire Fox, Michael Portillo, Clifford Longley and Kenan Malik cross-examine witnesses.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Claire Fox, Michael Portillo, Clifford Longley and Kenan Malik.

20090715Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips, Claire Fox and Matthew Taylor cross-examine witnesses.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips, Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor.

20090722Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips, Clifford Longley and Matthew Taylor cross-examine witnesses.

With Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips, Clifford Longley and Matthew Taylor.

20091014
20091021Michael Buerk and the team travel to Derby University for an edition of the programme recorded on campus.

With higher education more popular than ever, there is no better time to ask what a degree is worth and what our universities are for. With a new emphasis on vocational studies and employability, have we sacrificed the idea of scholarship for its own sake?

Michael Buerk is joined by panel members Melanie Philips, Michael Portillo, Claire Fox and Matthew Taylor.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Melanie Philips, Michael Portillo, Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor.

20091028Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Claire Fox, Melanie Phillips, Michael Portillo and Matthew Taylor cross-examine witnesses.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Claire Fox, Melanie Phillips, Michael Portillo, Matthew Taylor.

20091104Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Kenan Malik, Melanie Phillips, James Panton and Clifford Longley cross-examine witnesses.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Kenan Malik, Melanie Phillips, James Panton, Clifford Longley.

20091111Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Claire Fox, Kenan Malik, Melanie Phillips and Clifford Longley cross-examine witnesses.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Claire Fox, Kenan Malik, Melanie Phillips and Clifford Longley.

20091118Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor, Melanie Phillips and Michael Portillo cross-examine witnesses.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor, Melanie Phillips, Michael Portillo.

20091125Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Michael Portillo, Matthew Taylor, Melanie Phillips and Clifford Longley cross-examine witnesses.

With Michael Portillo, Matthew Taylor, Melanie Phillips and Clifford Longley.

20091202Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Michael Portillo, Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox and Clifford Longley cross-examine witnesses.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Michael Portillo, Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox, Clifford Longley.

20091209Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Michael Portillo, Kenan Malik, Claire Fox and Clifford Longley cross-examine witnesses.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Michael Portillo, Kenan Malik, Claire Fox and Clifford Longley.

20100203Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Melanie Phillips, Matthew Taylor, Michael Portillo and Claire Fox cross-examine witnesses.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Melanie Phillips, Matthew Taylor, Michael Portillo, Claire Fox.

20100210Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Claire Fox, Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik and Ruth Dudley Edwards cross-examine witnesses.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Claire Fox, Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik, Ruth Dudley Edwards.

20100217Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor, Michael Portillo and Clifford Longley cross-examine witnesses.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor, Michael Portillo, Clifford Longley.

20100224Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Melanie Phillips, Michael Portillo, Clifford Longley and Kenan Malik cross-examine witnesses.

With Melanie Phillips, Michael Portillo, Clifford Longley and Kenan Malik.

20100303Michael Buerk chairs. With Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor, Melanie Philips, Clifford Longley.

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Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor, Melanie Philips and Clifford Longley cross-examine witnesses.

20100310Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Melanie Philips, Michael Portillo, Kenan Malik and Matthew Taylor cross-examine witnesses.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Melanie Philips, Michael Portillo, Kenan Malik, Matthew Taylor.

20100317Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor, Melanie Philips and Michael Portillo cross-examine witnesses.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor, Melanie Philips, Michael Portillo.

20100324Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Claire Fox, Michael Portillo, Clifford Longley and Kenan Malik cross-examine witnesses.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Claire Fox, Michael Portillo, Clifford Longley and Kenan Malik.

20100331
20100602Combative, provocative and engaging live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. Michael Buerk chairs with Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik, Claire Fox and Melanie Phillips.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik, Claire Fox and Melanie Phillips.

20100609Combative, provocative and engaging live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. Michael Buerk chairs with Melanie Philips, Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox and Clifford Longley.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Melanie Philips, Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox, Clifford Longley.

20100616Combative, provocative and engaging live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. Michael Buerk chairs with Matthew Taylor, Kenan Malik, Claire Fox and Melanie Philips.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Matthew Taylor, Kenan Malik, Claire Fox and Melanie Philips.

20100623Combative, provocative and engaging live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. Michael Buerk chairs with Kenan Malik, Michael Portillo, Claire Fox and Melanie Phillips.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Kenan Malik, Michael Portillo, Claire Fox and Melanie Phillips.

20100707Combative, provocative and engaging debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. Michael Buerk chairs with Michael Portillo, Melanie Philips, Clifford Longley and Kenan Malik.

With Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips, Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik.

20100714Combative, provocative and engaging debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. Michael Buerk chairs with Claire Fox, Clifford Longley, Anne McElvoy and Matthew Taylor.

With Claire Fox, Clifford Longley, Anne McElvoy and Matthew Taylor.

20100721Combative, provocative and engaging debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. Michael Buerk chairs with Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips, Matthew Taylor and Claire Fox.

With Claire Fox, Clifford Longley, Anne McElvoy and Matthew Taylor.

20101020

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Clifford Longley, Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox and Melanie Philips.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

20101027Combative, provocative and engaging live debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox and Clifford Longley.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

20101103

Combative, provocative and engaging live debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Kenan Malik, Claire Fox and Melanie Philips.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

20101110

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

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

20101117

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik, Anne McElvoy and Melanie Philips.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

20101124

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

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

20101201

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

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

20101208

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

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

20101215

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

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

20110126

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

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

20110302

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Melanie Phillips, Clifford Longley, Anne McElvoy and Kenan Malik.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

20110309

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

What, if anything, should Britain do about Libya? Michael Buerk chairs the debate.

20110316

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Clifford Longley, Melanie Phillips and Kenan Malik.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

20110420Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Claire Fox, Kenan Malik, Michael Portillo, Matthew Taylor.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

20110427Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

20110504
20110511Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by David Aaronovitch with Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik, Michael Portillo and Melanie Phillips.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

20110518Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by David Aaronovitch with Claire Fox, Kenan Malik, Melanie Phillips and Matthew Taylor.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

20110525Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by David Aaronovitch with Claire Fox, Clifford Longley, Melanie Phillips and Matthew Taylor.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

20110601Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by David Aaronovitch with Claire Fox, Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik and Anne McElvoy.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

20110907Combative, provocative and engaging debate.
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20111109Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

Combative, provocative and engaging debate.

20111123
20111130Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by David Aaronovitch with Claire Fox, Clifford Longley, Anne McElvoy and Matthew Taylor.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

20111207
20120208Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Claire Fox, Kenan Malik and Matthew Taylor.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

20120215Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Melanie Phillips, Michael Portillo, Claire Fox and Clifford Longley.

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

20120307Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Matthew Taylor, Clifford Longley and Anne McElvoy.

Combative, provocative and engaging debate on the week's issues, chaired by Michael Buerk.

20120314Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips, Kenan Malik and Clifford Longley.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

20120321Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Matthew Taylor, Melanie Phillips, Claire Fox and Clifford Longley.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

20120328Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Melanie Phillips, Claire Fox, Kenan Malik and Michael Portillo.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

20120613Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Claire Fox and Clifford Longley and Matthew Taylor.
20120620Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips, Matthew Taylor and Claire Fox.
20120627The Prime Minister David Cameron has this week called for a radical shake up in the welfare state. This wasn't just a speech about benefits rates, or dole scroungers - the PM was going back to fundamental principles - what is social security for and who should it serve? To William Beveridge it was about eradicating evil - the "giant evils" of squalor, ignorance, want, idleness and disease. To David Cameron it is about encouraging citizens to do the right thing - to work, to save, to take personal responsibility. The speech and the row it is causing, exposes a profoundly moral divide. Should social benefit payments be the mechanism by which the state seeks greater social justice, or should they be a mechanism by which the state seeks to promote individual morals? On the one hand you have those who argue that it is the moral duty of those in society who are better off to help those less fortunate. The best mechanism to do that is through the state and the tax and benefit system - everyone contributes, everyone is entitled and social solidarity is the result. To others that creates a system that rewards the feckless and punishes the prudent. Or as high Tory thinker TE Utley more elegantly put it "an arrangement under which we all largely cease to be responsible for our own behaviour and in return become responsible for everyone else's." This battle between the "strivers" and the "skivers" has dogged arguments about the welfare state since the Poor Laws. Now the issue of inter-generational justice has complicated the rhetoric as it appears benefits paid to those under 25 could be scrapped first, while universal benefits to well off pensioners will be protected. So the Moral Maze this week is, what is the welfare state for and who should it help?
20120704When you look at the charge sheet against Barclays - egregious levels of pay, aggressive tax avoidance, mis-selling of interest rate swaps to business customers, deception and manipulation of interest rates and lying to regulators - it makes one of the sacred principles of the City "my word is my bond" sound like a rather sick joke. Especially when it's already known that many others, including British High Street banks, are also under investigation. The fall from the days when to be a banker was to be a model of probity and trust may be profound, but banking is only the latest sector to be accused of a systemic moral failure or catastrophic loss of moral leadership. The press, politicians - even striking doctors - have all had their time under the moral microscope. There have been the usual calls for ever tougher regulation and even the jailing of those found to have taken part in this latest episode. But in the face of grand temptation, will ever more complex rules and the threat of public shaming ever be enough? Or will this just encourage a box ticking approach to corporate compliance -- it may be within the rules or legal, but avoiding the harder question, is it moral? Can we ever reclaim the qualities of virtue and personal integrity, or in a largely post-religious, materialist society are we always going to need to be controlled by rules and regulations to behave well?

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips

Clifford Longley and Matthew Taylor.

20120711Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Clifford Longley, Claire Fox and Kenan Malik.
2012071820120721Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

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

2012072520120728How far can and should the state interfere with family life to deal with problem families?

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

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

According to the government there are about 120,000 of them and they cost the tax payer - that's you and me - an estimated £9 billion in benefits, crime, anti-social behaviour and health care. They're problem families and Louise Casey, the head of the government unit tasked with doing something about them has not been mincing her words. She says the state shouldn't be afraid of telling mothers in large problem families of the damage they're doing to society and that they should stop having children. She's also reported as saying that society should be more prepared to talk about shame and guilt when it comes to the behaviour of problem families. The Troubled Families Unit will have a budget of nearly £450 million and a small army of social workers who'll be sent in to manage the lives of those deemed as being a problem to society. How you define a problem family and how many there are may be in dispute, but the moral question here is how far can and should the state interfere with family life? Louise Casey may be correct, but is it the job of the state to tell any of us when and how many children we should have? Are we demonising a group in society for no other reason than they're poor and inadequate? Or is our reluctance to make a moral judgement on the damage this group of people are doing to themselves, their children and wider society, part of the problem itself?

Chaired by Michael Buerk with Melanie Phillips, Claire Fox, Kenan Malik and Anne McElvoy.

Witnesses:

Professor Ruth Levitas - University of Bristol

Alexander Brown - Senior Lecturer in Social & Political Thought, UEA author of "Personal responsibility: Why it Matters"

Christian Guy - Director, Centre for Social Justice

Helen Dent - Director, Family Action.

2012101020121013The 90th anniversary of the BBC. Is public service broadcasting a moral good?

The BBC, the world's first national broadcasting organisation, marks its 90th anniversary this year. It started life on the 18th of October 1922 as the British Broadcasting Company - a joint venture by a group of 6 companies. As the wireless grew in popularity, it became clear that the power of this new medium in people's lives required a different kind of approach. In 1927 the BBC became a non-commercial corporation with its own Royal Charter and the age of the public service broadcaster was born. Creating the BBC was an act of civil morality, a recognition that such a powerful medium should have something other than a commercial purpose; it should provide a public service - hence the now slightly quaint idea that it should "inform, educate and entertain." To say we're in a very different commercial and broadcasting environment now would be an understatement - so what is the moral purpose of a public service broadcaster today? Especially one that is funded by a universal tax? What is the balance between doing what the market won't, or can't do, but at the same time serving the widest possible audience to make sure they get something out what they're being forced to fund? In an age where the importance of an individual's right to choose has become almost an article of faith, is the idea of a universal licence fee to fund a common good still tenable? Especially in a sector where there is ample commercial provision? Or, by making individual choice the sole measure of quality, are we abandoning all values to the short-term demands of the market-place. A special edition of the Moral Maze recorded in front of a live audience at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival to mark the 90th anniversary of the BBC.

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

Witnesses: David Elstein - Chairman of Broadcasting Policy Group, Robin Aiken - Journalist, Matthew Flinders - Professor of Politics, University of Sheffield, Steve Barnett - Professor of Communications, University of Westminster.

2012101720121020Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

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

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2012110720121110Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

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

2012111420121117Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

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

2012112120121124Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

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

2012112820121201Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by David Aaronovitch.

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

2012120520121208Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

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

2013020620130209Engaging 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.

20130213Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Anne McElvoy, Giles Fraser and Claire Fox.
2013032720130330George 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.

20130619Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Claire Fox, Melanie Phillips, Matthew Taylor and Giles Fraser.
20130626They'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.

20130703Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Claire Fox, Melanie Phillips, Anne McElvoy and Kenan Malik.
20130710Mohammed 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.

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

20130717Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Anne McElvoy, Giles Fraser and Matthew Taylor.
20130724Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Claire Fox, Melanie Phillips, Matthew Taylor and Anne McElvoy.
20130731Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Claire Fox, Melanie Phillips and Matthew Taylor.
20130807Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Claire Fox, Anne McElvoy, Kenan Malik and Giles Fraser.
20131009It 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.

20131106Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Michael Portillo, Claire Fox, Anne McElvoy and Kenan Malik.
20131120Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

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

20131127Combative, 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.

20131204Combative, 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.

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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.

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

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Combative, provocative and engaging debate.

2014062520140628Who should be given anonymity in sex crimes? Presented by Michael Buerk.

Transparency is a cornerstone of the justice system, but are the scales of justice becoming dangerously unbalanced when it comes to sex crimes? 21 year old Ben Sullivan, the former president of the Oxford Union, is the latest man to say that his life has been ruined after allegations that he raped a fellow student and sexually assaulted another. He was arrested in May and held in a cell for 12 hours before being released on bail. It was 6 weeks before he was cleared, but in that time his name was published in the press and all over the internet turning his life upside-down. Under current legislation people who complain they've been the victims of sexual offences automatically receive anonymity but suspects do not. Is that fair? Being accused of committing a sex crime carries a unique stigma. In the wake of the fever of publicity about celebrities being investigated in operation Yewtree, are we in danger of treating the accused as guilty until proven innocent? It hasn't always been the case. From 1976 to 1988 both parties in such cases were granted anonymity. But is introducing more secrecy in to our courts the answer? And if we grant anonymity to those accused of rape, why not to those accused of child abuse, or child murder? The law on anonymity was changed because police said it made it difficult to gather evidence if they couldn't name the accused, but there are those who say that it now makes it far too easy make false allegations of rape. Are sex crimes so uniquely pernicious and hard to convict that we should rebalance the system in favour of victims? Could we ever go back to a system where both parties are named? How do you balance the scales of justice when it comes to rape and other sex crimes?

Moral Maze - Presented by Michael Buerk.

20140709

Michael Buerk presents combative, provocative and engaging debate.

20140716

Michael Buerk presents combative, provocative and engaging debate.

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20141022
20141105Debate programme that examines the ethical issues behind topical news stories.
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20141203David Aaronovitch hosts a debate on the ethical issues behind a topical news story.
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Combative, provocative and engaging debate.

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

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

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Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

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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.

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

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

20161005

Do we want to live in a world without Down's syndrome? This isn't just a theoretical question. It could soon become a reality. A new technique called non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT), detects Down's syndrome with 99% accuracy and it should soon be available on the NHS. It's already being used in Iceland where 100% of Down's syndrome pregnancies are terminated. The Danish health system declared the objective of being Down's-free and introduced the test in 2006. The termination rate there today is 98%. In Britain the termination rate is 90 per cent and around 775 babies with Down's syndrome are born every year in England and Wales. A lot of effort has been made to increase people's knowledge of the condition which has a wide range of symptoms. Many children with it will grow in to adulthood and lead very integrated lives, but some will never walk or talk, or may have severe heart defects, grave digestive problems, glaucoma, deafness and a risk of early dementia. Would it be a sign of human progress if we reduced the number of people born with Down's syndrome to zero? Many people would agree that reducing suffering is an unequivocal moral good, yet when Richard Dawkins told a woman on Twitter that if she was carrying a child with Down's she should "abort it and try again" and "It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have a choice" there was an outcry. NIPT could soon be available for other single gene disorders such as cystic fibrosis and we've done our best to eradicate many other disabling conditions, so why not make the most of what technology can offer? Or is this a kind of nightmare eugenicist council of perfection - a triumph of cold hearted utilitarianism over our moral duty to embrace difference and care for our fellow man?

20161026

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

20161116

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

20170222

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

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

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

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

20170614Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

British politics has experienced what's been dubbed a "youth-quake." What seemed like political certainties a few weeks ago have been turned on their head by the high youth turnout. And that's a Good Thing isn't it? Politicians have long bewailed the fact that young people don't exercise their democratic right - even if all it takes is not much more than putting a simple 'X' in a box. Until now electoral arithmetic meant that politicians targeted increasingly smaller groups of voters in key constituencies. Now, with people under the age of 25 more engaged than ever in the political process, it's argued that politicians will have to recalibrate their policies to serve a wider group of citizens. There are also those who argue that political parties have been too ready to bow to the power of the "grey vote", too reluctant to look to the next generation and the future. The philosopher John Gray wrote that "the modern world is founded on the belief that it's possible for human beings to shape a future that's better than anything in the past." Has this election been a triumph for young people who've captured that spirit and finally made their voice heard, or has it enshrined grievance and divisive notions of inter-generational unfairness? Is the political engagement of the young a triumph for democracy, or just another group blatantly voting in their own interest? Will the newly enthused youth vote now engage more with the political system and take responsibility for their vote, or just drift off when the next shiny new thing comes along? Has the "youth-quake" spelled the end of managerial politics and brought back commitment, principle and idealism, or has it brought just dangerous uncertainty? The morality of democracy and generational voting. Producer Phil Pegum.

20170621Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

Rage is an understandable emotional reaction to the Grenfell tower fire. It's not just a response to the number of people who died or were severely injured and the many hundreds more who lost loved ones or have been evacuated from their homes in the area. It's when you look at the accounts of Kensington and Chelsea council that the emotion crystallises into something more morally troubling. In the last financial year the council had spendable reserves of more than £300 million and was running at such a profit it could afford to write off £1.5 million on subsidising Holland Park Opera. A sprinkler system for Grenfell tower would have cost around £200,000. Were those in Grenfell tower victims of the dogma of the free market - to which New Labour signed up along with the Conservative party - that has destroyed our sense of social obligation and the common good? If they were victims of bad government, is the answer more regulation? Or does "red tape" reduce morality and personal responsibility to a tick-box mentality? This Wednesday campaigners are planning what they call a "day of rage" to protest at the social injustice they say is at the heart of the tragedy. They are calling for people to "defy Tory rule". It's not hard to turn this tragedy into a political morality tale about rich and poor and it may even be understandable to do that, but is it a justifiable tactic when emotions are running so high? Anger is an energy that can be focused to achieve change, but it can also career out of control as we saw outside a mosque in north London this week. With3 recent major terrorist incidents and a fractured political climate you could argue that as a nation we're living through febrile emotional times. Do we all have a responsibility to choose our words carefully?

20170628Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

Theresa May has been forced to ditch whole chunks of her party's manifesto in the wake of the election, but one of the key non-Brexit policies to survive is the plan to crack down on tech companies that allow extremist and abusive material to be published on their networks. The recent terrorist attacks have strengthened the arguments of campaigners who've long said that it's far too easy to access this kind of content and have accused internet companies of wilfully ignoring the problem. The promised "Digital Charter" will aim to force those companies to do more to protect users and improve online safety. With the growing power of tech giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter, connecting billions of people around the globe, is it pie in the sky to promise that Britain will be the safest place to be online? On one level this is a moral argument which has been going on for centuries about what we should, and should not be allowed to read and see and who should make those decisions. But is this a bigger problem than freedom of speech? Have we reached a tipping point where the moral, legal, political and social principles that have guided us in this field have been made redundant by the technology? Do we need to find new kind of moral philosophy that can survive in a digital age and tame the power of the tech-corps? Or is the problem uncomfortably closer to home - a question that each and every one of us has to face up to? Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, recently said that he was concerned about new technologies making us think like computers "without values or compassion, without concern for consequence." Witnesses are Nikita Malik, Tom Chatfield, Mike Harris and Mariarosaria Taddeo.

20170712Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

The case of Charlie Gard, the desperately sick 11-month-old on life support in London's Great Ormond Street Hospital, has captured the attention of the world. At the centre of it are two parents who instinctively believe in going to any lengths to fight for their baby's life, even when the doctors treating him have reluctantly come to accept there is nothing more to be done to mitigate the effects of his exceptionally rare genetic condition. The legal battle raises painful ethical questions about who - parents, doctors or judges - should decide whether or not to continue the treatment of a critically-ill child, and where the line should be drawn between preserving life and preventing suffering. Away from the strict field of medical ethics, there are wider questions about the value society should place on the parental claim to know what is best for a child. Should there be limits on parents' rights to make decisions for their children, based on their own personal moral, ideological or religious convictions? Should they, for example, have the right to withdraw their child from compulsory sex education? Should babies be subjected to certain religious rituals or cultural practices which are the subject of wider ethical concerns? It could be argued that children don't belong to their parents as much as they belong to the community as a whole and that there is a collective duty of care which trumps parental wishes. On the other hand, if parents are responsible for taking all sorts of practical decisions for the sake of their children's well-being until they're 18 years old, isn't it also reasonable to accept their right to make moral judgements on their behalf? To what extent should the state be responsible for determining what are 'good' and 'bad' parental decisions? The morality of parental rights.
Witnesses are Ed Condon, Prof Raanan Gillon, Carol Iddon and Prof Dominic Wilkinson.

Producer: Dan Tierney.

20170719Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

A long-running legal battle between Ofsted and the Al-Hijrah Islamic state school in Birmingham has reached the Court of Appeal. The principle at stake is whether segregating boys and girls - for all classes, breaks and trips - amounts to unlawful sex discrimination in a mixed-sex setting. Ofsted's lawyers argue that it is "a kind of apartheid", leaving girls "unprepared for life in modern Britain". The school maintains that gender segregation is one of its defining characteristics and that the policy is clear - parents can make an informed choice. The case is based on the Equality Act, which means the implications of the ruling will be far-reaching and will apply to all schools, not just state schools. Should gender segregation be allowed in co-educational faith schools? If it is as abhorrent as segregating children according to their race, why is the great British tradition of single-sex education not the subject of similar scrutiny? The case also raises wider moral concerns about what we as a society will allow to go on in faith schools, whether they are publicly-funded or not. Is the promotion of one dominant world view - taught as "truth" - desirable? Are faith schools a vital component of multiculturalism or a threat to it? Should a truly integrated society be judged on the diversity within its schools, lest they become cultural or religious ghettos? To do away with faith-based education entirely would be to do away with some of the best and most over-subscribed schools in the country. Would that be a price worth paying for a more cohesive society, or a monstrous display of religious intolerance? The morality of faith schools.
Witnesses are Afua Hirsch, Prof Anthony O'Hear, Iram Ramzan and Asad Zaman.
Producer: Dan Tierney.

20170726Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

Despite the introduction of the Equal Pay Act nearly half a century ago, the BBC salary revelations of last week suggest that the most dramatic example of inequality for women - the gender pay gap - shows no immediate sign of narrowing. In a letter urging the corporation to act now to deal with the disparity, many of its highest-profile female personalities emphasise "what many of us have suspected for many years... that women at the BBC are being paid less than men for the same work." Logically, the legal and moral case for paying the same rate for the same job is overwhelming. But in practice, can two jobs ever be exactly the same? Even if they are the same on paper, what people do with their jobs may be very different. Many examples of the difference in the average earnings of men and women stem from the biological fact that women are the child-bearers. Does that mean we will never be able to escape an inherently misogynistic culture? What more could or should companies, government and society reasonably do about gender disparities? Is positive discrimination essential, or does it merely address the symptoms rather than the causes of inequality? Would a ban on the promotion of perceived gender stereotypes in advertising be one useful way of tackling everyday sexism? Or is viewing society through the prism of gender an unhealthy obsession and an unhelpful distraction from the job of tackling wider inequalities in wealth, health and education?
Witnesses are Emily Hill, Nikki Van De Gaag, Sophie Walker and Dr Joanna Williams.

Producer: Dan Tierney.

20170802Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

One of the less predictable arguments to result from Brexit concerns the rights and wrongs of chlorine-washed chickens. Perhaps chlorinated-chicken-gate made many people feel temporarily smug about UK standards of animal welfare, compared with those in other parts of the world. Yet, at the same time, the Advertising Standards Authority upheld a 'Go Vegan World' advert with the headline "Humane milk is a myth" - a claim which suggests we do have much further to go before we can feel morally-superior about our treatment of animals. Veganism is on the rise, driven by animal welfare, health and environmental concerns. According to the Vegan Society, sales of vegan food increased by 1,500% last year and there are now more than half a million vegans in the UK, up from 150,000 ten years ago. Is veganism the next step in the march towards a more morally-enlightened and humane society? Or is it just a city-dwellers' fad, detached from the realities of food production, global economics and evolutionary biology? Whether vegans, vegetarians or meat-eaters, can our food production and consumption ever be compatible with animal welfare? Even if the language of animal 'rights' is unhelpful, do humans have a moral duty to avoid cruelty of any kind to other living things? Or is that an impossible goal while we prioritise the interests of Homo sapiens over the welfare of all other animals? Some believe that a society which is caring towards animals is more likely to be caring towards people. Others say that our conditioning from early childhood to embrace cuddly, friendly, talking animals has made us much too sentimental. As long as basic welfare standards are met, shouldn't important human needs be served by animals - including cheap chlorinated chickens?

Producer: Dan Tierney.

20170809Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

For the crowds of holidaymakers flocking to Spain, it must have come as a shock to see "tourists go home" daubed on buildings in Barcelona and Majorca. You'd think the locals would be more grateful for the millions of euros they bring with them to spend. The resentment is not just about belligerent and under-dressed Brits drinking all day and yelling all night. The anti-tourist graffiti, tyre-slashing and window-smashing are protests against the economics and morality of mass tourism, which - according to activists - impoverishes the working-class. Yet in other parts of the world, the tourist trade is seen as vital to the livelihood of local people. Does that make the decision about where to go on holiday a moral one? Even if we are aware that tourism can have negative impacts, and that our money may not end up in the pockets of the poorest, it's easy not to think about it. Can't we just rely on the tour operators to behave ethically? Does it really matter if tourism is trashing the planet as long as we're spreading prosperity and everyone (or almost everyone) is having a good time? Or do we have a moral duty to think carefully before we book our all-inclusive package holidays? Is it ethically defensible to live it up in a country with a lousy record on human rights? And what about the environmental damage caused by all those air miles? Perhaps it's our patriotic duty to reach for the umbrella and enjoy a staycation in soon-to-be post-Brexit Britain?

Producer: Dan Tierney.

2019032020190323 (R4)Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

Live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. #moralmaze

20190327Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

Live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. #moralmaze

01/12/201020101204It's reported this week that scientists in America, have for the first time, managed to reverse the effects of ageing in animals. The experiment was carried out on mice at Harvard. Before the treatment their skin and other organs were equivalent to those of an 80 year old human. After the injection of a drug that switches on a key enzyme, the mice grew so many new cells that they'd almost completely rejuvenated. The results raise some difficult questions.

No one would argue that we should work on drugs that alleviate the problems of old age, but should we actively try to extend life itself? In the UK by 2031, more than a fifth of the population will be over 65 and the fastest growing population will be those aged 85 and over. It's not just a question of the cost, but how we value the old in society. Despite plans for legislation, allegations of ageism are common place. Are we stuck with an out of date attitude to the old that has too often resulted in them being shuffled off in to age reservations as soon as they hit three score years and ten? Has our culture, which so values youthfulness come to terms with the improvements to the physical and mental capabilities of the elderly? Or are the old themselves partly to blame? Desperately clinging on to their youth with pills, potions and plastic surgery. Is the search for eternal youth hubris, or a natural part of the human condition? If we assist in extending life, will that inevitably mean assistance ending? When it comes to age, when is enough enough?

The Moral Maze chaired by Michael Buerk with Melanie Phillips, Kenan Malik, Matthew Taylor and Claire Fox.

Should we welcome treatments to reverse the ageing process?

02/02/201120110205Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

02/03/201120110305Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

02/12/200920091205Michael Buerk chairs. With Michael Portillo, Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox, Clifford Longley.
03/02/201020100206The author Sir Terry Pratchett is calling for euthanasia tribunals to give sufferers from incurable diseases the right to medical help to end their lives. His idea comes as two polls are published which show widespread support for assisted dying. A system that allowed people to get medical help to die would avoid the harrowing dilemma of either watching a loved one suffer, or face jail for helping them out of their misery. But is there moral cowardice at the heart of this debate? Is it more about fear of our own death, rather than a genuine compassion for others? Whose death is it anyway?

Our witnesses are:

Dr Kevin Yuill - senior lecturer in history and American Studies at the University of Sunderland. Currently working on a book on assisted suicide.

Debbie Purdy - has MS and campaigns for assisted dying.

Rev Dr Lee Rayfield, Anglican Bishop of Swindon - Used to teach medical and dential students and has a particular interest in questions of medical ethics.

Andrew Norman Wilson - author and columnist.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Melanie Phillips, Matthew Taylor, Michael Portillo, Claire Fox.

03/03/201020100306Michael Buerk chairs. With Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor, Melanie Philips, Clifford Longley.

Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor, Melanie Philips and Clifford Longley cross-examine witnesses.

03/06/200920090606Michael Buerk is joined by Claire Fox, Melanie Phillips, Clifford Longley and Kenan Malik to consider what has become of moral authority.

It doesn't just apply to MPs; the moral authority of the institutions and professions that we used to turn to as a source of wisdom and guidance has been undermined, or even fatally flawed. And now it seems we cannot even trust our poets to be true prophetic voices. So where do we look to for moral authority now, and does it even matter? Did any of these bodies ever truly deserve our trust? Is it better to rely on our own moral judgement, rather than abdicating it to something or someone else?

Witnesses:

Esther Rantzen, journalist and television presenter

Dr Catherine Cowley RA, Assistant Director for the Heythrop Institute for Religion, Ethics and Public Life

George Monbiot, environmental campaigner

John Lloyd, author of What the Media are Doing to Our Politics.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Claire Fox, Melanie Phillips, Clifford Longley and Kenan Malik.

03/11/201020101106The Al-Qaeda bombs on cargo planes heading for America may have failed to detonate, but for psychological impact their timing couldn't have been better. The prospect of airline chiefs getting their much sought after reform of the stringent checks on passengers must now look remote. Of course the terrorists want us to be constantly reminded of their threat; to disrupt our lives; to make us live in fear, even though the chances of any of us being a victim of the terrorism are miniscule. But are we playing in to their hands with the blanket news coverage and seemingly constant stream of security experts ready to warn us of the sinister threats to our safety? Perhaps it's not only our psychological well being that's being eroded - there's our civil liberties as well. The police are allowed to hold suspects for 28 days without trial; the government is reviewing the use of detention orders, but it's going to take a brave politician in the current climate to stand up and say we need less security. Perhaps that's a case of moral cowardice, but then the ongoing inquest in to the 7/7 bombing is a sobering reminder of the horrors of terrorism. The terrorists only have to be lucky once, our security services have to be lucky every day. Shouldn't they have all the tools they need to combat those who want to do us harm and that may mean temporarily sacrificing some of our freedoms. So, terrorism, the politics of fear and the price we're willing to pay to defend our civil liberties.

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Kenan Malik, Claire Fox and Melanie Philips.

Terrorism, civil liberties and the climate of fear, chaired by Michael Buerk.

04/02/200920090207Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik, Michael Portillo and Melanie Phillips cross-examine witnesses.

With Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik, Michael Portillo and Melanie Phillips.

04/03/200920090307 Michael Buerk chairs. With Michael Portillo, Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor, Clifford Longley.
04/05/201120110507
04/11/200920091107When does a popular and spontaneous protest become mob rule? Fans of Twitter, the micro-blogging site, have chalked up a couple of notable victories of late. Followers helped to expose a legal injunction against The Guardian and Twitter-led protests generated tens of thousands of complaints against Jan Moir when she wrote a column using the death of Stephen Gately to criticise gay marriage. Is this net-based protest a valuable tool to demonstrate popular opinion or are we sacrificing traditional political engagement for the instant gratification direct action?

Witnesses:

Professor Andrew Chadwick of the New Political Communication Unit at Royal Holloway, University of London, and author of the book Internet Politics

Brendan O'Neill, journalist, writer and editor of Spiked Online

Nick Cohen, author and Observer journalist

Ben Locker, 'Twitterer'.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Kenan Malik, Melanie Phillips, James Panton, Clifford Longley.

07/03/201220120310
07/07/201020100710When the government said it was asking for departments to come up with plans for a 40% cut in their budget, the message was clear - nothing was going to be sacred. Except that is the NHS and foreign aid. While schools, police and armed forces all say cuts of this magnitude will hit front line services, the £7 billion a year budget for the Department for International Development has been ring fenced. In the depths of an unprecedented financial crisis, why should foreign aid be exempt from scrutiny? Defenders say there's a very clear moral imperative - if we cut foreign aid people will die as a direct result. Critics argue that government spending on aid has been distorted by the dictates of foreign policy - how else could you explain why we're giving over £800m in aid to India - a country that can afford its own space programme?

Is foreign aid a luxury we can't afford, or is this just another excuse not to care - to disengage from our responsibilities as one of the richest countries on earth and close our eyes to the suffering of millions of people around the world?

Michael Buerk chairs with Michael Portillo, Melanie Philips, Clifford Longley and Kenan Malik.

Witnesses:

Julian Harris, Project Director at International Policy Network

Sabina Alkire, Director of the Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative and an Anglican Priest.

Michela Wrong, former journalist and the author of three non-fiction books on Africa, latest book was about corruption in Kenya called 'It's our turn to eat'

Myles Wickstead, Former ambassador in Ethiopia, Visiting prof of International Relations at the OU. Ran the Secretariat for the Commission for Africa, revisiting the issue.

With Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips, Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik.

08/02/201220120211
08/07/200920090711Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Claire Fox, Michael Portillo, Clifford Longley and Kenan Malik cross-examine witnesses.

While Conservative and Labour politicians are trading insults with each other in a bid to win over the 'gay vote', the Bishop of Rochester has taken a different tack. With the rainbow bunting from London's Pride festival hardly yet packed away, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali said homosexuals should change and repent their sin.

The Church of England has been embroiled in a doctrinal battle over sexuality since the ordination of the first openly homosexual bishop in 2003. The Bishop of Rochester was speaking just before the launch of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, a conservative group in the Church of England. 'We want to hold on to the traditional teachings of the Church. We don't want to be rolled over by culture and trends in the Church.' Well, despite Michael Nazir-Ali's attempts to clarify his position, saying that we all need to repent for straying from God's purpose for us, it hasn't stopped the accusations of homophobia.

The 2008 Criminal Justice and Immigration Act created the criminal offence of 'incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation'. But after lobbying from religious groups, the government was forced to accept a Lords amendment that allowed a freedom of speech defence. Bishops in the Lords are now fighting the government's latest attempts to get that defence dropped.

Where should we draw the line between religious conscience and freedom of speech? Should your faith allow you the freedom to challenge and question the way we live, or is this a thinly-disguised mask for intolerance and prejudice? Anti-discrimination legislation once aimed to ensure that society treated citizens equally. Instead of fighting for equality, are the godly just demanding special treatment for themselves and the social fragmentation that goes with it? Or, with 116 separate pieces of equality legislation in force, have we gone too far in our efforts to legislate against unfairness and to wipe out differences?

Michael Buerk chairs. With Claire Fox, Michael Portillo, Clifford Longley and Kenan Malik.

08/12/201020101211The government has announced that it's going ahead with legislation that will allow employers to select workers on the basis of their sex, race or disability. It's argued the new law is needed because despite years of anti-discrimination laws there are still invisible barriers in the workplace for some groups in society. The government call it "positive action" - if two people going for the same job are equally qualified it will enable firms to chose women, ethnic minorities or disabled if they feel those groups are under represented in their business. Although, if you're the person who doesn't get the job it may feel more like positive discrimination.

How far should we go in tackling inequalities in the work place? Combating prejudice is the key to an equitable society, so isn't it time we took it seriously, from the boardroom to the building site? If the law hasn't worked up to now, why not quotas? But are we in danger of sacrificing one set of prejudices for another? What becomes of the principle of meritocracy, where you get on on the basis of your skills and not on your sex or race? Does this legislation encourage identity politics and blur the line between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome? Are we really all born equal? Or is inequality a vital part of the human condition that encourages competition and motivates people to strive to better themselves? Or is this the thinly veiled prejudice of vested interests that is always trotted out to defend the indefensible?

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

Positive discrimination verses meritocracy. Chaired by Michael Buerk.

09/02/201120110212Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

09/03/201120110312Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox, Clifford Longley and Anne McElvoy.

What, if anything, should Britain do about Libya? Michael Buerk chairs the debate.

09/11/201120111112
09/12/200920091212It's that time of year again when the forces of greed and conspicuous consumption do battle with guilt and pious sentiment. So how do you have a merry and a moral Christmas? Michael Buerk and the panel settle down around the festive table to try to find out.

Witnesses:

Ruth Rosselson, writer, Ethical Consumer Magazine

Julian Baggini, philosopher and author

Jonathan Bartley, director of Ekklesia, a web-based think-tank promoting theological ideas in the public sphere.

Susie Boyt, author and journalist.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Michael Portillo, Kenan Malik, Claire Fox and Clifford Longley.

10/02/201020100213More than 70,000 citizens will be denied their chance to vote in the general election this Spring. They're prisoners and the ban has been in place since 1870. In 2005 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the ban breaches prisoners' right to free elections. Prison reform charities have warned that the government has had enough time to sort this out and if the general election goes ahead and prisoners aren't allowed to vote, it could be challenged in the courts. Have criminals by definition lost their moral authority to vote or could it help with their rehabilitation and keep them in touch with society and their role as citizens? How do we balance the rights of prisoners with our rights to punish them, and who should decide which takes precedence?

Witnesses:

Bobby Cummines

Chief executive of UNLOCK and reformed offender.

Sir Ivan Lawrence QC

Criminal lawyer mainly engaged in defence for 48 years, and Conservative MP for 23 years where he was chairman of the Conservative Party legal and home affairs committee.

David Green

Director of Civitas, institute for the study of civil society.

John Walsh QC

Barrister at Doughty Street Chambers specialising in immigration and prison law. He is also chair of the trustees of Irish Chaplaincy in Britain, which supports Irish prisoners abroad.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Claire Fox, Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik, Ruth Dudley Edwards.

10/03/201020100313
10/11/201020101113Government welfare reform plans to be released include proposals that the unemployed will be expected to join 4 week long community work projects - if they refuse they'll have their benefit stopped for 3 months. Critics say the idea is a way of punishing the workless and is humiliating people who are already extremely vulnerable. The Archbishop of Canterbury says it could drive them in to a spiral of despair. But why should people be allowed to sit at home on benefits doing nothing? What's wrong with expecting them to give something back to society in return? Perhaps it will also combat the culture of welfare dependency and encourage the poor to take more responsibility for themselves. This new conditionality in the welfare system isn't just a matter of tinkering at the edges - it could mean a fundamental change in what the state requires of us as citizens. In the past benefits were paid on a simple calculation of need, or age. But now there's an extra level - not only do you have to be unemployed, but you also have to do good works for the community. Will this kill off the culture of entitlement? And if so why not introduce the same principles for other benefits? Perhaps pensioners should have to baby sit one evening a week to qualify for their state handout? Ask yourself not what benefit I am entitled to, but what should I do to make myself worthy of receiving it.

Should the unemployed have to work for their benefits?

10/12/200820081213Michael Buerk chairs a debate with Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik, Melanie Phillips and Claire Fox about legalising assisted dying. Has the public's opinion on the subject shifted or is the right to life being undermined and euthanasia being introduced by the back door?

Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik, Melanie Phillips and Claire Fox cross-examine witnesses.

11/02/200920090214
11/05/201120110514
11/11/200920091114What is the best way to bring up a child? According to the think tank Demos the answer is clear. Children whose parents adopt a 'tough love approach' are much more likely to develop vital life than those whose parents took a more laissez-faire attitude to rules and boundaries. The research also found it was middle-class and married parents that were most likely to take the tough love approach. Demos believe this study shows the best way to bring up children and it's time to be more honest about the damage that poor parenting is causing our society. With so much at stake should parenting be a private matter or should the state take more action to support the most vulnerable children and their parents? What is the nature of good parenting, can we teach it and what should be the government's role in it all?

Witnesses:

Sue Cohen, director of Single Parents Action Network

Nola Leach, general director of CARE (Christian Action, Research and Education)

Dr Ellie Lee, Senior Lecturer in Social Policy, University of Kent

Richard Reeves, director of DEMOS.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Claire Fox, Kenan Malik, Melanie Phillips and Clifford Longley.

14/07/201020100717France is the latest European country to talk of banning the burqa - the full Islamic face veil for women. Belgium has already voted for a ban and there's also been talk of similar laws in Holland and Spain. France has the largest Muslim population in Europe and polls there show overwhelming support for the proposal. It's estimated that around 1900 women in France wear the burqa and most do so because they want to. Those in favour of a ban argue that the burqa is a gateway to extremism and an attack on secularism, a central value of modern-day France. For many this is also an issue of protecting women's rights; the burqa they argue, is a symbol of male oppression and as one French law maker is reported to have said, women who wear them must be liberated, even against their will.

The state banning something as personal as what you chose to wear in public is a tricky issue for liberal Western democracies, but can the rush to uncover Europe's most pious Muslims be explained solely by a newfound desire to protect the rights of women? Or is this more about notions of cultural purity and the darker side of humanity in Europe which raises its head from time to time? The fear of the stranger, of shunning those who look different to ourselves - the attitude which can lead to Islamophobia/racism. How far should we compromise our values to accommodate the cultural norms from different faiths and societies?

Michael Buerk chairs with Claire Fox, Clifford Longley, Anne McElvoy and Matthew Taylor.

Witnesses:

Peter Whittle, Director, The New Culture Forum

Mona Eltahaway, Commentator and public lecturer on Arab and Muslim issues

Khola Hasan, Islamic legal consultant

Dr Salman Sayyid, Reader in Sociology at Leeds.

Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the issues surrounding banning the burqa.

14/10/200920091017Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips, Clifford Longley and Matthew Taylor cross-examine witnesses.

When should we forgive and should we ever forget? It's the 25th anniversary of the Brighton Bomb and the man who planted it will be sharing a platform in Parliament with the daughter of one of the people he killed - talking about forgiveness. Is anyone ever beyond redemption? Are any crimes ever too heinous to forgive? How do we balance the desire for retribution with society's need to pursue wider understanding and reconciliation?

Witnesses:

Paul Bowman

Father of Sally Anne Bowman who was murdered in 2005

Bishop Peter Price

Bishop of Bath and Wells

Ruth Dudley Edwards

Historian, commentator and author of Aftermath: The Omagh Bombings and The Families Pursuit of Justice

Hon Timothy Knatchbull

Lost his grandfather, Lord Mountbatten, and twin brother 30 years ago in IRA bombing.

With Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips, Clifford Longley and Matthew Taylor.

15/02/201220120218
15/07/200920090718Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips, Claire Fox and Matthew Taylor cross-examine witnesses.

Who to send to war and why is one of the most morally difficult decisions any politician will have to make. If we don't have a clear and legally-justifiable set of goals, is it ever morally right to send young men - and increasingly women - to face death? With the images of the latest members of our forces to be killed all over the front pages of the papers, it is a question that all of us, not just politicians, have to face up to.

The goal of the Afghan campaign has variously been described as fighting Al-Qaeda terrorists, freeing the country from the despotic Taleban regime and fighting the drugs trade, but do any of them add up to a moral justification? What is our moral obligation to Afghanistan and is it challenged by the rising number of casualties? Is the current disquiet at home over the high rate of casualties because we no longer believe in this war? Or have we become so risk averse that we have forgotten that the enemy will shoot back and that people get killed? Do we still have the moral courage and moral authority to send our armed forces in to battle on our behalf?

Canon Dr Alan Billings

Anglican priest and chaplain in the British armed forces, teaching military ethics

John Rees

Writer and political activist, co-founder of the Stop the War Coalition

Zarghona Rassa

Chairperson of the British Afghan Women's Society.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips, Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor.

15/12/201020101218Around 20 million people watched it and many many more words have probably been written about it. The X Factor has finished its series, but if you thought you were in for a break from the incessant drone of popular culture you're wrong. We've got the Strictly Come Dancing final next week and after that a Christmas TV schedule rich with opportunity to veg out and switch off your brain. You may argue that programmes like these are just a bit of fun - water cooler moments that we can all share and enjoy; that in a fragmented society offer us a small piece of common ground. But has our addiction to popular culture got out of hand? Is it like counterfeit currency, driving out quality and any programme that attempts to engage you mentally beyond having to punch a few numbers in to a phone to vote? Is that elitist, patronising snobbery of the worst kind or have these sorts of programmes now become so powerful that they've elevated the cult of celebrity to something we aspire to and admire, while at the same time turning a blind eye to the moral turpitude that so often goes hand in hand with that culture. Post the cultural studies revolution, who now argues that Bach is of more moral worth than Britney? Is that the triumph of democracy or demagoguery? Have the arts given in to the forces of cultural relativism and sacrificed the intellectual high ground in their quest for a wider audience? Or is the problem not the power of programmes like the X Factor, but that those in the arts industry are more interested in talking to each other rather than championing intellectual excellence. How do we judge the moral worth of art?

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

High art v the X Factor and popular culture.

16/02/201120110219Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

16/03/201120110319The medicalisation of misbehaviour.

The 'DSM' - The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the Bible of American psychiatry - is reported this week to be debating whether to recognise 'sex addiction' as a treatable medical condition.

Private 'rehab' clinics say that more and more clients are seeking treatment for sex addiction. Those who have already undergone therapy for it include Russell Brand, Tiger Woods and Michael Douglas.

So should we tear up the seventh commandment and replace it with 'If you commit adultery you should seek therapy'?

We could replace a few more commandments. In place of 'Remember the Sabbath', 'Thou shalt not covet', 'Thou shalt not steal' and 'Honour thy father and mother', we could have 'Recognise that you may be a workaholic, a shopaholic or a kleptomaniac, or that you may have Oppositional Defiant Disorder.'

If any socially-unacceptable behaviour is a symptom of a condition that can be treated with drugs or therapy or both, where does that leave those quaint old moral terms good and bad, right and wrong? Are we nowadays too willing to excuse bad behaviour as the morally-neutral symptom of some newly-defined mental disorder? Or is medical science finding new ways to diagnose and treat the causes of deviance where traditional morality has failed?

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Clifford Longley, Melanie Phillips and Kenan Malik.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

17/02/201020100220Should some rape victims accept some responsibility for being attacked? A newly-published survey says the majority of people believe they should. It also reveals that women are even less forgiving of the victim than men. Almost three quarters of the women questioned said if a victim got into bed with the assailant before an attack they should take part of the blame. In a drink-fuelled, highly sexualised society, where do you draw the line between personal freedom and personal responsibility?

Witnesses:

Angela Levin, author and journalist.

Dr Nicole Westmarland, academic at Durham University and former chair of Rape Crisis England and Wales.

Ellie Levenson, author of The Noughtie Girl's Guide to Feminism.

Professor Lisa Isherwood, professor of feminist liberation theologies.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor, Michael Portillo, Clifford Longley.

17/03/201020100320A London fertility clinic has caused outrage by putting up a human egg as the prize in a raffle. The winner will be able to travel to America, where they'll get the chance to select their ideal donor egg based on its mother's profession, ethnic background and qualifications. Critics have called the plan deplorable and claim it cheapens human life, reducing it to a commercial transaction. But is it inherently immoral? The heart of this issue is that demand for eggs and sperm outstrips supply. So if altruism and generosity aren't solving the problem, why not let the market do the job and pay people the going rate for their gametes?

Witnesses:

Professor Gedis Grudzinskas, ex-medical director of the Bridge Centre Fertility Clinic; now a consultant in infertility and gynaecology

Dr Alexina McWhinnie, ex-senior research fellow at Dundee University Department of Social Work and writer on the subject of the long-term effects of donor insemination. Author of a book called Who Am I?

Professor Janet Radcliffe Richards, professor of practical philosophy at Oxford University

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the British Medical Association.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Anne McElvoy, Michael Portillo, Kenan Malik and Matthew Taylor.

17/11/201020101120How far should we tolerate civil disobedience and direct action in a democracy? It's a question we're probably going to be asking ourselves a lot over the next few months. The students have been the most high profile so far, but they're not the only ones who are angry and not going to take it anymore. UK Uncut has targeted Vodaphone - staging protests which closed many of the company's shops across the UK in a campaign over tax avoidance - claims the company and HM Customs say are groundless. Union leaders are busily planning demo's and even the good citizens of Twitter had their own "I am Spartacus" moment. Is it ever acceptable to break the law in the name of a cause? Do the ends ever justify the means and if so, what's the difference between legitimate civil disobedience and mob rule? Is it just the level of violence? And how morally culpable are those protestors who style themselves as noble warriors for a righteous cause, but all the time knowing that their protest is likely to lead to damage, violence and injury? Does direct action undermine the democratic principle that you should try and persuade people of the justice of your cause through dialogue and the ballot box? Is direct action an inevitable consequence of government and business interests refusing to listen to communities under threat and an essential tool for people of conscience to make themselves heard?

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik, Anne McElvoy and Melanie Philips.

When is civil disobedience and direct action justified? Chaired by Michael Buerk.

17/12/200820081220 With Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik, Michael Portillo and Claire Fox.

Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik and Michael Portillo ask, can there be too much democracy?

Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik, Michael Portillo and Claire Fox cross-examine witnesses as the programme asks, can there be too much democracy?

Have the expectations of the TV phone-in vote generation gone too far? Is representative democracy undermined by continued government consultation exercises? Or are more votes needed on contentious issues, to encourage people to engage with the political process?

18/02/200920090221Michael Buerk celebrates the 500th edition of the programme with a debate held at the Royal Society of Medicine in London. Melanie Philips, Michael Portillo, Claire Fox and Clifford Longley cross-examine witnesses Tom Butler, Bishop of Southwark, Professor Alistair McGrath, Head of the Centre for Theology, Religion and Culture at King's College and author of The Dawkins Delusion, Peter Cave, chair of the British Humanist Philosophers group and author of Humanism: a Beginner's Guide, and Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris.

Michael and the panel consider the question. if you do not believe in a set of divinely inspired moral rules, how do you decide right from wrong in a world with complex and competing interests? We live in an age where there is no longer general agreement on religion and the time when our society was united by a common set of values based on a belief in God is long gone. Is it hopelessly optimistic to believe that Man can create an ethical framework based on a belief in individual responsibility and mutual respect, or are those secular values a much a better guide than any sectarian dogma or religious text? Can a post-religious society be a moral society, and if so, whose morals will we live by?

With Melanie Philips, Michael Portillo, Claire Fox and Clifford Longley.

18/05/201120110521
18/11/200920091121Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor, Melanie Phillips and Michael Portillo cross-examine witnesses.

Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has apologised to the thousands of child migrants taken from the UK to Australia after the war, often without their parents' consent. No one in the current government was involved in the policy, which ended in 1970 and Kevin Rudd wasn't even born when it started. For some, such declarations are at best meaningless and at worst offensive. By expressing contrition for other people's behaviour, does it make a mockery of the very notion of apology?

From politicians to celebrities, the culture of the public apology has been gaining ground. But how do we measure the value of these gestures? When should we say sorry and what should we apologise for?

With:

Douglas Murray

Author and commentator

Professor Aaron Lazare

Author of On Apology, Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist

Professor Kathryn Ecclestone

Professor of Education and Social Inclusion

Laurie Humphries

A child migrant - sent from the UK to Australia in 1947.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor, Melanie Phillips, Michael Portillo.

19/01/201120110122They call it Blue Monday - January 24th - the unhappiest day of the year. Christmas seems a long time ago, but the bills for it are dropping on the mat, we've failed at all our New Year's resolutions, the weather is awful and all we've got to look forward to is February. But do not despair, our government is coming to the rescue. Politicians are so worried about our state of mind it was their New Year's resolution to do something about it.

On January 5th was the first meeting of the "Measuring National Well-being Advisory Forum" and the Office of National Statistics has just started a consultation on making general well-being (GWB) a key national statistic, alongside the more traditional things like Gross Domestic Product. Setting aside the question can you measure happiness - the moral question is should you?

Money isn't the key to happiness and perhaps we should see ourselves as more than just units of economic production and consumption. But is it the job of the state to concern itself with our emotional life and build that in to policy making? A lot of what makes us happy as individuals may not be very good for us, our fellow man, or society as a whole. Will we start being fed a very particular one-size fits all view of happiness and "the good life"? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is all very well, but should happiness be an end in itself? Shouldn't we be asking what we as individuals can to do make other people's lives better, rather than asking what the state can do to make us happier?

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

Witnesses: Professor Lord Richard Layard, Director, the Centre for Economic Performance, LSE

Simon Blackburn, Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge

Anthony Seldon, Master, Wellington College

Phillip Hodson, Psychotherapist and author who popularised 'phone-in' therapy in his role as Britain's first 'agony uncle'.

Should the government measure our national happiness?

19/11/200820081122 Melanie Philips, Michael Portillo, Kenan Malik and Claire Fox cross-examine witnesses.
20/04/201120110423Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.
20/10/201020101023After months of warnings, the UK's "age of austerity" will begin in earnest with the government's announcement of the results of its Spending Review. This week the Moral Maze asks, if we've got so little money, should we continue to give state benefits to those who don't really need the money? If it's morally justified to cut child benefit for higher rate tax payers to protect the poor in society, what other universal benefits should we look at? Is it time to make the welfare state just for the poor? Will an age of austerity help us to ask more fundamental questions about our own and society's priorities; to re-set our moral compass. Or will it inevitably lead to judgementalism and scapegoating? Combative, provocative and engaging live debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Clifford Longley, Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox and Melanie Philips.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

21/07/201020100724The Prime Minister this week launched his big idea - the Big Society. David Cameron says he wants to make society stronger by getting more people working together to run their own affairs locally. It aims to put more power and responsibility into the hands of families, neighbourhoods and locally-based communities. The idea is that all of these will take more action at a local level, with more freedom to do things the way they want. Is this a way of re-engaging people with civic society, to remind them that they are more than just individual consumers of services provided by others and that they can't just close their front door on their responsibilities to their community? But can volunteers really replace many of the services provided by local authorities and other state agencies? Or is this just a way of providing them on the cheap - a bit of window dressing to make us feel a bit better about the enormous cuts in public services? More fundamentally are we undermining local democracy and transferring power to unelected/self appointed "volunteers?" Should we all do more? Must we all do more? That's the Moral Maze.

Michael Buerk chairs with Michael Portillo, Melanie Philips, Matthew Taylor and Claire Fox.

Witnesses:

Mark Littlewood, Director General at the IEA (a free market think tank)

Philip Blond, Director of the think tank ResPublica

Silla Carron, Chair of the tenants Association at Clarence Way Estate.

Nick Pearce, Former Head of the No10 Policy Unit.

With Claire Fox, Clifford Longley, Anne McElvoy and Matthew Taylor.

21/10/200920091024Michael Buerk and the team travel to Derby University for an edition of the programme recorded on campus. He is joined by panel members Claire Fox, Melanie Phillips, Clifford Longley and Matthew Taylor.

Higher education is more popular than ever; universities are crammed to the rafters as they struggle to achieve the aim of 50 per cent of young people getting a university education. The increased popularity of vocational degrees has changed the culture of academia. But students now have to balance the increasing cost of getting a degree with uncertain job prospects when they graduate. So there's no better time to ask the question, 'what are universities for and who are they for?'

Witnesses:

Professor Dennis Hayes

Professor of Education, University of Derby. Founder of the campaign group Academics for Academic Freedom (AFAF)

Professor John Coyne

Vice Chancellor, University of Derby and chairman of skills and enterprise Think Tank CFE, which is an independent specialist in skills employment and economic development.

Greg James

University of Nottingham medical student, anti-tuition fees campaigner.

Andrew Long

Young entrepreneur and CEO of Ten, named one of the top 100 fastest-growing companies in the UK by the Sunday Times.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Melanie Philips, Michael Portillo, Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor.

22/07/200920090725Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips, Clifford Longley and Matthew Taylor cross-examine witnesses.

The Moral Maze considers 'the holiday'.

It's that time of year when we can't wait to get away from work for a couple of weeks. Our one opportunity a year to jet off to far-flung and exotic destinations spewing carbon all over the place, where the human rights record is often appalling, to be waited on hand and foot by some poor waiter who is only paid a couple of dollars a day and to stay in a hotel where their idea of an environmental policy is to take our rubbish to a landfill for local people to pick over it, rather than dumping it at sea.

Is it time we re-calculated the true cost of that self indulgent holiday? Should we stay at home to help the UK economy? And should we think of improving the mind rather than our tan?

The witnesses are:

Leo Hickman

Author of The Final Call: In Search of the True Cost of our Holidays

James Panton

Manifesto Club; Campaign to Celebrate the Freedom of Flying

Cole Moreton

Journalist, currently writing a book about Englishness

Jonathan Lorie

Director of Travellers Tales Festival, an international festival of travel writing and photography.

With Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips, Clifford Longley and Matthew Taylor.

23/02/201120110226Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

24/02/201020100227With Melanie Phillips, Michael Portillo, Clifford Longley and Kenan Malik.
24/03/201020100327
24/11/201020101127Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips, Clifford Longley and Matthew Taylor.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

25/02/200920090228 With Clifford Longley, Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor and Melanie Phillips.

Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Clifford Longley, Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor and Melanie Phillips cross-examine witnesses.

Britain has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in Western Europe, so what role should morality play in sex education? A new government leaflet advising parents on how to talk to their children about sex and relationships warns against trying to convince teenagers of what is right and wrong because it could discourage them from being open. Is this sensible practical advice? Is giving teenagers the room to form their own moral judgements about sex the right way to cut teenage parenthood?

25/05/201120110528
25/11/200920091128 With Michael Portillo, Matthew Taylor, Melanie Phillips and Clifford Longley.

As Belle de Jour, her blog titillated and fascinated the press in equal measure; now Belle de Jour has outed herself and the reality hasn't disappointed the commentators. Research scientist Dr Brooke Magnanti, 33, revealed she was the person behind the blog; she had turned to prostitution while an impoverished student.

The tale of Belle de Jour seems to encapsulate our moral ambiguity to prostitution. As a tall, blonde, attractive, intelligent, middle-class woman she commands flattering profiles; only when Dr Magnanti claimed that she enjoyed her work did she draw any kind of criticism. Is this another example of the myth of the 'happy hooker' that allows us on the one hand to get a vicarious thrill from a glamorous world where sex is on tap, but on the other to look down on a disease-ridden underclass that sell their bodies to fund a drug habit. Should we use the law to draw a clearer moral line between those who use prostitutes and those who are victims of the trade?

Witnesses:

Beverley Carter

Founder of charity Bridging the Gap and former prostitute.

Dawn Annandale

Editor Lifetimes Magazine and former call girl, author of Call Me Elizabeth: Wife, Mother, Escort and Call Me Madam: From Mother To Madam.

Dr Belinda Brooks Gordon

Reader in Psychology and Social Policy, whose main research interests address psychological, legal, and social policy questions on sexuality, gender and the law.

Anna van Heeswijk

Campaigns coordinator Object, an organisation which challenges 'sex object culture'.

26/11/200820081129 With Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik, Michael Portillo and Melanie Phillips.

Michael Buerk chairs a debate on the moral questions behind the week's news. Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik, Michael Portillo and Melanie Phillips cross-examine witnesses.

27/04/201120110430
27/10/201020101030The thousands of secret documents published by Wikileaks detail an horrific catalogue of torture, friendly fire deaths and casual killings and have given us an insight into the brutal chaos after the fall of Saddam Hussein and how ill prepared the allies were to deal with it. But at what cost? The American and British governments say the leaks are grossly irresponsible and risk endangering the lives of soldiers. Some argue the revelations will even encourage more terrorist attacks against the West.

So how do we balance the right to know the truth against the damage that might be caused by publishing it? Are the leakers champions of freedom, liberty and democracy against Big Brother states, or just conspiracy theorists who've set themselves up as unaccountable arbiters of truth? Is transparency the disinfectant that will keep us all clean and pure or are the endless demands for transparency and freedom of information a substitute for searching out the truth? Will an endless cascade of disclosure with no context undermine our trust in civic society and if so, what will replace it?

Combative, provocative and engaging live debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox and Clifford Longley.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

28/03/201220120331
28/10/200920091031The war crimes trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has opened at the UN-backed International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. He faces 11 counts of genocide, including complicity in the Srebrenica massacre in which 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed. It was one of the worst acts of atrocity in Europe since the Second World War. But is what we are about to see justice or revenge - A show trial organised by the victors, with TV coverage broadcast throughout the world, and eagerly viewed, especially in the Balkans. Can there ever be any morally certain and globally acceptable definition of what constitutes a war crime or will pragmatism and real politique always get in the way?

Witnesses:

John Laughland

Author of Travesty: The Trial of Slobodan Milosevic and the Corruption of International Justice, and

A History of Political Trials from Charles I to Saddam Hussein.

Geoffrey Nice

The British QC who led the prosecution of the Serbian leader Slobodan Milosovic

Professor David Chandler

Professor of International Relations at the Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster and editor of the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding

Mark Ellis

Executive Director, International Bar Association.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Claire Fox, Melanie Phillips, Michael Portillo, Matthew Taylor.

30/06/201020100703The abject failure of the England team was bad enough, but the fact that they boasted some of the most highly paid players in the world certainly rubs salt into the wound. Footballer's salaries have long been an easy target for commentators; they may be absurdly wealthy and earn more in a year than the vast majority of us will earn in a lifetime, but is there anything inherently wrong or immoral in that?

After footballers, bankers have been the favourite target for our envy and the financial crisis and cut backs have added many more to that list. Extreme disparities in pay rates between the top and the bottom of an organisation are said to breed unhappiness and to be particularly corrosive to social cohesion, but should we make a link between virtuous effort and just reward and if so, how? Is it just a question of egalitarianism or justice? Is the answer more radical than that? Is it time to abandon our "because I'm worth it" attitudes to pay and start to value things like personal challenge, loyalty and service? Do we need a cultural critique of the assumption that it's only money, power and status that can make us happy? Or do market forces really bring out the best in us? Reward, value, worth and greed. It must be the Moral Maze.

Michael Buerk chairs with Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor, Michael Portillo and Clifford Longley.

Witnesses:

Daniel Pink, author of several books including The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Gordon Taylor, Chief Executive of the Professional Footballers Association, and former footballer.

Helen Kersley, Economic Researcher at the New Economics Foundation, author of a recent report called 'A Bit Rich'

Heather MacGregor, Managing Director at Taylor Bennett, an executive search firm.

Michael Buerk chairs. With Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor, Michael Portillo, Clifford Longley.

31/03/201020100403Are the Baby Boomers the most selfish generation history has ever known? The 11 million children of the post-war baby boom are marching towards retirement. There are more over 60s than under 16s and their numbers and the demands they make on our society and how we're going to pay for them are questions we're only just starting to confront. They've grown up with all the benefits of the welfare state and NHS, made a profit on their homes and have good company pensions. Should they have used their demographic good fortune to build for the future, rather than leaving the next generation to pick up the tab? There used to be a contract between the generations - a moral duty, that we'd leave the world a better place for our children, that they'll live better lives than us. Edmund Burke's described a nation is "a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born". But what's the baby boomers' legacy to the next generation? Climate meltdown, a wrecked economy and very large bill in the post. Do we have a moral obligation to the next generation and if so, what is it?

Michael Buerk chairs. With Claire Fox, Michael Portillo, Clifford Longley and Kenan Malik.

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.

Authors Of Our Own Misfortune?20161019

This week the Moral Maze asks "in a society where resources are scarce, should we take account of whether people have contributed to their own misfortune?" The issue has been raised by Phil Kay, the assistant chief constable of Leicestershire. Like other public bodies, the force is struggling to stretch resources to cover demand. He told his local newspaper that he would "far rather" officers focus on preventing crime and protecting the public than spend their time investigating break-ins where carelessness may have played a role. In time-honoured fashion Mr Kay says his remarks have been taken out of context, but does he have a point? This week it's been reported that some NHS authorities are considering closing hospitals to meet a £22 billion savings target. At the same time demand from patients has never been greater. Is making an explicit connection between our lifestyle choices and the chances of getting treatment for the consequences of them the most just and moral way to allocate resource? Or is it the worst kind of victim blaming? There are already many ways in which we reward so called "good behaviour" - no claims bonuses, reduced premiums in return for fitting better security, tax breaks for pension savings. Wearable technology like fitness trackers will make looking after ourselves even more feasible in the future, so why not punish "bad behaviour"? We already have sin taxes, and they're called that for a reason. When the cost of our collective sins is so great, is it morally justifiable to expect the rest of society to pick up the bill for our moral blameworthiness? Or is the very notion a kind of mass hardening of the heart that weakens the bonds of our collective humanity?

This week the Moral Maze asks ""in a society where resources are scarce, should we take account of whether people have contributed to their own misfortune?"" The issue has been raised by Phil Kay, the assistant chief constable of Leicestershire. Like other public bodies, the force is struggling to stretch resources to cover demand. He told his local newspaper that he would ""far rather"" officers focus on preventing crime and protecting the public than spend their time investigating break-ins where carelessness may have played a role. In time-honoured fashion Mr Kay says his remarks have been taken out of context, but does he have a point? This week it's been reported that some NHS authorities are considering closing hospitals to meet a £22 billion savings target. At the same time demand from patients has never been greater. Is making an explicit connection between our lifestyle choices and the chances of getting treatment for the consequences of them the most just and moral way to allocate resource? Or is it the worst kind of victim blaming? There are already many ways in which we reward so called ""good behaviour"" - no claims bonuses, reduced premiums in return for fitting better security, tax breaks for pension savings. Wearable technology like fitness trackers will make looking after ourselves even more feasible in the future, so why not punish ""bad behaviour""? We already have sin taxes, and they're called that for a reason. When the cost of our collective sins is so great, is it morally justifiable to expect the rest of society to pick up the bill for our moral blameworthiness? Or is the very notion a kind of mass hardening of the heart that weakens the bonds of our collective humanity?

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 Displeasure2013032020130323On 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.

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."

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?

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.

Culture Of Entitlement20111203They're calling it the biggest strike in a generation. Around 2 million public sector workers are expected to walk out on Wednesday, including teachers, health workers and immigration staff. More than 20,000 schools face closure, coastguard services will be restricted, benefits centres shut and emergency plans have been put in place at Heathrow to cope with the cues for passport control. The strike is in protest at plans to make workers contribute an extra 3% towards their pension and raise the retirement age to 67. The strike comes a day after what's being called "Black Tuesday" when the Chancellor George Osborne reveals just how bad our national economic prospects are. Of course no one wants to work longer and pay more towards their pension, but state sector pensions cost £32 billion a year - more than the police, prisons and courts combined. In times of such extreme economic peril and austerity is the duty of all us - not just the bankers - to ask what are we entitled to get from the state? The majority of public sector pensioners are less than £5,000; hardly excessive, but from the perspective of the 65% of workers in the private sector who have no pension at all Wednesday's strike might look like greed. For a long time we assumed that increasing people's sense of entitlement - to benefits, core public services, decent pensions - was a sign of moral progress but should we instead think the reverse? That we need to lower people's sense of entitlement and tackle the culture of dependency not just to make the economy more dynamic and services more affordable, but to strengthen the moral sinews of society? When Europe is looking to China to bail it out perhaps it's time to listen to the words of Jin Liqun, the chairman of China's sovereign wealth fund, who's blamed the Eurozone problems on the accumulated troubles of the worn out welfare society that, in his words, encourages sloth and indolence.

Witnesses: Andrew Harrop - General Secretary, Fabian Society; Dominic Lawson -Columnist on The Independent - former editor of The Spectator and the Sunday Telegraph; Patrick Nolan -Chief Economist, Reform; Sarah Veale -Head of Equality and Employment Rights Department, TUC.

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by David Aaronovitch with Claire Fox, Clifford Longley, Anne McElvoy and Matthew Taylor.

David Aaronovitch and guests explore the moral implications of the public sector strike.

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.

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.

Euro Crisis20110928Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Claire Fox, Kenan Malik, Michael Portillo and Matthew Taylor.

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

Euro Crisis20111001Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.
Forgiveness20131211As 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 Expression2014070220140705What are the limits of freedom of expression?

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.

Friendship20111015In other circumstances, being loyal to a longstanding friend would be hailed as a positive character trait. Liam Fox has just discovered that is not necessarily the case in politics - especially if you're the defence secretary. Mr Fox has maintained he's done nothing wrong, but has apologised for allowing distinctions to be blurred between his professional responsibilities and personal loyalties to his friend Adam Werritty. Senior civil servants are carrying out an investigation to see if ministerial codes of conduct on conflicts of interest have been breached. The affair raises important questions about the kind of politicians we want. In our quest for transparency and moral blamelessness are we in danger of imprisoning our politicians in a Westminster bubble, sterilised from the influences and realities of the world outside? It also raises the question for all of us, what are the moral boundaries of friendship? The nature and obligations of friendship has occupied philosophers down the centuries. Aristotle regarded friendship as essential to the good life, but it can also cloud and call in to question our judgment. It's easy to throw around charges of nepotism and we all pay lip service to the modern ideals of a meritocratic society, but in tough economic times, what is wrong with giving a helping hand to a friend? And would bankers have so nakedly pursued their own self-interest, rather than those of their company, if it had been a family firm? In a world that relies increasingly on social networks and connections does it sound hopelessly old fashioned to say that we cross a moral boundary when we mix business and friendship and ask someone to offer practical help as well as sympathetic ear? And when it comes to our family, our children, how many of us would balk at the idea of doing anything we could to further their interests? How to win friends and influence people - the Moral Maze.

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

Witnesses:

Professor Matthew Flinders, Department of Politics, University of Sheffield

Mark Vernon, Author of the Meaning of Friendship

Carole Stone, Networking 'expert' and author 'Networking: The Art of Making Friends'

John Drummond, Founder Integrity Works

Producer: Phil Pegum.

The moral boundaries of friendship. Chaired by Michael Buerk.

Gay Marriage20120317The government will this week launch a public consultation on its proposals to allow gay marriage. The idea has brought forth a torrent of opposition from many senior church leaders who argue the institution is one of the building blocks of society and that the state does not have the moral authority to dismantle the universally understood meaning and purpose of marriage. Earlier this year the Pope said gay marriage threatens to undermine "the future of humanity itself" and in a speech to US bishops in Rome last Friday he said the Christian vision of human sexuality was now in crisis around the world with "powerful political and cultural currents seeking to alter the legal definition of marriage". The Universal Declaration on Human Rights defines marriage as a right which applies to men and women and that "the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state". But the authority of the church, our understanding of human sexuality and our definitions of what a family is have all changed fundamentally in the past 60 years. Of course there are those who say that's part of the problem and there are also those who see the issue in the simple terms of equality - why should gay people be denied something that heterosexuals have as a right? But there are also many people of faith who welcome the idea that the sacrament of marriage should be open to as many people as possible because it's the best way establish long lasting, stable loving relationships whether children are being raised in them or not. So who should be allowed to marry?

Witnesses: Dr Austen Ivereigh - Catholic Voices; Ben Summerskill - Chief Executive Stonewall; Dr David Landrum - Director of Public Policy Evangelical Alliance; Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner- Movement of Reform for Judaism.

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Anne McElvoy, Kenan Malik and Clifford Longley.

Should gay people be allowed to marry, or will that irreparably damage society?

Genetics And Education20131030For 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.

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?

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?2011022320110226 (R4)Have we forgotten the meaning of Charity? Topical debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

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.

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?

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?

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

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

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

Human Rights Act20111008
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

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.

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

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.

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.

Migration20131016Italy 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.

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 and 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.

Moral Authority Of Institutions2012102420121027Bloody Sunday, Leveson, Hillsborough, Chilcott, Mid Staffordshire NHS, Savile - just some of the more notable examples of public inquiries of the last few years and hardly a week goes by without a call for another hearing into some perceived scandal or injustice. MPs, police, journalists, NHS carers, local government, the church - it seems there's hardly any major institution left in this country that hasn't been undermined by scandal and in the name of 'transparency' many institutions seem willing, even eager, to expose their inner workings and problems. At the heart of these cases there are of course victims who need answers and redress and we're told that by exposing these institutions or organisations to transparent public scrutiny "lessons will be learnt". Institutions are an essential component of civil society; a focus for shared values and solidarity; can we expect our institutions to function properly in an atmosphere of constant critical scrutiny? Has this ever growing clamour for inquiries, often fuelled by freedom of information requests, just undermined their moral integrity? In our pursuit of transparency have we sacrificed the moral authority of some of the very organisations that are vital to the moral wellbeing of our society? In an age dominated by new social networks, is this process an essential part of re-defining social solidarity or is the passion for openness actually generating a kind of corrosive suspicion that destroys trust not just in institutions but in our day-to-day lives?

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

Witnesses: Nicholas Rengger - Professor of Political Theory & International Relations, University of St Andrews, Phillip Blond - Respublica, Dr Karl Mackie - Chief Executive, Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution and Oliver Kamm - Leader Writer and columnist for The Times.

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

Moral Panics2019031320190316 (R4)The rise in the number of fatal stabbings in recent months has generated big headlines and heated political debate. Teenage knife crime is high on the national agenda. There is broad agreement that something has to change but not as much agreement about what that is. Should there be more police officers on the streets? more surrender bins? more use of stop and search? more weapons sweeps? tougher sentences? Do we need a knife crime ‘tsar’ to co-ordinate it all? What about the role of schools and youth clubs? But before we start writing policy prescriptions, let’s ask a more basic question: are we seeing a long-overdue response to a desperate and tragic situation, or a nation in the grip of full-blown moral panic? The phrase ‘moral panic’ - which was popularised by sociologist Stanley Cohen in his 1972 book about mods and rockers - is nearly always used pejoratively to denote an over-the-top expression of public anxiety about the lowering of moral standards. Yet it could be argued that a moral panic is like a whistling kettle - it’s a warning that things have come to the boil. Perhaps we shouldn’t speak of moral panics but of moral calls to action – opportunities to get money spent and policies reformed on important issues that are usually below the national radar. Or perhaps such societal soul-searchings are just spasms of empathy, emotional outbursts that take no account of long-term trends, get in the way of clear-eyed policy-making and divert resources from duller but worthier causes. Are moral panics good for society?

Producer: Dan Tierney

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

Live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. #moralmaze

Morality And The Bottom Line20131023When 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".

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 Gambling2013022720130302Is 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 and 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.

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.

Morality Of International Trade20170201

If you want to watch the reality of modern politics being played out in real time, you could do worse than visit the Parliament petitions website. The petition to prevent Donald Trump from making a State Visit to the UK has now got well over a million signatures. Rather like the spinning figures on a petrol pump, you can see the total rising by the hundreds every minute as people register their moral outrage at the President's executive order banning travel to the US from certain Muslim majority countries. What price should we, as a nation, be willing to pay to make it clear to a foreign nation that their policies are unacceptable? Publicly humiliating Donald Trump by withdrawing, or downgrading, his state visit would certainly send him a message and might win us the equivalent of a diplomatic round of applause around the world, but what impact would that have on our ability to negotiate a favourable trade deal with the US? Would that be a price worth paying? If you draw the line at Donald Trump, how do you feel about the UK signing a £100m arms deal with Turkey - a country that, according to some human rights groups, jails more journalists than any other? These are questions we'll increasingly have to answer in a post-Brexit world where we need to sign deals to replace the trade that might be lost on leaving the EU. People talk euphemistically of "holding their noses" and "supping with a long spoon" in the national interest, but how far should you morally compromise to keep the bottom line in the black? Producer: Phil Pegum.

Nhs Patient Data20111210The government has announced new plans to open up the NHS to the life-science industry. The Prime Minister said the health service should be working hand in glove with the industry and that could involve the sharing of the huge wealth of patient data held by the NHS. The idea is said to be win-win; supporting the industry, which is one of the most important in the UK worth £50bn a year and employing 160,000 people and at the same time will get new drugs in to NHS hospitals more quickly. But at what cost to our privacy? Drugs companies already have a certain amount of access to anonymised patient data held by hospitals, but the proposals would widen this to included GP records. Names would still be withheld, but critics argue that data such as postcodes could still be accessed making links to individuals easy to make. We are open with our doctors because we're confident that our privacy will be protected, but with high profile data breaches from organisations such as banks, local authorities and various government departments, are we really happy having such sensitive material, including things like lifestyles, shared? And what about the issues of informed consent? Should drug companies be allowed to use the data in fields that some people might find morally objectionable - for example in foetal stem cell research? Is it our duty to share this information freely, not only for the potential benefit of our nearest and dearest, but also all of human kind? Or is this a commercial Trojan Horse being driven right in to the heart of the NHS for the benefit of the multi-billion pound drug industry and its shareholders?

Witnesses: Professor John Harris -University of Manchester, Medical Ethicist, Sir Mark Walport -Director, Welcome Trust, Nick Pickles -Director, Big Brother Watch, Rebecca Wood -Chief Executive, Alzheimer's Research UK.

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Clifford Longley, Kenan Malik, Michael Portillo and Melanie Phillips.

Should drug companies be given more access to NHS patient data? Michael Buerk chairs.

Nimbyism And Hs22013013020130202The government has announced its preferred route for the northern section for the high speed rail line - HS2 - and predictably it has attracted howls of protest from those likely to be impacted. The route from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds will undoubtedly cut through some of the richest - in both senses of the word - countryside in England. But, according to its supporters, that's a price worth paying. To them HS2 is not just any old infrastructure scheme; it's a national priority that will benefit the whole country, creating a hundred of thousand jobs and helping to tackle the North South divide.

You may, or may not believe those claims, but many thousands of people will suffer for decades to come as we go through the planning and construction process and promises of financial compensation will sound very hollow. How far are they entitled to resist what will benefit the wider nation? Whether it's HS2, a third runway for Heathrow, nuclear power or wind farms, how should we make a moral calculation between the needs of the majority and the suffering and losses of the minority? And at a time of economic crisis should our priority always be jobs and GDP, or in the drive for development and progress are we in danger of bulldozing other intangible values like happiness and living the Good Life?

Engaging debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. Chaired by David Aaronovitch, with Claire Fox, Anne McElvoy, Matthew Taylor and Giles Fraser.

Peace, Justice And Morality20170208

How far should we be willing to forgive and forget past crimes in the interests of building lasting peace? The issue has been a running sore in Northern Ireland politics despite the Good Friday peace agreement. The Police Service of Northern Ireland has a special unit, the Legacy Investigations Branch, to review more than 3000 murders during the Troubles. But there are allegations it is prioritising re-opening the killings where soldiers from the British Army were involved, over those carried out by terrorists - the majority of which were by Republicans. There are practical issues of getting evidence for crimes that happened so long ago and the cost of investigations, but the moral questions are harder to answer. How do you weigh the right and the need of the families of victims to get justice for their loved ones, against the need to move on and find peace for the whole community? A general amnesty might solve the narrow question, but does that serve the interests of justice? And can you find reconciliation and peace if people feel they've been denied justice? As we move further away from the conflict, does the current generation who lived through it (and in some cases took and active role in it) have a responsibility to set aside their history in the interests of peace for the next generation? These are questions for Northern Ireland, but also around the world - in Cyprus, where there are renewed hopes for a peace deal that can united the island; in Columbia where, in a referendum, the people rejected a peace deal between the government and Farc rebels that would have ended the 52-year-long conflict that has killed more than 220,000 people; and in the Balkans where the truth and reconciliation process is struggling. What price peace? Producer: Phil Pegum.

Political Discourse20161109

When the actor Kevin Spacey was filming the current series of House of Cards, with its brutally cynical take on American politics, he said he was worried that they may have gone too far. As the US presidential election reaches its vituperative climax, he now concedes they haven't gone far enough. The invective has reached new heights this week with Donald Trump claiming the election is being rigged and Hilary Clinton countering that he's unhinged and dangerous. Has political discourse ever been as poisonous? It's not as if we can look down from the moral high ground. When three High Court judges found that Parliament should have a say on Brexit their photos were splashed across the front pages with one newspaper headline branding them "enemies of the people". Ours is not, of course, the first age to fret about the quality of political discourse. Plato and Socrates did their fair share of lamenting, but the digital age has intensified the political cycle and ratcheted up the stakes. Is this all just part of the theatre of current affairs - an entertainment that we all are knowingly a part of and can tune in and out of at will? Or is a political discourse in which there is no longer any presumption of good faith between opponents not just morally bankrupt, but also dangerous? Is this a healthy revival of robust political engagement, or have we abandoned moderation as a moral virtue?

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

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.

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

Privacy20161012

For Donald Trump it was an 11 year old dusty tape that appeared from the archives. For Sam Allardyce it was a sting by undercover reporters. For the Olympic gymnast Louis Smith it was a video leaked on to the internet. All of them conversations they thought were private becoming embarrassingly public, with varying degrees of consequences. We all say things in private we wouldn't want made public, so what right to privacy should those in the public eye be entitled? Is it a simple case that we have a right to know if it tells us about the character of people who have power or who are asking us to trust them? If that's the case how do explain the myriad of examples from minor sporting celebrities to victims of stings by fake sheiks? Should we put them in the same category? We may think their views are unattractive, even offensive, but shouldn't they be allowed to express them in private, like the rest of us, with some confidence that they'll remain private? What right do we have to know? Would the world be a better place if we never said anything privately we wouldn't want made public? In our clamour to expose and condemn are we creating an unhealthy reality gap between what our leaders and politicians are allowed to say and what they actually think? Or has the digital age rightly blown apart the tight and elitist clubbable privacy that was once so much part of our society? Chaired by Michael Buerk with Anne McElvoy, Michael Portillo, Giles Fraser and Matthew Taylor. Witnesses are Prof Steven Barnett, Prof Josh Cohen, Paul Connew and Tom Chatfield.

Private Eduacation2013022020130223Deputy 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.

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?20131113The 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.

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.

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.

Tax Avoidance20120324It's budget week and as usual the papers are dominated by stories of people who, depending on your perspective, are being taxed too much, or those who are not being taxed enough. How and who we tax and how we spend the proceeds is a profoundly moral equation. The current debate over tax avoidance is a perfect example. Tax avoidance (unlike evasion) is perfectly legal, but, according to many politicians and campaigners, it's immoral - a case of the very rich not paying their fair share because they can afford to hire creative tax accountants, while the rest of us good citizens struggle to make ends meet. The rich are different from you and me but why should we require some people to live by a different moral standard just because of the size of their bank balance and where will it lead if we start saying that people who obey the law are acting immorally none the less? At the root of these arguments is our attitude to wealth and with it strong undercurrents of envious wealth-bashing on one side, and contempt for benefit-scrounging underclass idleness on the other. Is wealth moral good, or morally negative? Are our taxes the legitimate price we pay for living in a civilised society that cares for the less well off or an unfair levy on hard work - a form of state sponsored altruism in the name of an artificially constructed version of social solidarity? Is the moral imperative of taxation to be compassionate through the ways in which the state disperses wealth by giving it to the less than productive, or to create as much wealth as possible in the first place without which no-one benefits?

Witnesses: Dr Jamie Whyte - former Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Cambridge, now works in the financial services sector; Paul Morrison - Public Issues Policy Advisor for the Methodist Church in England; Philip Booth - Editorial & Programme Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs and Professor of Insurance & Risk Management at Cass Business School; Richard Murphy - Tax Research UK.

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

Tax avoidance is perfectly legal, but is it immoral? Michael Buerk chairs.

Teaching Moral Values20141029Teaching 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 Advertising20141119You 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.

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.

The Moral Value Of Sport2012080120120804Combative, 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 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?

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

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

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

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

The Moral Worth Of Marriage2011021620110219 (R4)

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.

Who should be allowed to marry?" Debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

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?

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

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

The Morality Of Abortion20120229Department of Health officials are this week starting their inquiry in to allegations in the Daily Telegraph that abortions are being carried out on the basis of gender. Undercover reporters filmed consultations about terminations at a number of clinics around the country. One consultant in Manchester was heard telling a woman who said she wanted to abort a female foetus: "I don't ask questions. If you want a termination, you want a termination". The revelations have re-ignited the debate over reform of the act that legalised abortion in 1967. It's estimated that at least one third of British women will have had an abortion by the time they reach the age of 45. In 2010, there were 189,574 abortions carried out to residents of England and Wales and one third (34%) of those women undergoing abortions had already had one or more previous abortions. The overwhelming majority (98%) of terminations are carried out under the clause that to continue the pregnancy would risk the woman's mental health. Campaigners on one side argue that the law is being interpreted far too liberally, in a way that was never intended or anticipated 45 years ago and that in the early stages of pregnancy abortion is effectively available on demand. On the other side it's said that the allegations of "gendercide" are vastly exaggerated and this is all part of a campaign by the backdoor to make it harder for women to get an abortion. Have we turned what should one of the most profound of moral choices involving life and death into a thoughtless act amounting to little more than routine inconvenience? Or is that an attack on the fundamental liberty of women to have control over their own bodies and to turn the clock back to a time when sexual shame and individual guilt were common currency? How do we balance the moral status of the unborn foetus with rights of women and if it's morally unacceptable to have an abortion on the grounds of gender, why is it OK just because it's inconvenient?

Witnesses: Ann Furedi - Chief Executive of BPAS; Elaine Storkey - President of Tear Fund and founding member of Restored, a charity campaigning about violence against women; Kate Smurthwaite - Feminist activist, comedian and vice chair of Abortion Rights; Mark Bhagwandin - Senior Education for "Life".

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

Michael Buerk and guests examine the moral issues behind abortion.

The Morality Of Abortion20120303Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Melanie Phillips, Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox and Kenan Malik.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

The Morality Of Empathy20170215

The government's decision to end the scheme that let unaccompanied migrant children into the UK has provoked an outcry. Many had hoped that we could offer a home to thousands of child refugees and the closure of the scheme has been branded "shameful". It's hard not to empathise with the bewildered and vulnerable child refugees now stranded in Europe and it's a very natural human reaction to want to do something to help. But what if, in the very act of helping, we make matters worse? The resettlement scheme has been halted because it's feared that it will just encourage child trafficking. In this case, our empathy could be leading to greater harm and suffering. Morally, how useful is the emotion of empathy? It might encourage us to feel compassion - and experiencing that emption may make us feel better about ourselves - but, as Aristotle warned, "we are easily deceived concerning our perceptions when we're in the grip of our emotions." In a difficult world where there are no easy answers, does empathy cloud our judgment? It is morally better to use reason and evidence to decide on the most effective, altruistic course of action? The morality of empathy. Witnesses are Oliver Moody, George Gabriel, Harry Phibbs and Prof Paul Gilbert.

The Morality Of Multiculturalism2011020920110212 (R4)The morality of multiculturalism. Michael Buerk chairs the debate.

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.

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.

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

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

The Morality Of Poverty2013031320130316The 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.

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?

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 Morality Of The Artist And The Art2019030620190309 (R4)“Leaving Neverland”, a two-part TV documentary broadcast this week, details child sex abuse claims against Michael Jackson. The renewed allegations have prompted a debate about whether we should stop listening to his music. Some believe a boycott takes an important moral stand against the late singer’s alleged crimes. To pay any such artist the compliment of our appreciation, they say, is to undermine the victims. Others think the moral character of the artist has no bearing on the worth of the art. In his essay ‘The Death of the Author’, the French literary critic Roland Barthes argues that a book and its creator are entirely unrelated. Is he right? Does a work of art have intrinsic moral value? Or should we reappraise certain works in light of the questionable behaviour and beliefs of the cultural figures that created them? Charles Dickens, who has a worldwide reputation as a compassionate moralist, was also (according to recently-unearthed letters) a ruthless husband who tried to have his wife locked up in a lunatic asylum because "she had outgrown his liking.” Should we judge any public figures (now or in the past) by their private lives and prejudices, or should we rate them instead on their competence and achievements?

Producer: Dan Tierney

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

Live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories. #moralmaze

The Morality Of The F-word20111126Don't take offence, but this week the Moral Maze is talking about the f-word. A 20 year old man has had his conviction for repeatedly swearing at police officers quashed. A High Court judge decided that use of the f- word is now so commonplace that, in the rather quaint legal definition, it could not cause "harassment, alarm or distress" to those who heard it. Is he right? Should we all be a bit more thick skinned about this? How many of us still reach for the smelling salts when we overhear bad language on the street or in the media? The sight of an 89 year old Baroness caught, on the floor of the House of Lords, flashing a V-sign at a fellow peer of the realm, may have raised eyebrows but there's a serious issue here. Are we allowing a coarsening of society and a debasing of the standards that underpin a civil society? Have we become too tolerant of this kind of thing, or just more censorious? How should we define what language or behaviour is offensive and should it always be in the eye of the beholder? FIFA president Sepp Blatter may have been naïve about the problem of racism in football, but how many of us, in the heat of the moment, haven't said something we regret and which would be best dealt with immediately with a face to face apology rather than in the court? Much of what passed for humour in the 1970's would now probably be regarded as "hate speech" and end up with a criminal charge of racism. Has this made us a more tolerant society or a society that is less willing to tolerate?

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

Witnesses:

Dr Stuart Waiton - Lecturer in Criminology at Abertay University in Dundee, and co-founder of the group Take a Liberty (Scotland)

Jack Gardener - Founder Room 7 cards

Vivien Patterson - Mediawatch-uk

Mary Ann Sieghart - Journalist and patron of the National Campaign for Courtesy.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

The Morality Of The Press20111116The Leveson inquiry into the culture and ethics of our press opened this week. In the wake of so many scandals has time finally been called on the industry that for so long has been drinking in the last chance saloon? Defenders of the press say any moves to impose external policing and regulation will threaten freedom of speech and undermine the vital role a free press plays in a democratic society. But why should we treat our press differently from any other industry that's key part of society? Broadcasting, energy, water - they all have external regulators. Is it still tenable to argue that the press is somehow different, special and should be exempt, when at the same time it operates within a climate that thinks it's acceptable to hack in to the mobile phone of a murdered teenage girl? And what about the noble calling of journalism itself? Has the financial pressure on the industry created a culture where ethics and morality come a poor second to doing whatever it takes to get a story that will sell? If we want to reset the moral compass of journalists is time for hacks to consider swearing the equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath? Or are we actually looking through the wrong end of the telescope. Do we get the press we deserve and are the people we should be questioning are those you buy, read and enjoy the stories that have prompted the Leveson inquiry? The Moral Maze - the morality of the press.

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

Witnesses:

Steven Barnett - Professor of Communications, University of Westminster

Ian Collins - Radio broadcaster - Formerly with TalkSPORT

Simon Jenkins - Journalist and Author, Former Editor of The Times and London Evening Standard

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen - Research Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford and Assistant Professor of Communications, University of Roskilde in Denmark.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

The Morality Of The Press20111119
The Psychology Of Morality20161123

Go on - admit it. You like to feel you're above average. Don't worry. We all like to feel we're somehow special - that our gifts make us stand out from - and above - the crowd. Psychologists refer to this phenomenon as positive illusion. It's the sort of self-deception that helps maintain our self-esteem; a white lie we tell ourselves. The classic example is driving: the majority of people regard themselves as more skilful and less risky than the average driver. But research just published shows that this characteristic isn't confined to skills like driving. Experiments carried out by psychologists at London's Royal Holloway University found most people strongly believe they are just, virtuous and moral and yet regard the average person as - well, how shall we put it politely? Let's just say - distinctly less so. Virtually all the those taking part irrationally inflated their moral qualities. Worse, the positive illusion of moral superiority is much stronger and more prevalent than any other form of positive illusion. Now, as a programme that's been testing our nation's moral fibre for more than 25 years, we feel this is something we're uniquely qualified to talk about. Well, we would wouldn't we? So, if we can't entirely rely on our own calibration to judge a person's moral worth, how should we go about it? Is the answer better and clearer rules, a kind of updated list of commandments? There might need to be a lot more than ten though. Does legal always mean moral? In a world that is becoming increasingly fractious, being less morally judgmental sounds attractive, but if we accept that morality is merely a matter of cognitive bias, do we take the first step on the road to moral relativism? The Moral Maze - making moral judgements so you don't have to. Witnesses are David Oderberg, Michael Frohlich, Anne Atkins and Julian Savulescu.

The Ring Of Gyges2013030620130309Scientists 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.

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

The Summer Of 201620160803

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk.

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

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

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 Regimes2011020220110205 (R4)Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

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.

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

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

University Admissions20120222Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox and Clifford Longley.

Combative debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories.

University Admissions20120225
Us Presidential Election20161102

On the afternoon of Thursday 19th November 1863, the American President, Abraham Lincoln, delivered what has become perhaps the most important speech in American history. Lincoln was dedicating a National Cemetery for the 50,000 men who'd been killed in the Civil War battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. His address was only 272 words long, but it has become one of the greatest and most influential statements of a national moral purpose "that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." America has always seen its Constitution and the Declaration of Independence not just as foundational documents, but as statements of moral purpose. America was to be the "shining city on a hill", a light unto the other nations of the world. At a time of national crisis, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address was a reaffirmation of those founding principles that all men are created equal and share rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This November the American people have to choose between two people bidding to step in to Lincoln's presidential shoes: 'Crooked Hillary', the machine politician under an FBI investigation, and the narcissistic self-confessed women-abuser Donald Trump. What has gone wrong with America's moral vision? Were the fine words of Lincoln and the Founding Fathers just that - fine words? Has America ever confronted its problems of inequality, race and class? Have big government and bigger corporations betrayed the founding principles of liberty and the American dream? Where is the moral vision of America in this year's presidential election? Chaired by Michael Buerk with Claire Fox, Melanie Phillips, Giles Fraser and Matthew Taylor. Witnesses are Charlie Wolf, James Kirchick, Carol Gould and Erich McElroy.

On the afternoon of Thursday 19th November 1863, the American President, Abraham Lincoln, delivered what has become perhaps the most important speech in American history. Lincoln was dedicating a National Cemetery for the 50,000 men who'd been killed in the Civil War battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. His address was only 272 words long, but it has become one of the greatest and most influential statements of a national moral purpose ""that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."" America has always seen its Constitution and the Declaration of Independence not just as foundational documents, but as statements of moral purpose. America was to be the ""shining city on a hill"", a light unto the other nations of the world. At a time of national crisis, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address was a reaffirmation of those founding principles that all men are created equal and share rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This November the American people have to choose between two people bidding to step in to Lincoln's presidential shoes: 'Crooked Hillary', the machine politician under an FBI investigation, and the narcissistic self-confessed women-abuser Donald Trump. What has gone wrong with America's moral vision? Were the fine words of Lincoln and the Founding Fathers just that - fine words? Has America ever confronted its problems of inequality, race and class? Have big government and bigger corporations betrayed the founding principles of liberty and the American dream? Where is the moral vision of America in this year's presidential election? Chaired by Michael Buerk with Claire Fox, Melanie Phillips, Giles Fraser and Matthew Taylor. Witnesses are Charlie Wolf, James Kirchick, Carol Gould and Erich McElroy.

Victim Culture20150617

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

Virtue Signalling20170308

There was a time when publicly standing up to protest at injustices, especially if they didn't affect you personally, was the sign of an upright citizen - the very definition of altruism - a "disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others." Now such expressions of moral outrage are as likely to be dismissed as "virtue signalling" as they are to be applauded. It's a neat and pithy phrase and like all the best neologism seems to capture and distil something in our cultural discourse. It's only been in use for a couple of years. You know the sort of thing - ice bucket challenges, male actors and politicians wearing t-shirts with the slogan "this is what a feminist looks like". Virtue signalling - the practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate our good character or the moral correctness of our beliefs - was only coined a couple of years ago, and has caught on like wild fire. Perhaps because the only thing people seem to like more than virtue signalling is judging other people. To some the phrase deftly skewers an age where politics is driven by narcissism and the echo chamber of social media where being moralistic is more important than being moral? But has what started off as a clever way to win arguments become a lazy put down or mental shortcut to dogmatism? Does accusing others of virtue signalling encourage you not to interrogate your own beliefs? Even if we can't change something we know to be wrong, big collective moral shifts in society have to start somewhere, so is dismissing them as empty gestures a cynical counsel of despair? There was a time when virtue was its won reward. Is that still the case? The morality of virtue signalling.

Witnesses are James Bartholomew, Maya Goodfellow, Dr Jonathan Rowson and Professor Frank Furedi.

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.

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

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