Moral Maze

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

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Richard III
As come backs go, Richard III's has got to rate as possibly miraculous. Vilified for more than 500 years as a psychopathic child killer this week one of history's biggest losers is being paraded through the streets of Leicester as a hero. Some say he's been unfairly traduced by Elizabethan spin doctors, but in any event the Bishop of Leicester said Richard should be buried with the dignity and honour that befits a king of England. The passing of time has certainly helped Richard III, but this is an issue for our times as well. Think Jeremy Clarkson and Boris Johnson - pantomime villains or lovable rogues? How much leeway should personality and charisma allow? How forgiving should we be to those who stand apart from their fellow man by dint of their achievements? Could it be that when it comes to their personal lives we hold them to higher moral standards than we expect of ourselves?
Dátum: 2015-03-26 Idő: 13:08:00
Sex Education
Teaching children about sex is a moral, ethical and emotional minefield, as the latest guidance from the Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education Association has this week demonstrated. The government had announced that it wanted pupils as young as 11 to be taught about sexual consent and had commissioned the PSHE Association to come up with lesson plans. They've just been published and include topics such as pornography, sexual images, sexual consent, rape myths and victim-blaming. The new lessons could be taught in schools after the Easter holiday, although parents would have the right to withdraw their children from the classes and pornography wouldn't be shown to pupils. Are these frank, explicit topics just contributing to the very problem that they're partly designed to address? Are these latest plans outside the proper remit of education or should parents be left to teach their children about such sensitive issues? What should children be taught about sex in school?
Dátum: 2015-03-19 Idő: 10:55:00
The Morality of Social Inclusion
While other countries have their violent social revolutions, we in Britain tend to confine our class conflict to less bloody battles. Which door you're expected to use has long been a bone of contention. The term "tradesman's entrance" may have fallen victim to the forces of class war, but the concept is resurfacing in luxury housing developments. To get planning permission for these projects, the developers are required to include some affordable or social housing. The less well-off tenants are then expected to use separate entrances - so called "poor doors". It's argued that dividing society into the "haves" and "have not's" is a symptom of a much greater harm than being deprived of a 24-hour concierge to salute you when you walk through the door. How should people living in a diverse society relate to and interact with one another? Should it be the business of the state to engineer integration? Do we have a moral duty to mix socially with people who are different from us?
Dátum: 2015-03-12 Idő: 10:51:00
The Morality of the Imagination
When is an idea so objectionable that we should be stopped from expressing it or hearing it? That's the question at the heart of the debate about how Mohammed Emwazi turned from a quiet schoolboy into a psychopathic murderer. The focus has been turned on his time at the Westminster University and the extremist preachers who had been invited to talk there. The government is in the process of drawing up guidance for vice chancellors as part of a new statutory requirement on universities to combat radicalisation on campus. There are many examples of thought or imagination being criminalised. They include: cartoon images of child abuse; the arrests of street preachers; so-called predictive policing. Are we living in more censorious times? Is it simply a matter of distinguishing clearly between thoughts and deeds? Can our thoughts live in a world beyond notions of right and wrong and consequences? Or can thoughts be immoral irrespective of whether they're associated with actions?
Dátum: 2015-03-05 Idő: 11:00:00
Freedom of Expression on the Internet
While the hunt still goes on for the three teenage girls from London believed to be travelling to Syria to join IS there are calls for Twitter and other social media to do more to shut down websites used to disseminate IS propaganda and aid recruitment. One of the missing girls was reportedly following more than 70 Twitter accounts belonging to terrorist fighters or IS sympathisers; IS has deployed social media in the battle for ideas as effectively as it has boots on the ground and there's a terrible, but inescapable irony that they're using one of the values that we hold most dear - freedom of expression -against us. Is it morally inconsistent to defend the rights of publications like Charlie Hebdo, but at the same time demand that the views of those who support IS are supressed? How far should we be willing to sacrifice freedom of speech and our privacy in the fight against terrorists on the internet?
Dátum: 2015-02-26 Idő: 10:45:00
Is it a Moral Duty to Vote?
Is it immoral to be apathetic about politics? The Bishops of the Church of England clearly think so. This week they sent a letter to parishes advising 'Christian men and women how to vote". So we all have a duty to join in the arguments and it's wrong to be a 'don't know'! As the election gets closer, however, the prevailing view seems to be that politicians are a sleazy and self-serving bunch of hypocrites. Whatever the bishops say, at least a third of us won't be voting; half of young people aren't even registered to vote. But when politicians focus their efforts on ingratiating themselves with pensioners (the people who vote the most) we say that's cynical. Should 16-year-olds have the vote? Should voting be made compulsory? Is it a moral duty to vote? Or are there other ways, just as morally cogent, to get involved in the political process?
Dátum: 2015-02-19 Idő: 11:07:00
Muslim Leadership
When an heir to the throne feels moved to step in to a minefield as potentially explosive as Muslim values you know something is amiss. At the weekend Prince Charles, who has been a self-professed admirer of Islam, gave an interview where he expressed alarm at the extent of the radicalisation of young British Muslims.This issue is so profoundly important to the social cohesion of our society that many people, including Muslims, are now asking is there a crisis of moral leadership in Britain’s Muslim community? Where are the powerful leaders, stepping on to the national stage to address these problems and point to solutions? Islam is a diverse faith, but can it really be just a structural problem? Are the leaders there, but finding their voices are being drowned out by an unrelentingly hostile press? Is there something more fundamental about the nature of faith in the public sphere? Or are the majority paying an unfair price for the distortion of their faith by the radicalised few?
Dátum: 2015-02-12 Idő: 12:04:00
Is Inherited Wealth Immoral?
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?
Dátum: 2015-02-05 Idő: 17:30:00
Reality TV
Michael Buerk is back from the jungle for the last in this series of the Moral Maze and so there can be only one subject – the morality of reality TV. Since appearing on our screens in the 1990's, most notably with Big Brother, "reality TV" has evolved into a global phenomenon with such a huge variety of programmes. Shows like the X-Factor and Strictly regularly top the ratings, but are they good for us?Studies show that reality TV fans are very conscious of the extent to which they are watching performances; audiences enjoy debating the merits of participants and often uphold social values and punish poor behavior. Does the seemingly unstoppable tide of reality TV reinforce or dilute society's moral fibre? The Moral Maze.
Dátum: 2014-12-11 Idő: 13:44:00
It's been clear since the vote on Scottish independence that far from ending the question on devolution it was the start of a much bigger debate on how the country is run. How do we create a civic society in which people can flourish? Is there such a thing as too much democracy? Is devolving power a moral imperative that enables more people to be involved in making moral choices about the good society and how to create it? Or will increasing devolution fracture our nation of the common good? Do national institutions like the NHS bring more than just economic efficiencies? Are they a way of binding us in to a set of values beyond self-interest? By devolving power over fundamental core services are we just creating a system where people can not only express their local preferences, but their local prejudices?
Dátum: 2014-12-04 Idő: 11:47:00