- Podcasts del grupo
- Radios del grupo
Morality of the Green Belt
When it comes to talking about home ownership in this country it quickly divides in to the "have's" and "have not's." According to the OECD fewer than half of low to middle income families are now able to afford to buy a house and some campaigners estimate that, by 2020, families earning the National Living Wage would be unable to afford to buy homes in 98 per cent of the country. The answer, according to many, is radical deregulation of the planning laws and building on the greenbelt. 8 million new family homes could be built if just 2% of the greenbelt was handed over to developers. To those threatened with the prospect of bulldozers arriving in a field near their home, it will mean urban sprawl and the destruction of large swathes of natural countryside so that builders can make a quick profit. Economists argue that when the greenbelt was created in 1955 it arbitrarily distorted the market for building land. But the current housing crisis is about moral issues too and in such a polarising debate it's vital that we're able to identify them to get the root of the issue. How do we draw the line between legitimate self-interest and Luddite nimbyism? People talk a lot about inter-generational justice, but do we have an absolute moral duty to provide for the next generation whatever the cost? How do we choose between conflicting moral goods? We all love a beautiful pastoral scene, but does the physical landscape have a moral value beyond how it can be used in the service of mankind? Obviously, having somewhere to live is a fundamental need, but is home ownership a moral good and even a human right? Panellists George Buskell, Poppy Cleary, Maddie Groeger-Wilson and Jane Fidge.
This week the Prime Minister is touring the devolved nations of the UK as she prepares to trigger the Brexit process. Her message to the people of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is clear: we are better as one nation - the United Kingdom. Brexit has whipped up a complex and (some would say) toxic mixture of politics and patriotism. While Theresa May and others champion the national credentials of the UK, she's having to shout down the voices in the devolved nations that say their economic, cultural and democratic interests would be best served by independence. At the same time, nationalist political parties across Europe are growing in strength, with electoral challenges in France and Germany on the horizon. Is nationalism a moral force for good, because there's no better vehicle for the exercise of freedom and self-determination? Does it encourage a sense of belonging, community and culture? Or is it the worst kind of identity politics - exclusionary, divisive and populist, with sinister currents of "us" and "them"? Are we entering an age when trans-national ideas of the "Brotherhood of Man" are being replaced by loyalties closer to home? At the heart of the debate on nationalism there is an acute moral tension - between solidarity with oppressed national groups on the one hand and revulsion from the crimes perpetrated in the name of nationalism on the other. How and where should we draw the line? The morality of nationalism. Witnesses are Sophie Gaston, Simon Winder, Prof David Conway and Hardeep Singh Kohli.
Meritocracy Of Grammar Schools
The government has pledged that a new generation of grammar schools will improve social mobility. One way being proposed to ensure that is to force grammar schools to lower the 11-plus pass mark for poorer children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The idea is already running into opposition. People are asking what's the point of having a selective academic system if you don't select the most able students? It's also said that it risks patronising disadvantaged communities by sending out a message that less is expected of them. At the heart of this debate is the moral value of meritocracy - that you should be rewarded on the basis of your skills and not on your background. Every child should be offered the chance to achieve their maximum educational potential, but what if they can't achieve that because of an accident of birth? Isn't it right to try to balance the scales? Or will that come at the cost of another, perhaps more able child, being denied a place at a grammar, again because of an accident of birth? Does this encourage identity politics and blur the line between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome? Is this treating the symptom and not the cause - creating a state education system that's lost sight of the quest for academic excellence and is more interested in the politics of social mobility, class envy and division? Witnesses are Dr Martin Stephen, Dame Rachel De Souza, Prof Peter Saunders and Conor Ryan.
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.
Morality of Loyalty
298 days after Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri had done the seemingly impossible and helped his team win the Premiership league title, he's been sacked. Even by the standards of football it was a decision that shocked many. Gary Lineker, a former Leicester player, said he shed a tear. Leicester had never won a top-flight title but their improbable triumph rekindled some of the romance of the sport and Ranieri was made FIFA's Coach of the Year. This season has been a disaster. Leicester now face relegation - which will cost the club £70m. That might be a simple mathematical calculation, but this is a complex moral equation. Is loyalty a moral virtue? Isn't hard-head commercialism, loyal only to the bottom line, the only rational approach in a results-driven environment? As much as loyalty is a virtue, is blind loyalty a vice? Is loyalty owed to moral principles and objectives rather than to people, who can lead us badly astray? In an era when friendships and relationships have been reduced to the click of a mouse or a swipe to the right, should we value loyalty more highly? And then of course, there's the issue of loyalty to your leader and your political party... Witnesses are Rev. Rachel Mann, Dr Shahrar Ali, Jim White and Richard Bevan.