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The Morality of Holidays
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? Witnesses are Dr Steve Davies, Prof Xavier Font, Dr Harold Goodwin and George Monbiot. Producer: Dan Tierney.
Veganism and Animal Rights
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.
Morality and Gender Equality
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.
The Morality of Faith Schools
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.
The morality of parental rights
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.