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Moral Maze

Podcast Moral Maze
Podcast Moral Maze

Moral Maze


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  • The Morality of Snobbery
    People like us... you know what I mean. Snobbery? It's everywhere, and most of us would admit to it, at least occasionally. But beyond the caricatures of snooty and disdainful types who enjoy looking down on the tastes, habits and backgrounds of others, there's the serious matter of how it affects people's life chances. The British Psychological Society has launched a campaign to make social class a legally protected characteristic, like sex, race and disability. It would force employers and others to tackle discrimination on the basis of class. The idea is to reduce the damaging effects of class-based prejudice across education, work and health, and create a fairer society. People from working class backgrounds are less likely to get into a top university or land a highly paid job, but how much of that is down to the snobbery of others? Is a change in the law really going to shift prejudices that have been embedded over generations? Is it right to use the law in this way? More broadly, what’s wrong with expressing a preference about how other people present themselves? Isn't some behaviour that gets labelled as snobbery just an attempt to defend high standards, whether in speech, writing, taste or manners? Is there a moral case for snobbery? With Bridgette Rickett, D.J. Taylor, David Skelton and Alex Bilmes. Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Peter Everett Presenter: Michael Buerk
  • The Future of the NHS
    The Future of the NHS Can the UK keep its promise of free healthcare for everyone? NHS spending is higher than ever, yet waiting lists are getting longer and patient satisfaction is falling. The worst of the pandemic may have passed, but weekly Covid admissions remain high and many services are still struggling. While many patients feel delighted with the treatment and care they receive, stories of missed targets, staff shortages and crumbling buildings are common. Whether its waiting for an operation, mental health support, getting a GP appointment or just hoping an ambulance arrives in time, our cherished and beloved NHS is letting many people down, in spite of the heroic efforts of its staff. The people vying to be our next Prime Minister have acknowledged the problems, but are not promising big improvements. Is it time for a new model? Some believe it’s about funding, and we need to accept that the NHS we want and need will cost us much more. But in a cost of living crisis, are people really prepared to pay higher taxes to improve the NHS, and if not, why do we still expect a Rolls Royce health system? Others think it’s a bottomless pit of demand and it’s time to reduce our expectations. Can we afford the NHS to be anything more than a safety net for the sickest and poorest? Is it right to promise care to everyone, even those who can afford to go private? Or, might the public’s willingness to pay for the NHS evaporate, if it's no longer there for all of us? We may love our NHS, but how much should we expect of it, and how much are we willing to pay? With Tim Knox, Dr Jennifer Dixon, Matthew Lesh and Prof Allyson Pollock. Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Peter Everett Presenter: Michael Buerk
  • The Right to Abortion
    The Right to Abortion This weekend thousands of people marched on the White House in support of a woman’s right to choose an abortion. That constitutional principle, established nearly 50 years ago in the case of “Roe v Wade” has just been overturned by the US Supreme Court and already many Republican states have banned abortions. As President Biden moves to try to protect abortion rights, campaigners in the UK have been stirred to action. There have been ‘Pro Life’ demonstrations outside clinics in Northern Ireland and ‘Pro Choice’ protests outside the US Embassy in London. The number of abortions in England and Wales last year, more than 214,000, was the highest recorded since 1967, when a new law allowed, in most cases, terminations up to the 24th week of pregnancy. This also applied to Scotland but was only extended to Northern Ireland two years ago. Public opinion is clear: 85% of people in Britain think women should have the right to abortion. But should rights also be afforded to the unborn, and if so, at what stage of pregnancy? Has anyone the moral right to dictate whether a woman can have an abortion? For many women, “my body – my choice” is a fundamental principle. With Madeline Page, Professor Ellie Lee, Professor John Milbank and Kerry Abel. Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Peter Everett Presenter: Michael Buerk
  • 'Unacceptable' Opinions
    “Unacceptable” Opinions Have you ever felt that you can’t say what you really think, that your honest opinions have become somehow unacceptable? It’s a common complaint that freedom of speech is being restricted, that more and more views have become inadmissible or rejected as intolerable. On social media, people expressing thoughts that would have hardly raised an eyebrow a generation ago, are viciously attacked and branded as bigots. If that is a problem - and opinions differ - the government may be about to make it worse. Its Online Safety Bill, going through Parliament just now, is aimed at making the UK the safest place in the world to go online, but there are concerns that it could involve more censorship and less freedom. It is surely good to have a diverse range of views openly and freely expressed in public, important for democracy for honest discourse and a sure sign of true freedom of speech. But others feel that cleaning up the public space of unsavoury, prejudiced and hateful views makes for a more civilised society. It creates safer, more respectful places for everyone. Offensive comments that were shamelessly expressed in the past about, for example black, gay or trans people are rarer now. Is this evidence that modern values like equality are being widely embraced, or a sign that people feel muzzled and their views, far from going away, are festering into conspiracy theories, extremism and even the threat of violence? Does it matter if the range of views we can express becomes narrower? With Eric Heinze, James Bloodworth, Joe Mulhall and Jeevun Sandher. Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Peter Everett Presenter: Michael Buerk
  • Ukraine - what should western countries do next?
    Ukraine - what should the west do next? It's 125 days since Russia's tanks rolled into Ukraine in a full scale invasion of the country. Since then the world has watched, appalled by the bloodshed, the destruction of towns and cities, the 12 million refugees. At first there was relief that the Ukrainians had beaten back the attack on the capital Kyiv. Now there is less optimism as Russia takes more territory in the east. From the start Britain and its allies have been clear: Russia must be stopped. Billions of pounds worth of weapons have been sent to help Ukraine fight back. With a unity that surprised many, western countries have imposed tough economic sanctions on Russia. But Ukraine says it needs more weapons, and more powerful ones, if it is to drive the Russians back across the border. Some observers do not think that’s a realistic aim in any case. The conflict has become bogged down and our own Prime Minister says 'we need to steel ourselves for a long war.' Global prices of food and energy have risen steeply, causing hardship in the west and the prospect of famine in Africa. What should the west do now? Is it time to supply Ukraine with NATO's most powerful weapons, short of nuclear missiles? Must Russia fail and be seen to fail? Or should we, as the French President has argued, be offering Putin an ‘off-ramp’? In any case, is it practical - or moral - to behave as though the choice between war and peace can be our decision? With Paul Ingram, Orysia Lutsevych, Richard Sakwa and Edward Lucas. Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Peter Everett Presenter: Michael Buerk

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