Why are we afraid to judge?

April 1, 2015

Nowadays, the courts are increasingly involved in a plethora of moral, political and social arenas that in the past were beyond judicial intervention. Courts have recently decided cases about welfare reforms, hospital closures, the HS2 railway line, assisted suicide, genetics, compensation for Kenyan Mau Mau victims, and whether an hotelier can refuse a hotel bed to a gay couple. Should we welcome judges’ wisdom in arbitrating over greater areas of life and difficult subjects, or should we be wary of the politicisation of the law and ‘judicial activism’? Does the law have limits? If so, where should these limits be drawn and by whom? Filmed at the Battle of Ideas, these and many more questions are expertly discussed in this charged debate by an impressive line-up of speakers.

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Should we fear democracy?

April 1, 2015

Democracy no longer inspires political and moral judgements and for many democracy is scorned as nothing more than pandering to populist prejudice. This Battle of Ideas debate interrogates the fanciful delusions that suffrage for sixteen year olds, Occupy-style protest or digital direct democracy make for a more engaged citizenry. Whatever happened to the foundational idea that liberal democracy obliges us all to convince others who share common interests to win a public mandate for real alternatives?

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Our morals, their moralism?

April 1, 2015

The charge of ‘moralism’ or ‘moralising’ is always complicated. Nobody endorses immorality, we all know the difference between moralism and morality. Or do we? The former implies an unattractive self-righteousness; the latter is ‘the real thing’. But without righteousness, does morality have any meaning? The obvious danger with rejecting moralism is that we abandon any attempt to talk about right and wrong. Indeed, contemporary culture seems uncomfortable with the language of morality. Terms like good, bad, right, wrong, should, should not, duty and obligation are often seen as moralistic ‘tut tutting’ that unfairly stigmatises people. Filmed at the Battle of Ideas this fascinating panel tackles some big questions.

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Judgement by our peers: is the jury out?

April 1, 2015

Most people see trial by jury as a cornerstone of Western justice. But in this storming Battle of Ideas debate belief in the jury is on the line and audience members are clearly not sold on their importance for democracy. Are juries falling out of favour because judges are more reliable decision takers or is this one more example of contempt for our peers and a preference for unaccountable so called experts? A must see debate worth sharing.

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Judge rule: is the law taking over politics?

April 1, 2015

Nowadays, the courts are increasingly involved in a plethora of moral, political and social arenas that in the past were beyond judicial intervention. Courts have recently decided cases about welfare reforms, hospital closures, the HS2 railway line, assisted suicide, genetics, compensation for Kenyan Mau Mau victims, and whether an hotelier can refuse a hotel bed to a gay couple. Should we welcome judges’ wisdom in arbitrating over greater areas of life and difficult subjects, or should we be wary of the politicisation of the law and ‘judicial activism’? Does the law have limits? If so, where should these limits be drawn and by whom? Filmed at the Battle of Ideas, these and many more questions are expertly discussed in this charged debate by an impressive line-up of speakers.

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Hashtag feminism: radical or banal?

April 1, 2015

Today’s feminism seems a far cry from its historic roots. Feminists now cheer when Twitter trolls are imprisoned for online abuse. Some seek to ban allegedly sexist pop songs and lads mags. These censorious demands seem at odds with Germaine Greer’s assertion in The Female Eunuch that ‘freedom is fragile and must be protected. To sacrifice it, even as a temporary measure, is to betray it.’ Filmed at the Battle of Ideas Festival, this debate raises some big questions, not least are there really still obstacles to women making it as equals in the world of work today? The panel seems to think so, but audience members are not entirely convinced. After all major companies are now hosting women’s networks, policing male behaviour, providing lengthy maternity and paternity leave and more. Is there still a battle to win for women, what do you think?

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Growth is good: mission or mania?

April 1, 2015

Before the financial crisis, GDP growth was criticised for not making us happy, scarring the planet and making the rich even richer. Despite the prolonged economic misery and political humiliation suffered by countries like Greece and Italy in the aftermath of the Eurozone crisis, doubts about the desirability of GDP growth remain. Will weak economic growth lead policymakers to ramp up investment and go for real wealth creation or does a culture of pessimism simply mean more short-term financial tricks like quantitative easing and consumer credit expansion? Filmed at the Battle of Ideas the question is on the table: do we have to accept stunted growth as the ‘new normal’?

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Evidence-based Education: marks out of 10?

April 1, 2015

In this engaging discussion, filmed at the Battle of Ideas, speakers confront the rise and rise of evidence-based teaching in British classrooms. All agree that teaching is a craft that needs to resist the fads and fashions of brain gym, NLP and neuroscience. But do we need further research and better evidence to improve teaching? Or, is this desire to mimic evidence-based medicine in order to improve student marks an evasion of teaching’s mission to inspire a love of knowledge?

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Drip by DRIP: have we given up on privacy?

April 1, 2015

Snowden’s exposure of covert surveillance has been lauded as a timely warning of how our private lives are cravenly monitored by the state, sanctioned by the PATRIOT Act in the US and RIPA – and now DRIP – this side of the pond. This discussion filmed at the Battle of Ideas, questions the surveillance panic and considers the wider picture. Today, we regularly thrust our private lives in to the spotlight, whether that’s the narcissistic sharing of gynaecological details on Facebook or offline public crusades to expose dark goings on behind closed doors. The problem it seems is not so straightforward.

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Debating Matters International Final 2014

April 1, 2015

The Battle of Ideas hosted the sixth UK versus India Debating Matters International Final. Known for its rigorous and intellectually challenging format that values substance over style, the international final showcased the very best debaters from both countries. The students debate with passion the motion: we should be willing to compromise our privacy in the interests of national and international security. No easy subject and well worth a watch to consider your views and who you think should have won. This debate featured exceptionally inspiring students from PSBB Senior Secondary School, KK Nagar, Chennai, India and Franklin College from Grimsby, UK.

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