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Podcast Profile: The Minefield

podcast imageTwitter: @RadioNational (followed by 32 philosophers)
Site: www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/theminefield
250 episodes
2017 to present
Average episode: 46 minutes
Open in Apple PodcastsRSS

Categories: Interview-Style • Two Hosts

Podcaster's summary: In a world marked by wicked social problems, The Minefield helps you negotiate the ethical dilemmas, contradictory claims and unacknowledged complicities of modern life.

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List Updated: 2022-Aug-10 11:32 UTC. Episodes: 250. Feedback: @TrueSciPhi.

Episodes
2022-Aug-04 • 54 minutes
Can constitutional recognition be an act of patriotic pride?
In his speech to the Garma Festival, PM Anthony Albanese put it to the nation that constitutionally enshrining a First Nations Voice would not undermine Australia’s national identity, but more fully express it. Professor Tim Soutphommasane joins Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens to discuss the nature and moral limits of patriotism, and whether it can co-exist with an appropriate sense of national remorse, even shame.
2022-Jul-28 • 54 minutes
Should voice assistants use the voices of our loved ones?
Amazon recently unveiled its plans for an update to Alexa that will enable the device to sound like someone you love — even someone who has died. Professor Yolande Strengers joins Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens to unpack why this is such a bad idea, and how to understand the ethical limits of our relationship with technology.
2022-Jul-21 • 54 minutes
What’s the point of political “diversity”?
Following the ignominious resignation of Boris Johnson, the Tories are looking for a new leader — and the UK a new Prime Minister. The cast of contenders is the most diverse we’ve seen, but that hasn’t yielded a notably different political vision. Why? ANU political scientist Marija Taflaga joins Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens to discuss the significance of and constraints on diversity in political representation.
2022-Jul-14 • 54 minutes
Does standpoint epistemology undermine democratic politics?
Democratic politics is more than a matter of power. It is predicated on the possibility of discovering common ground through practices of mutual recognition, exchange, attentiveness, and understanding.
2022-Jul-07 • 54 minutes
The Art of Living: Jane Austen’s “Emma”
In Jane Austen’s novel Emma, we find an abiding concern with the demands, not just of propriety, but of morality, an attentiveness to the dangers of self-deception, and vivid reminders of the importance of friendship to progress in the moral life.
2022-Jun-30 • 54 minutes
Persuasion — is it possible, or even desirable?
Far too much debate today is more like a play of competing monologues, or self-promotion designed to perform for one’s tribe. Should we give up on the fantasy of persuasion through argumentation and cascading theses altogether?
2022-Jun-23 • 54 minutes
Is Julian Assange entitled to a “free speech” defence?
Julian Assange’s defenders claim that the free speech protections afforded to news organisations should apply to Assange as well — and that his impending extradition to the US therefore poses a threat to democracy. Professor Katharine Gelber joins Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens to discuss whether the free speech argument holds.
2022-Jun-16 • 54 minutes
What’s the point of political comedy?
While political comedy has long been a distinguishing feature of truly democratic cultures, one of the more notable shifts over the past two decades has been the merger of comedy into political commentary. What has this done to the conditions of our common life?
2022-Jun-09 • 54 minutes
What would a First Nations Voice mean for Australia?
Five years after the historic gathering at the red centre, Anthony Albanese used his election night victory speech to “commit to the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full”. Professor Megan Davis joins Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens on The Minefield to discuss some of the obstacles that stand in the way of a constitutional referendum, and how a First Nations Voice might transform the moral fabric of our politics.
2022-Jun-02 • 54 minutes
The ethical dilemmas of crowd-funding platforms
Social media platforms have been the objects of unrelenting public and political scrutiny over the past decade. Rather less attention has been paid to their more benign cousins — so called “crowd-funding platforms” like GoFundMe. Until now. For what happens when one person’s worthy cause is another’s moral abomination?
2022-May-26 • 54 minutes
What is the significance of Australia’s federal election?
Does the 2022 federal election tell us anything about the future of Australian democracy? We know that the Coalition was resoundingly defeated. But does Australia’s new patchwork parliament hold out a surprising model for how some of the inherent limits of representative politics can be overcome?
2022-May-19 • 4 minutes
How do you solve a problem like housing affordability?
There is an inescapable conflict that any policy meant to address housing affordability must contend with: in order to make home-ownership more achievable for some, the value of houses must decrease — thereby offending the way we have been urged to see houses as an instrument of financial accumulation. Professor Victoria Ong ViforJ joins The Minefield to discuss whether there is a solution.
2022-May-12 • 54 minutes
Is it ethical to be ambivalent?
We live in a time when “hot” emotions prevail. It could be that an alternative sentiment, in some ethically complex circumstances, is ambivalence — which is to say, a willingness to withhold judgment, to linger in the interval between two options.
2022-May-05 • 54 minutes
Sovereignty, security, and the Solomon Islands
By turning the Solomon Islands into a federal election “issue”, Australia has emphasised the national security implications of their agreement with China. PM Manasseh Sogavare has, in response, asserted their right to “manage our sovereign affairs”. ANU’s Terence Wood joins The Minefield to discuss the tension between security and sovereignty, and what it all means for Solomon Island’s democratic culture.
2022-Apr-28
Purification and the Moral Life: The Ethics of Hunger and Eating
Few of life’s activities are as morally complicated as eating. If food has become, in our time, a source of nourishment for what Iris Murdoch calls the “fat relentless ego”, what might it mean to transform food into a means of achieving companionability with others?
2022-Apr-21 • 1 minutes
Purification and the Moral Life: Disciplining the Eyes
There are habits of seeing which can corrupt our moral lives, or clutter our vision, or defile our imaginations. Just as there is a “contemptuous gaze”, as Iris Murdoch puts it, there are also “eyes tempered by grace”. So what might it mean to undergo a “fast for the eyes” in order to see the world more clearly?
2022-Apr-14 • 54 minutes
Purification and the Moral Life: Chastening Speech
Of all the ways we interact with the world and with the moral reality of other persons, none is as fundamental as speech. In a time when we are saturated with words, what might it mean to purify our language?
2022-Apr-07 • 54 minutes
Purification and the Moral Life: Transforming Desire
What if the impediments to moral growth are not purely or even primarily external to us? During the month of Ramadan, we explore the inner tension between our tendency toward egotism, craving, and self-deception, and the task of cultivating the virtues of humility, self-restraint, and moral clarity.
2022-Mar-31 • 54 minutes
Is anger corrosive to the moral life? A conversation with Christos Tsiolkas
There is no doubt that emotions like anger can be a proper response to the persistence of injustice or inequality or prejudice or cruelty in the world. But it can also be exhausting and insatiable in its desire for retribution, or to impose one’s will upon the world. Should we, then, seek to renounce anger?
2022-Mar-24 • 54 minutes
Live from WOMADelaide: Should children get the vote?
The question of whether the franchise should be extended to children has become an increasingly pressing topic in political theory. But why would we want them to vote? Is it in the interests of political equality? It is to achieve a specific outcome — say, more future-oriented, climate friendly policies? Or is it to cultivate the necessary democratic virtues?
2022-Mar-17 • 54 minutes
What’s at stake in the conflict in Ukraine?
It is hardly surprising that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been met by fierce, swift, and unified opposition on the part of the West and their allies — who have offered strategic support to the Ukrainian military, and isolated Russia through an unprecedented regime of economic, diplomatic, and cultural sanctions. What might this mean for international responses to other such atrocities elsewhere?
2022-Mar-10 • 54 minutes
What’s worse in politics — lying or hypocrisy?
Lying has become so commonplace in politics that it has almost become expected — if not quite accepted. Many politicians who are notoriously promiscuous with the truth even remain relatively popular. Whereas few things infuriate voters like hypocrisy. Should hypocrisy bother us as much as it does? Should we be quite as blasé about political lying as we seem to be?
2022-Mar-03 • 3 minutes
“Succession” — A Theatre of Cruelty
Works of art, both high and low, can inform and inflect a moral vision of the world. It makes sense to approach works of art with an attentiveness to the light they shed on our lives and our life together. But does this still apply to the award-winning HBO series “Succession”, with its evident delight in cruelty, cunning, and almost virtuosic vulgarity?
2022-Feb-24 • 54 minutes
Does Australia have a concept of “solidarity”?
Two years ago Scott Morrison raised the drawbridge, effectively sealing “Fortress Australia” off from the rest of the world. What effect has the act of separating Australian citizens and residents from the world and from each other had on our sense of national life, identity, and solidarity? “We” may be “all in this together” — but who, exactly, can be said to count among this “we”?
2022-Feb-17 • 54 minutes
Was the Religious Discrimination Bill destined to fail?
The debate over the Religious Discrimination Bill has exposed a tension at the heart of the liberal vision of a pluralistic society, in which citizens commit to living together despite their profound disagreement over matters of highest importance. What happens when disagreement becomes a cause of harm?
2022-Feb-10 • 54 minutes
How essential is compulsory voting to Australia’s democratic culture?
The practice of compulsory voting, along with the two other pillars of Australia’s electoral system — preferential voting and non-partisan election administration — have kept Australian democracy remarkably stable over the past hundred years. But just how much can we rely on these formal elements of Australian democracy to safeguard Australia’s democratic culture?
2022-Feb-03 • 54 minutes
Are we suffering from too much moral language?
The misuse of moral language in public debate is nothing new. But in our social-media saturated age, this misuse has taken on a distinct and rather perfidious form. Morally weighted language is regularly used to grant excessive or abusive claims, and personal or categorical insults, an air of moral seriousness. This kind of language marks the end of conversation. Are we better off without it?
2022-Jan-27 • 54 minutes
Novak and Boris — why have they elicited such strong public emotions?
Over the past two months, the conduct of two prominent figures have evoked fierce expressions of public emotion. What explains the intensity of feeling? Have these emotions distorted the public’s judgment, or have they granted that judgment a certain moral clarity?
2022-Jan-20 • 54 minutes
Why don’t we talk more about class?
It’s become a sad commonplace in our time to hear the lines along which democratic societies are now divided. What is often absent, however, is mention of class. Why? Do Korean films like Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, or Hwang Dong-hyuk’s smash hit Squid Game, have anything to teach us? Atlantic staff writer George Packer joins us.
2022-Jan-13 • 54 minutes
What are we doing when we "quote"?
How might we avoid bad faith quotations, served up in vain interests, and locate ourselves, our hearers, our readers, in a community of mutual interest and intellectual wonder — not so much using quotations, as exposing ourselves to their provocation?
2022-Jan-06 • 54 minutes
Emojis: Universal language, or harbinger of an age of moral illiteracy?
They seem innocuous, but since their invention more than two decades ago, emojis have come to permeate our forms of online communication. Indeed, they are the perfect expression of what communication has become in a social-media saturated age.
2021-Dec-30 • 54 minutes
Should journalists stay away from social media?
Over the last year, there have been a number of high-profile cases where journalists have either landed themselves in legal trouble, or have sparked fierce backlash, due to their conduct on social media. This raises complex problems, not just for the public’s perception of journalists, their impartiality and credibility, but also of the news organisations to which they belong.
2021-Dec-23 • 54 minutes
Is "opinion" doing more harm than good?
Opinion writing plays a disproportionate role in our media eco-system: it drives online traffic, fuels emotion, feeds the forces of polarisation, and promotes an incapacity to understand one another. But is there a different way to think about opinion?
2021-Dec-16 • 54 minutes
“Prestige television” and the moral life
One of the most notable cultural changes to have taken place over the past two decades is the emergence of “prestige television” — which is to say, television as the visual equivalent of literature, and with similar ambitions. What has this shift done to our moral sensibilities, or to our understanding of the shape and demands and limits and possibilities of the moral life?
2021-Dec-09 • 54 minutes
Should wealthy nations be procuring booster doses?
Now that vaccines are enjoying widespread coverage among wealthy nations, and with the recent emergence of the Omicron variant and rapidly rising rates of infection in the United States and throughout Europe, many states have begun implementing domestic booster campaigns. But this presents thorny ethical problems involving vaccine distribution and global equity.
2021-Dec-02 • 54 minutes
The ethics of “sh*t-stirring”
In a time when so many opinions are clamouring for views in our debauched attention economy, “sh*t-stirring” has become an irresistible strategy to get oneself noticed. But it does so at a cost, not least to the reputational cost of those who practice it — including moral philosophers. So what is the difference between “sh*t-stirring” and something like virtuous provocation?
2021-Nov-25 • 54 minutes
Melbourne’s protests — last gasp or harbinger of things to come?
Over the last two weeks, we’ve seen a new wave public protests grow in both size and palpable anger in Victoria. With politicians already trying to make the most of these demonstrations in the lead-up to next year’s federal election, what are their implications for representative politics in Australia?
2021-Nov-18 • 54 minutes
The ethics of political U-turns
How much leeway should we give politicians to change, if not their minds, then at least their positions? Under what circumstances are political “U-turns” not liable to condemnation or censure? When should they be met with suspicion, and when should they be received as a reflection of the hard realities of representative politics itself?
2021-Nov-11 • 54 minutes
Why don’t we talk more about class?
It’s become a sad commonplace in our time to hear the lines along which democratic societies are now divided. What is often absent, however, is mention of class. Why? Do Korean films like Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, or Hwang Dong-hyuk’s smash hit Squid Game, have anything to teach us? Atlantic staff writer George Packer joins us.
2021-Nov-04 • 54 minutes
Should we enjoy sports that ruin athletes’ lives?
Every so often, fans are forced to reckon with the high price that sports can exact on the lives of athletes. In such moments, we are compelled to ask: Is our enjoyment worth the cost?
2021-Oct-28 • 54 minutes
What are we doing when we “quote”?
How might we avoid bad faith quotations, served up in vain interests, and locate ourselves, our hearers, our readers, in a community of mutual interest and intellectual wonder — not so much using quotations, as exposing ourselves to their provocation?
2021-Oct-21 • 54 minutes
How much should we care about climate change?
There is a growing evidence that people have accepted the reality of climate change and the need for action. But there is significant divergence in attitudes toward the salience of the problem — which is to say, how big a problem it is, how much it should matter to us, and where to rank climate change in a list of national priorities.
2021-Oct-14 • 54 minutes
Persuasion — is it possible, or even desirable?
Far too much debate today is more like a play of competing monologues, or forms of self-promotion designed to perform for one’s tribe. Should we give up on the fantasy of persuasion through argumentation and cascading theses, as some philosophers have, or do we need to rethink the conditions of persuasion altogether?
2021-Oct-07 • 54 minutes
Has the pandemic shown the unassailability of utilitarianism — or its inherent limitations?
As the philosopher Bernard Williams anticipated, utilitarianism has largely disappeared from public view, not because it is no longer adhered to, but because it has become the “operating system” that governs most of our public decision-making. What the COVID-19 pandemic has done is make that hidden calculus explicit.
2021-Sep-30 • 54 minutes
Has democratic politics become too contemptuous of everyday life?
In modern politics and moral philosophy, what is most meaningfully human is regularly ignored in the interests of solving “real problems”. While this is often understandable, it also points to a certain debility, a malaise at the heart of the way forms of both representative politics and moral philosophy are often practiced: an inattention to the “everyday”.
2021-Sep-23 • 54 minutes
Should we avoid humiliating the unvaccinated?
If levels of strident “vaccine hesitancy” in Australia are extremely low, and the push to help the population reach the necessary vaccination threshold is more logistical than it is ideological, should we continue publicly to use language and to employ punitive measures which effectively humiliate or ostracise the unvaccinated?
2021-Sep-17 • 6 minutes
PRESENTS — This Much Is True
Even in a scientifically enlightened, media-savvy age, conspiracy theories have proven strangely resilient. They just don’t seem to want to go away, and many people seemingly can’t get their fill. We’ve touched on the odd persistence of conspiracy theories on this show in the past, but now RN has devoted an entire series to what makes conspiracies attractive, how people find themselves swallowed up by them, and, perhaps most importantly, how people have found their way out.
2021-Sep-16 • 54 minutes
From Abu Ghraib to Nakhon Sawan — why does torture persist?
The events of 9/11 are inseparable from the horrors of what was subsequently revealed about the use of torture against detainees in locations like Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay. What does the persistence of torture say about political communities that continue to countenance its use?
2021-Sep-09 • 54 minutes
Australian politics – is the divide geographical, not ideological?
In the face of the latest COVID-19 outbreaks, there is little that has differentiated the governing strategies of Liberal and Labor state governments — certainly not at the level of practice. Are we witnessing a more long-term scrambling of Australia’s already unclear political divisions?
2021-Sep-02 • 54 minutes
Should journalists stay away from social media?
Over the last year, there have been a number of high-profile cases where journalists have either landed themselves in legal trouble, or have sparked fierce backlash, due to their conduct on social media. This raises complex problems, not just for the public’s perception of journalists, their impartiality and credibility, but also of the news organisations to which they belong.
2021-Aug-26 • 54 minutes
Was US failure in Afghanistan inevitable?
Does the swift collapse of the US-backed Afghan government suggest that places like Afghanistan are ungovernable by anything other than brute force and unimpeded corruption — or does it suggest that the ultimate folly of the post-9/11 wars was the conceit of “nation building” itself?
2021-Aug-19 • 54 minutes
The ethics of dobbing
Snitching, ratting, dobbing, grassing — these are all words for behaviour that we are taught, at a very young age, to find reprehensible. Is our reticence to “dob” an expression of a worrying disposition toward non-intervention, or is it an expression, even if a perverse one, of a deeper moral principle?
2021-Aug-12 • 54 minutes
How much dissent is permissible in a public health emergency?
The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a wave of “emergency politics”, in which the normal processes of democratic deliberation and public accountability have been suspended. In a public health crisis, is democratic dissent a problem to be solved, or a resource for a more sustainable, mutually beneficial outcome?
2021-Aug-05 • 54 minutes
Can national shame lead to political change?
Could the full acknowledgement of the extent of our complicity in the injustices of the past, constitute a galvanising principle, the basis upon which a new political community is formed? Is shame really inimical to national pride, or is it rather one of its expressions?
2021-Jul-29 • 54 minutes
The ethics of space tourism
A new “space race” is underway – except this time, it’s not between the United States and Russia, or even China and India. Instead, billionaires Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Richard Branson are spearheading the lucrative “space tourism” industry. Should this be seen as a source of hope, or simply one more expression of capitalism’s dogma of infinite growth.
2021-Jul-22 • 54 minutes
Myanmar — what are the limits of political violence?
The military coup, which overturned the results of last November’s national election, has plunged Myanmar into a cycle of escalating violence. This poses quite specific questions about the legitimacy and limits of revolutionary violence, and the kind of political community that might be left in its wake.
2021-Jul-15 • 54 minutes
Is COVID-19 bringing the worst out of Australian politics?
What is the prolonged experience of the pandemic showing us about the nature of Australian politics, the limits of executive power, the role of experts in the administration of public life, and the fault-lines that continue to undermine our sense of common purpose?
2021-Jul-08 • 54 minutes
Is nihilism compatible with the moral life?
In moral philosophy and mass culture alike, “nihilism” has a bad name. And little wonder. It is most often associated with meaninglessness, pessimism, and amoralism. At its heart, nihilism is a view of the world in which progress is not assured, a world without overarching meaning. Does that present a problem to the moral life?
2021-Jul-01 • 54 minutes
Has justice been done to George Floyd?
Is the conviction and sentencing of Derek Chauvin something to be celebrated as an indication of moral progress? Can the shared horror over George Floyd’s murder, and the solidarity that followed it, galvanise a fresh commitment to justice and a preparedness to sacrifice existing privileges?
2021-Jun-24 • 54 minutes
What’s so bad about laughter?
Philosophy’s concern with laughter is as old as philosophy itself. The association of laughter with derision and contempt runs through the concerns of philosophers from Plato and Aristotle to Hobbes and Nietzsche. But is there laughter beyond ridicule and derision? Can laughter be transformative or liberating?
2021-Jun-17 • 54 minutes
What are we doing when we make promises?
Should we be bound by the constraints of our former self, and the promises we have made in the past? Is moral progress a matter of consistency with one’s previous self, away from one’s previous self, or toward ever-enriching relationships with others?
2021-Jun-10 • 54 minutes
Are there ethical limits to vaccination incentives?
Should certain privileges be afforded to those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine (from international travel to attending sports venues and restaurants)? Could such privileges act as incentives (and if so, under what conditions), or are they more likely to produce deep feelings of inequity and resentment?
2021-Jun-03 • 54 minutes
Aged care: How do we honour our obligations to the elderly?
The Royal Commission into Aged Care and the ravages of COVID-19 within aged care facilities have thrown a spotlight on the adequacy, the ethics and the dignity of our ongoing care of the elderly. To what extent have entrenched patterns of ageist prejudice created the conditions within which certain forms of abuse and neglect could take place? And what can we do to challenge and change these prejudices?
2021-May-27 • 54 minutes
Is it ever OK to abandon your team?
Attachment to sporting clubs is one of our deepest and most emotionally charged forms of prejudice. But what about those moments when a fan decides she can no longer support her team? Has she betrayed her team? Alternatively, in what ways can clubs betray their fans?
2021-May-20 • 54 minutes
What are the conditions of co-existence in Israel-Palestine?
The incommensurability of the claims in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict produces a kind of moral absolutism, whereby one side is entirely to blame and another is entirely justified. But are there moral resources that can be brought to bear which grant the legitimacy of the maximal claims of both sides, and then set about exploring the conditions of mutual recognition?
2021-May-13 • 54 minutes
Fatigue – the emotional cost of the moral life?
Fatigue is a fascinating moral phenomenon. It can be a consequence of attentiveness, a willingness to face the realities of the world. But it can also be a form of avoidance, of “moral laziness”, the symptom of an active desire not to confront matters that seem to call for our attention. What are the dangers of fatigue, and how are we to respond to it when it overtakes us?
2021-May-06 • 54 minutes
Neglected Practices: Solitude
How do we practice solitude in a time rich with distractions and which exhibits peculiar aversion to (and fear of) loneliness? And when we are alone with ourselves, how do we avoid the dangers of self-deception such that solitude becomes genuinely transformative — for us, and for others?
2021-Apr-29 • 54 minutes
Neglected Practices: Fasting
While fasting is an observance associated with Ramadan, versions the practice are broadly familiar to us — from the forms of “self-restraint” that are bound up with physical fitness, to advice commending the health benefits of a regular 14-hour fast. But are these forms of “self-care” just further preoccupations with “the self”, rendering us forgetful of the needs of the moral life?
2021-Apr-22 • 54 minutes
Neglected Practices: Not-Knowing
One of the defining features of our time is the overproduction of what could be called “useless knowledge” — ranging from gossip and empty speculation, to undeniably important “news” which makes no claim on our moral lives other than that we have an opinion about it. In a world full of competing distractions, could it be that one of the greatest moral challenges is how to limit what we know?
2021-Apr-15 • 54 minutes
Neglected Practices: Attentiveness
With the proliferation of digital distractions and addictive technologies, many of us live in a state of perpetual half-attention. We tend to move from one “sugar-hit” to the next — stimuli which elicit strong if transitory emotions, but discourage us from being present, entirely, to one person, one text, one idea. What is the lack of attentiveness doing to our moral lives?
2021-Apr-08 • 54 minutes
What should become of the office?
Will the experience of working-from-home make employees reluctant to resume the daily struggle with traffic or public transportation, or to put up with irritating co-workers and unproductive work environments? Or will we discover that we’ve missed something precious in being deprived of interactions with others?
2021-Apr-01 • 54 minutes
Can politics bring about the change women are demanding?
It’s understandable that so much anger should be directed at the federal government, and that the federal government’s numerous missteps and failures to respond appropriately to what this moment demands have added insult to injury. But if the problem is culture-wide, can federal politics be the solution?
2021-Mar-25 • 54 minutes
Has COVID-19 undermined our commitment to civility?
One of the perhaps underappreciated aspects of COVID-19 is the way the pandemic has dealt a blow to these daily interactions which reinforce our commitment to a common life. What is ‘civility’? What is the regulative role it plays in our common life?
2021-Mar-18 • 54 minutes
Does climate change challenge our concept of moral responsibility?
Does our limited conception of moral responsibility stem from a profound failure to recognise our interconnectedness, the extent to which our lives are implicated in the suffering and wellbeing of others – human and nonhuman?
2021-Mar-11 • 54 minutes
What “justice” can an independent inquiry deliver?
In the absence of a police investigation into an historical allegation of sexual assault against the Attorney-General, many Australians have pinned their hopes on an independent, arms-length, confidential inquiry. Professor Rosalind Dixon joins us to discuss the legal and moral grounds for such an inquiry.
2021-Mar-04 • 54 minutes
Emojis: Universal language, or harbinger of an age of moral illiteracy?
They seem innocuous, but since their invention more than two decades ago, emojis have come to permeate our forms of online communication. Indeed, they are the perfect expression of what communication has become in a social-media saturated age.
2021-Feb-25 • 54 minutes
Facebook and the news: should the divorce be permanent?
The measures Facebook has taken over the past week have precipitated a long-overdue reckoning. Now that the “social network” has lifted the veil on its ambitions and civic disdain, how can news media companies continue, in good conscience, with their Faustian pact?
2021-Feb-18 • 54 minutes
What can our experience of art tell us about the moral life?
Professor Rita Felski joins Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens to explore whether a better understanding of the nature of aesthetic experience – of what art does to us, and why – can give us a better sense of the nature of moral disagreement, and of how it is that we might come to discover a shared world.
2021-Feb-11 • 54 minutes
What democracy needs to survive
Do Republicans have an obligation to convict and impeach Trump, for the sake of the health of the body politic? Can democracy itself survive when each “side” casts its electoral success as necessary to the survival of the nation, and the “other side” as an existential threat?
2021-Feb-04 • 54 minutes
Is “opinion” doing more harm than good?
Opinion writing plays a disproportionate role in our media eco-system: it drives online traffic, fuels emotion, feeds the forces of polarisation, and promotes an incapacity to understand one another. But is there a different way to think about opinion?
2021-Jan-28 • 54 minutes
Was Twitter right to suspend Trump?
Perhaps the most consequential event over the last two months was decision of social media companies to ban Donald Trump — permanently or indefinitely — from their platforms “due to the risk of further incitement of violence”. Why are some vaguely uneasy about this move? Are there valid ethical objections?
2021-Jan-20 • 51 minutes
Is "cancel culture" really constricting free speech?
How does liberal democracy manage incommensurable disagreement? Do the moral and political demands for justice and inclusion trump the principles of free expression and open debate? What is the moral status of "opinion"?
2021-Jan-13 • 47 minutes
What is AI doing to the moral life?
It is the nature of technology to insinuate itself into our daily lives, and to convince us that it is both benevolent by design and utterly indispensable. Little wonder that we have invited digital domestic assistants into our homes and lives at an alarming rate — but at what cost?
2021-Jan-06 • 44 minutes
After the fires, are we invited to moral community with trees?
Over summer last year, Australia witnessed the devastation of forests and the immolation of wildlife on an unimaginable scale. The emotional or even the tragic content of the bushfires has been — understandably — reserved for the loss of human life and home and livelihood, and for the loss of some non-human animals. But why do we grieve fauna and not flora? What if these fires present to us an invitation we refuse to heed: an invitation to rediscover moral companionship, moral community with trees?
2020-Dec-30 • 51 minutes
Ordinary vices: Impatience
The vice of impatience reflects a particular relationship to time: the notion that time is a finite commodity that ‘must be made the most of’, not an opportunity for encounter or an invitation to attentiveness and mutual discovery. Better put, impatience is ultimately about control.
2020-Dec-23 • 42 minutes
Ordinary vices: Is pride an affront to, or the basis of, dignity?
Can pride be ‘redeemed’, and form the basis of human dignity, or is pride as such a form of moral corruption, a debased form of moral vision?
2020-Dec-16 • 47 minutes
The “great audit”: Taking stock of 2020
This is a year that has thrown up a sometimes dizzying series of crises and moral conundrums. On this, our last show of 2020, we try to take stock of the major events and try to discern the underlying themes that come to light. What have we learned — about us, about our world, about our common life?
2020-Dec-09 • 42 minutes
Woke politics: The power of the disempowered?
Is "woke politics" really a form of moral judgment, or is it merely a brand of moralism that seeks to side-step the hard work needed for genuine moral and political transformation?
2020-Dec-02 • 50 minutes
How much should we care about political corruption?
Have we come to accept a degree of corruption as part of the price we pay for democracy? Is administrative competence more important to us than political incorruptibility?
2020-Nov-25 • 52 minutes
War crimes, moral responsibility, and moral injury
The Brereton Report compels us to reflect on what it might mean to say that soldiers express a nation’s “values and laws” – which is to say, that soldiers and civilians belong to the same moral community.
2020-Nov-18 • 47 minutes
Can America’s post-election divisions be overcome?
While Trump’s conduct, cruelty, and incompetence disqualified him in the eyes of a majority of Americans, very nearly half of the nation voted for and remain fiercely devoted to the president. America is divided, but so is the Democratic party. What does this mean for the future?
2020-Nov-11 • 43 minutes
Can Aboriginal political philosophy and political liberalism be reconciled?
Should we think about the story of Australia’s halting “recognition” of its First Peoples as an expression of the ongoing conflict between political philosophies and conceptions of what properly constitutes the common life of a people?
2020-Nov-04 • 47 minutes
Has Trump revealed democracy’s fragility or resilience?
During the week in which American voters cast their verdict on Trump’s term in office, it makes sense to ask: To what extent is Trump to blame for America’s political malaise? In what ways might Joe Biden’s nomination be a sign of democratic hopefulness?
2020-Oct-28 • 46 minutes
What is AI doing to the moral life?
It is the nature of technology to insinuate itself into our daily lives, and to convince us that it is both benevolent by design and utterly indispensable. Little wonder that we have invited digital domestic assistants into our homes and lives at an alarming rate – but at what cost?
2020-Oct-21 • 47 minutes
Could COVID-19 make inequality worse?
The coronavirus pandemic has exposed, rather than alleviated, the nature and extent of inequality in many modern societies. As the recent federal budget demonstrated, Australia is a case in point. What is ‘inequality’, and why is it problematic?
2020-Oct-14 • 38 minutes
The ethics of second chances
We have become increasingly interpersonally punitive and unforgiving, believing this to be a sign of our moral seriousness or our commitment to justice. But perhaps Shakespeare’s late plays — especially Cymbeline and Winter’s Tale — hold out a different moral vision.
2020-Oct-07 • 49 minutes
Should we rejoice that Trump has COVID-19?
What should our reaction be to the news of that Trump tested positive to COVID-19? It is wrong to feel glad, or to hope that he experiences severe symptoms, or that he dies?
2020-Sep-30 • 54 minutes
Should we attempt to escape from “politics”?
“Politics” is, it seems, inescapable. Christos Tsiolkas joins Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens to discuss whether we should preserve ways — in literature, in art, in comedy, in sport — to escape the limits of political conflict.
2020-Sep-23 • 49 minutes
How far should courts push societies to change?
The conflict and partisan positioning that followed the recent death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg reflects the role played by the US Supreme Court in adjudicating matters of intense social and political disagreement. What matters should be left to the messy process of political deliberation, contestation, and compromise? Professor Adrienne Stone joins Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens to discuss when, and how, the courts should negotiate politics and public opinion.
2020-Sep-16 • 49 minutes
Is it wrong to respond to arguments with allegations?
Disagreements these days are often met with claims that an argument is “offensive, harmful, unhelpful, or divisive.” What consideration should be given to the likely consequences of an argument? How is this open to abuse?
2020-Sep-09 • 48 minutes
Why does COVID-19 attract conspiracy theories?
The COVID-19 pandemic has proven particularly conducive for those intent on discerning an insidious plot behind both the emergence of the virus and the political response. To what extent are these conspiracies part of a wider culture of pervasive distrust and mutual suspicion?
2020-Sep-02 • 48 minutes
US president as "sufferer in chief"?
Joe Biden has presented himself as a person who knows pain and loss, a tragic figure of uncommon empathy and compassion. Does this tell us anything about how political leadership may be changing under the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic?
2020-Aug-26 • 44 minutes
Should a COVID-19 vaccine be mandatory?
Before walking it back, Scott Morrison said he expected a COVID-19 vaccine "to be as mandatory as you can possibly make [it]". The Prime Minister thereby brought to the fore a series of complicated, but fundamental, ethical questions.
2020-Aug-19 • 46 minutes
What if COVID-19 doesn’t go away?
What if the hoped for COVID-19 vaccine is delayed by months – or years? Do we have the emotional and interpersonal resources to bear up under the strain? Alda Balthrop-Lewis joins Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens to discuss the habits and practices which might help us cultivate the kind of inner life, and life with others, that could see us through the pandemic.
2020-Aug-12 • 48 minutes
Ordinary vices: Ingratitude
Many of us are prone to express our sense of having hardship inflicted upon us by the COVID-19 pandemic — only to be reminded that someone else, somewhere else, has it much worse than we do. Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens discuss when we are permitted to complain, without being guilty of ingratitude.
2020-Aug-05 • 46 minutes
What is the “value” of philosophy?
The fee changes to university degrees announced by the federal government are designed to produce “job ready graduates” by funnelling students into “job-relevant” courses — but at the expense of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Professor Moira Gatens joins Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens to discuss what society loses when philosophy is devalued.
2020-Jul-29 • 50 minutes
Is there a moral imperative to wear masks?
The COVID-19 pandemic presents us with an all-too concrete situation in which seemingly minor, individual actions can have dire consequences for thousands of others. Is the pandemic an extreme situation that makes unusual demands of us, or does it simply make visible the kinds of moral demands which are upon us even in more 'normal' times?
2020-Jul-22 • 45 minutes
Is COVID-19 the end of globalisation?
COVID-19 has reversed the dynamics and inner-logic of globalisation. As we begin imagining a world after COVID-19, will things go back to “normal”? Should things go back to “normal”
2020-Jul-15 • 50 minutes
Is "cancel culture" really constricting free speech?
How does liberal democracy manage incommensurable disagreement? Do the moral and political demands for justice and inclusion trump the principles of free expression and open debate? What is the moral status of "opinion"?
2020-Jul-08 • 47 minutes
Can you enjoy sport without crowd noise?
Teams across codes and countries are facing the prospects of competing in empty or largely empty stadiums. Whatever that might mean for the players themselves, the lack of crowd noise is proving too off-putting for fans watching from home. Kasey Symons from Swinburne University joins us to discuss why.
2020-Jul-01 • 40 minutes
Should the police be abolished?
Following the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks, there are serious calls to defund or even "abolish" the police in the United States. It’s a serious proposal, and it deserves to be taken seriously. But what does it mean, and how can it be done? Yale Law School Professor Tracey Meares joins us to discuss what police abolition looks like.
2020-Jun-24 • 52 minutes
How to acknowledge the debt of historical injustice?
What does it mean for a nation - whether it be the United States, Germany, or Australia - fully to acknowledge the truth of its past, to drag its moral debts into the light of day? Should a sense of guilt play any role in that acknowledgement?
2020-Jun-17 • 48 minutes
Democratic politics is being challenged, but is it changing?
What are we to make of the fact that, in a time when democratic politics is being radically challenged by a series of seismic shocks, and when ideas or options once thought impossible are now squarely back ‘on the table’, our political leaders and their opponents have rarely seemed more conventional? David Runciman, Professor of Politics at Cambridge University and host of the Talking Politics podcast, joins us to dissect this political moment.
2020-Jun-10 • 50 minutes
Ordinary vices: Impatience
The vice of impatience reflects a particular relationship to time: the notion that time is a finite commodity that ‘must be made the most of’, not an opportunity for encounter or an invitation to attentiveness and mutual discovery. Better put, impatience is ultimately about control.
2020-Jun-03 • 49 minutes
After the death of George Floyd
The death of 46-year-old George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police was both shocking and sickeningly familiar. What are the protesters communicating about the moral content of the police-killing of black men and women?
2020-May-27 • 44 minutes
Free riding: Why act, when acting is likely to make no difference?
Are there reasons to act in a particular way, to willingly make some sacrifice, do something which may be good, and which we may even be committed to, when our actions (or lack of action) are likely to be of no consequence? Is size detrimental to democratic community? Professor Roger Crisp joins us to discuss whether the free rider problem highlights the limitation of moral philosophy.
2020-May-20 • 37 minutes
Ramadan and the reality of interdependence
Much like the month of Ramadan, the COVID-19 pandemic presents an intense reminder of a reality we most often ignore: the fact of the limits we inhabit, and our dependence on others.
2020-May-13 • 45 minutes
Is there a moral case against the COVID-19 “shutdown”?
Calls are mounting for an end to the “shutdown” that has been imposed by governments throughout the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic – including from some highly regarded philosophers. Are there more humane, more democratic ways of responding to the threat of the virus?
2020-May-06 • 54 minutes
Is COVID-19 bringing the best, or worst, out of our politics?
Is the pandemic having a chastening effect on our politics, bringing voters back to the real-world consequences of political decisions, or is the pandemic in fact playing right into the hands of populist politicians, creating ideal conditions in which to fan the flames or fear, resentment and mutual suspicion?
2020-Apr-29 • 46 minutes
Is it time to end simulated sex on television and film?
Why, in the light of the #MeToo movement, have we not questioned the aesthetic, much less moral, justification for the disproportionate amount of nudity and simulated sex required of female actors? Do we really need to prolong this puerile reliance on sex to attract viewers?
2020-Apr-22 • 41 minutes
Ordinary vices: Is pride an affront to, or the basis of, dignity?
Can pride be ‘redeemed’, and form the basis of human dignity, or is pride as such a form of moral corruption, a debased form of moral vision?
2020-Apr-15 • 37 minutes
Can we avoid cruelty in the face of COVID-19?
As societies, we are having to grapple with the question of whether some will be made to bear a disproportionate amount of the cost of our collective response to COVID-19.
2020-Apr-08 • 38 minutes
How can we live with coronavirus uncertainty?
In little more than a month, the coronavirus has exploded the sense of certainty, confidence, optimism and control on which so much of modern life, the economy and politics are predicated. Were these always just illusions?
2020-Apr-01 • 45 minutes
Can we cultivate social solidarity in a time of physical distancing?
Any meaningful recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will require imagination, risk, solidarity and vulnerability; it will mean refusing to ‘free-ride’ and a willingness to sacrifice. How can we cultivate this capacity for social solidarity in our time of social fragmentation and mutual distancing?
2020-Mar-25 • 39 minutes
What (new) forms of living might the coronavirus produce?
What new forms of life together — of modesty, prudence, simplicity, mutuality, sociality and cooperation — might we discover under the conditions of scarcity and social isolation imposed by the coronavirus, that perhaps we didn’t envision in more 'normal' times?
2020-Mar-18 • 41 minutes
What does the coronavirus reveal about us?
Is there a way of responding to the coronavirus that is both effective and ethical? That contributes to the tasks of social cohesion and mutual concern?
2020-Mar-11 • 20 minutes
Is capitalism inimical to ethics?
Does capitalism cultivate an ethos, an understanding of the nature of social relations and mutual obligation that is inimical to what might be called the demands of "democratic morality"?
2020-Mar-04 • 39 minutes
International Women’s Day – cause for celebration, or commiseration?
The corporate rebranding of International Women’s Day (IWD) couldn’t be further from the day’s revolutionary roots, or any meaningful discussion of women’s liberation. It negates any discussion of the nature of power under patriarchy, and how relations of power between women and men might be genuinely transformed.
2020-Feb-26 • 46 minutes
Why do we want celebrities to be 'authentic'?
Why it is that we want to know the 'truth' about celebrities? What happens when the very promise of transparency, of authenticity — of intimacy, even — becomes part of the carefully cultivated appearance of celebrity itself?
2020-Feb-19 • 44 minutes
Ordinary vices: What’s wrong with lying?
This week on The Minefield, we explore what Montaigne referred to as "that accursed vice" — the most corrupt and all-corrupting of them all: lying.
2020-Feb-12 • 48 minutes
Why does democracy demand transparency?
Does representative democracy depend on practices of public scrutiny, or exercises of 'popular sovereignty' between elections?
2020-Feb-05 • 50 minutes
In the aftermath of the Iowa caucus …
Every four years, a disproportionate amount of attention is focused on the unlikely midwestern state of Iowa. In a very real way, the Iowa caucuses encapsulate the profound political and ethical challenges that confront the Democratic Party in its bid to defeat Donald Trump in November — challenges that continue to bedevil democratic politics in other countries: How to mobilise voters around a common cause, without tipping over into either absolutism or unprincipled, 'whatever-it-takes' pragmatism?
2020-Jan-29 • 44 minutes
After the fires, are we invited to moral community with trees?
Over the summer months, Australia has witnessed the devastation of forests and the immolation of wildlife on an unimaginable scale. The emotional or even the tragic content of the bushfires has been — understandably — reserved for the loss of human life and home and livelihood, and for the loss of some non-human animals. But why do we grieve fauna and not flora? What if these fires present to us an invitation we refuse to heed: an invitation to rediscover moral companionship, moral community with trees?
2020-Jan-22 • 48 minutes
2020 — why does the future look so much like the past?
Back in 2008, newly elected prime minister Kevin Rudd convened a summit of Australia’s "best and brightest" to discuss what kind of nation they wanted Australia to be in 2020. Now that we’re here, 2020 doesn’t look very much like the future at all. What happened? Is there a lesson here about the importance of adopting a sceptical posture, a profound reticence to claim to know, much less predict, our political future? Or are we just reading the wrong signs?
2020-Jan-15 • 45 minutes
Can we overcome terminal disagreement in our politics and morality?
If the recent glut of "democracy in crisis" books is anything to go by, there is a sense that something has gone wrong in our common life. Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has diagnosed the increasing 'tribalism' in and of our civic and political life particularly acutely, and he joins Waleed and Scott to discuss whether and how we might break free from its Manichean absolutism.
2020-Jan-08 • 43 minutes
What if the greatest threat to a free media was from within?
Our lives are saturated with 'news'; but far from creating informed citizens, this is producing forgetful, inattentive citizens. Megan Le Masurier joins us to discuss whether "slow journalism" could help us remember what matters.
2020-Jan-01 • 47 minutes
Should children be given the vote?
Cambridge historian and host of the Talking Politics podcast, David Runciman, has put forward a radical proposal to extend the vote to children as young as six. Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens discuss whether this is just what is needed to recover a healthy democratic culture.
2019-Dec-25 • 48 minutes
False necessities: Is 'taste' enough to morally justify the mass slaughter of animals?
Is our culinary enjoyment enough to justify a complicity in cruelty which our fellow citizens find reprehensible?
2019-Dec-18 • 46 minutes
Is literary fiction necessary for the moral life?
What does a society lose when it neglects the moral discipline of reading literary fiction?
2019-Dec-11 • 41 minutes
2019 — the year where nothing really mattered?
What stands out to you about 2019? This week, for the last show of 2019, Waleed and Scott discuss the year that was, what it all meant, and what it means for the future of our common life.
2019-Dec-04 • 51 minutes
The dangers of 'clipification'
The media has always been in the business of isolating and mass circulating 'newsworthy' pieces or slivers of reality. But we are living in an age of 'clipification', where reality itself is broken up into highlights tailor-made to be shared and viewed again and again. What does democracy look like in an age of 'clipification'?
2019-Nov-27 • 46 minutes
What’s wrong with swearing?
These days, mass culture, movies, commercial television, music, novels are awash with language that once would have been deemed beyond the pale. Does it still make sense to speak of 'obscene language'? What makes words 'obscene'? Can obscene language be used in such a way that removes the taint from what they refer to?
2019-Nov-20 • 48 minutes
False necessities: Is economic growth a moral good?
Is economic growth a virtuous circle or a Faustian treadmill that benefits some and immiserates others (human and not)?
2019-Nov-13 • 54 minutes
Does "calling-out" do more harm than good?
What is it about "calling-out" someone online or "cancelling" someone guilty of an egregious wrong, that is problematic? Does moral seriousness, in a time of incommensurable disagreement, necessarily need to take the form of moral purity?
2019-Nov-06 • 46 minutes
What happened when the Berlin Wall came down?
The fall of the Berlin Wall thirty years ago is celebrated across the Western world as a world-historical moment: the triumph of freedom over tyranny, of democracy over communism. But is this justified? And why the fascination in the West? Professor of International Relations Sarah Percy joins Waleed and Scott to discuss what the 'fall' of the Berlin Wall revealed, and concealed.
2019-Oct-30 • 45 minutes
What moral obligations does feminism impose on men?
Feminism is undeniably one of the most significant political movements of the last century. So what does feminism demand of men? Meagan Tyler joins Scott and Waleed to discuss whether men can be "feminists"?
2019-Oct-23 • 42 minutes
Does democracy have a problem with conspiracies?
If conspiracism is the consequence of particular conceptions of truth, knowledge, agency, power in democratic politics, is it a problem that can be solved? Professor Sophia Rosenfeld joins us to discuss whether conspiracism become an inescapable, all-pervasive feature of modern life.
2019-Oct-16 • 47 minutes
Was betrayal inevitable?
What obligations does the United States have to the Kurds, and indeed, to the region as a whole? Professor Nader Hashemi from the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver joins us to discuss the past, present and future of the Syrian conflict.
2019-Oct-09 • 45 minutes
Is optimism dangerous for democratic politics?
Modern democratic politics have taken what could be called an 'optimistic turn': a kind of hyperbolic cheeriness in the face of a purported threat; an assurance that the future will be bright, and that only the man at the helm can deliver it. So there’s no need to be anxious. Political philosopher Romand Coles joins Waleed and Scott to discuss why this optimism is the antithesis of genuine democratic hope.
2019-Oct-02 • 52 minutes
Should Donald Trump be impeached? (take two)
Is the damage that Trump is inflicting on US political culture and the office of the executive so egregious that legislative sanction is more important than electoral advantage? We explore the normative and pragmatic considerations of impeaching this president, with Professor Joshua Cohen.
2019-Sep-25 • 45 minutes
Free riding: Why act, when acting is likely to make no difference?
Are there reasons to act in a particular way, to willingly make some sacrifice, do something which may be good, and which we may even be committed to, when our actions (or lack of action) are likely to be of no consequence? Is size detrimental to democratic community? Professor Roger Crisp joins us to discuss whether the free rider problem highlights the limitation of moral philosophy.
2019-Sep-18 • 46 minutes
National security or xenophobic conspiracy?
Is the Australian media’s coverage of China having the effect of both alienating Chinese Australians and promoting a kind of countervailing pro-China nationalism? Professor Wanning Sun joins us to discuss why it is that China has acquired the status in the national imagination of not just a geopolitical threat, but a source of almost existential anxiety.
2019-Sep-11 • 47 minutes
Has virtue become irrelevant to democratic politics?
If liberal democracies are now ailing, maybe even failing, what might a recovery of a politics of virtue look like? We explore the politicisation of morality with guest, Adrian Pabst.
2019-Sep-04 • 50 minutes
Where's the threat to democracy: Boris Johnson or the British Parliament?
In some ways the peculiarities of the Brexit debacle are just the latest manifestation of a much older political tension between democracy and representation. Tim Lynch joins us to discuss whether democracy is about more than 'representation'.
2019-Aug-28 • 45 minutes
Can climate science be communicated without compromising the science?
There is undoubtedly a great need for climate science research to be communicated to the public in a manner that is clear, compelling and that cannot readily be captured, let alone dismissed, by partisan politics. Andrew Pitman joins us to discuss whether climate research can be communicated without pandering to the epistemological and political deficiencies of our time.
2019-Aug-21 • 48 minutes
Can democracy survive the rise of surveillance capitalism?
Advertising has always been about creating desires, not just appealing to an existing demand. And the tension between capitalism and democratic culture is as old as capitalism itself. Soshana Zuboff argues there’s a new form of capitalism with tentacles extending deep into our private lives to influence and modify our behaviour for profit.
2019-Aug-14 • 44 minutes
What does it mean to be 'good'?
Is 'goodness’ still a term that we should be using? Is there a difference between the 'good' and the 'virtuous' character? What is the relationship between action and intention, between the inner and outer life?
2019-Aug-07 • 42 minutes
Facebook’s cryptocurrency — not such a bad idea after all?
The introduction of the Libra would undoubtedly increase Facebook’s power and would certainly disrupt our existing financial systems. But if it diminishes Facebook’s untrammelled sway over news distribution, political communication and the ‘information economy’, is this a price we should be willing to pay?
2019-Jul-31 • 46 minutes
Should children be given the vote?
Cambridge historian and host of the Talking Politics podcast, David Runciman, has put forward a radical proposal to extend the vote to children as young as six. Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens discuss whether this is just what is needed to recover a healthy democratic culture.
2019-Jul-24 • 43 minutes
Can we overcome terminal disagreement in our politics and morality?
If the recent glut of "democracy in crisis" books is anything to go by, there is a sense that something has gone wrong in our common life. Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has diagnosed the increasing 'tribalism' in and of our civic and political life particularly acutely, and he joins Waleed and Scott to discuss whether and how we might break free from its Manichean absolutism.
2019-Jul-17 • 40 minutes
Can Hong Kong’s democratic protests succeed?
Was the extradition bill the 'last straw' around which a torrent of popular discontent in Hong Kong has gathered? Political scientist Ngok Ma discusses whether these protests are aimed at a complete redrawing of the city's relationship to greater China.
2019-Jul-15 • 30 minutes
Bonus - The world in a different light: Iris Murdoch’s philosophical vision
In a century that produced a dizzying array of philosophers and philosophical approaches, few philosophers were as distinctive, and stood out quite so conspicuously, as Iris Murdoch (1919-1999).
2019-Jul-10 • 47 minutes
Voice, Treaty, Truth: What would it mean to truly listen to the First Nations' call for justice?
The invitation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart is to set off on a journey of mutual attentiveness, of truth-telling and peace-making, without a clear sense of the shared destination. Marcia Langton joins us to discuss whether Australia’s political settlement accommodate such a strenuous moral task.
2019-Jul-03 • 43 minutes
How do you solve a problem like Israel Folau?
Is the controversy surrounding Israel Folau just one more example of the tension between incommensurable rights claims: freedom of expression; freedom of religion; freedom from discrimination on the basis of religion or sexuality? Or has Folau simply exposed the limits of political project of liberal tolerance? Constitutional legal theorist and philosopher Patrick Emerton joins Waleed and Scott to unpick this ethical knot.
2019-Jun-26 • 42 minutes
Is democracy an impediment to addressing climate change?
Given democracy’s tendency to prioritise the short-term and appeal to voter self-interest, and given its inherent anthropocentrism, does our ecological crisis warrant bypassing democratic procedures. Political philosopher David Schlosberg argues we need more, not less, democracy.
2019-Jun-19 • 44 minutes
What if the greatest threat to a free media was from within?
Our lives are saturated with 'news'; but far from creating informed citizens, this is producing forgetful, inattentive citizens. Megan Le Masurier joins us to discuss whether "slow journalism" could help us remember what matters?
2019-Jun-12 • 46 minutes
A free press, sure, but free from what? And free for what?
The media plays a vital role in a representative democracy by acting as a check on political power and powerful interests. But is it enough for the free press to provide scrutiny and surveillance? Peter Greste joins us to discuss the ethics of press freedom.
2019-Jun-05 • 10 minutes
Is technology killing democracy?
What if social media and democratic politics serve radically different goals? Tech investor Raina Kumra joins us to discuss whether social media is undermining the conditions of healthy democratic society.
2019-May-29 • 47 minutes
Needs of the Soul: Home
As we wrap up this year’s Ramadan series, we turn to the importance of having a place to be and a people to be among. How does 'love of country' square with our collective failure to address the way we are ravaging our 'common home'?
2019-May-22 • 41 minutes
Needs of the Soul: Hardship
Is there a danger in seeing hardship as something that simply needs to be overcome, and which can be overcome given the right technologies or policies, rather than something that is intrinsic to life?
2019-May-15 • 44 minutes
Needs of the Soul: Conversation
What is 'good' conversation? What are its preconditions? What is its goal? And why is it so important to the moral life?
2019-May-08 • 46 minutes
Needs of the Soul: Silence
During Ramadan, we’re giving concerted attention to what makes for a healthy moral life. In a time characterised by clamour and empty chatter, it’s never been more important — or more difficult — to reclaim the importance of silence.
2019-May-01 • 45 minutes
Would Donald Trump’s impeachment be devastating to America’s democratic culture?
Has the weight of expectation on the findings of the Mueller Report foreclosed serious reflection on whether Trump should be impeached?
2019-Apr-24 • 45 minutes
Social media: promoter of democratic participation or purveyor of violence?
Can social media platforms be anything other than purveyors of violence in countries with deep and long-standing histories of ethnic-religious tensions?
2019-Apr-17 • 48 minutes
False necessities: Is 'taste' enough to morally justify the mass slaughter of animals?
Is our culinary enjoyment enough to justify a complicity in cruelty which our fellow citizens find reprehensible?
2019-Apr-10 • 41 minutes
What are the limits of Australia’s obligations to its citizens?
Do modern nation-states have persistent obligations to their citizens, even when those citizens engage in behaviour that seems to deny their membership to that political community?
2019-Apr-03 • 45 minutes
Is literary fiction necessary for the moral life?
What does a society lose when it neglects the moral discipline of reading literary fiction?
2019-Mar-27 • 45 minutes
Why does antisemitism cut across the political spectrum?
Why is it that most other forms of racist contempt can find a place in the diseased branches of antisemitism?
2019-Mar-20 • 46 minutes
What does the Christchurch shooting demand of us?
Why has it taken the sound of bullets fired and the sight of blood spilled to get some to see Muslims as fully human, as capable of placing demands on our attention or claims for our respect?
2019-Mar-13 • 40 minutes
Would it be wrong to 'rape' a sex robot?
Does ethics have anything to say to the prospect that some of the sexual fantasies enacted on sex robots will, undoubtedly, include 'rape'?
2019-Mar-06 • 51 minutes
Do we have an obligation to pity the guilty?
Does the moral life demand of us a fuller range of emotions beyond anger and contempt?
2019-Feb-27 • 38 minutes
False necessities: Is it time to leave two-party politics behind?
Should we place a premium on the political virtue of compromise instead of the zero-sum game of the two-party contest?
2019-Feb-20 • 44 minutes
What are the dangers of declaring political 'emergencies'?
Does the invocation of a political 'emergency' have corrosive effects on the moral health of a political community?
2019-Feb-13 • 40 minutes
What should politicians do with 'expert advice'?
What is the nature and what are the limits of political decision-making? Just how important — how final — is ministerial responsibility?
2019-Feb-11 • 55 minutes
Bonus: What does it mean to age well?
What are the ethics and obligations of ageing?
2019-Feb-06 • 45 minutes
What do we owe those in need?
What is the nature, and what are the limits, of our responsibility for others? When can we say we've discharged our obligation?
2019-Jan-30 • 42 minutes
Illegal drug use — does ethics have anything to say?
How best to respond to the prevalence, use and associated dangers of illicit drugs presents particular challenges to political decision-making and ethical judgment alike.
2019-Jan-23 • 46 minutes
Should prisons be abolished?
Have prisons outlived their political and moral usefulness? Can we find a moral equivalent to incarceration?
2019-Jan-16 • 46 minutes
How important is truth in democratic politics?
In a democracy, the denial of shared facts also denies the possibility of a shared world in which we can deliberate together.
2019-Jan-09 • 41 minutes
Is Humility a Virtue, Unfashionable or Not?
It is one quality that undergirds all others; it constitutes their ground, their condition of possibility. But is humility the virtue of all virtues?
2019-Jan-02 • 42 minutes
Unfashionable Virtues: Steadfastness
In the ancient world, steadfastness is bound up with personal integrity and interpersonal loyalty. Today, can it provide the basis for dynamic political friendship?
2018-Dec-26 • 44 minutes
Unfashionable Virtues: Forbearance
Should forbearance still be considered a virtue? Or is forbearance ultimately an undesirable response to a hideously unjust world?
2018-Dec-19 • 42 minutes
Can we still enjoy the labours of morally ‘tainted’ artists?
Can we still learn from, use, enjoy or legitimately benefit from the work of people who have committed egregious moral wrongs or who themselves hold morally repugnant beliefs?
2018-Dec-12 • 49 minutes
Was 2018 the year of living undemocratically?
Is there reason to remain hopeful in democracy as a form of peaceful, pluralistic, ethically defensible way of life?
2018-Dec-05 • 44 minutes
Is moral philosophy being killed by hypothetical cases?
Why have hypothetical scenarios come to dominate moral reflection over the last century? Is it time for moral philosophy to abandon its preoccupation with hypothetical cases?
2018-Nov-28 • 39 minutes
Francis Fukuyama and the problem of identity politics
Does the resurgence of notions of “identity” represent a problem to be solved, or does it present an invitation to rediscover a deeper understanding of solidarity?
2018-Nov-21 • 43 minutes
What can fans do when sport becomes ethically intolerable?
Do fans have particular moral responsibilities when it comes to their consumption of, and participation in, professional sport?
2018-Nov-14 • 43 minutes
America after the mid-terms: Just how divided can a democracy become, and survive?
When the conditions of political friendship seem no longer to exist, what democratic resources remain that might begin healing this civic wound?
2018-Nov-07 • 42 minutes
Political interference in university research: What are the limits of 'intellectual freedom'?
Can the ends, the goal, the telos of humanities research be articulated in a way that both demonstrates public benefit and welcomes scrutiny?
2018-Oct-31 • 40 minutes
Why did it take the murder of Jamal Khashoggi to make us re-evaluate Saudi Arabia?
Does the fact that international alarm has flared up so quickly mean that the lividity of concern will fade just as quickly? What would a stance toward the Middle East that is at once informed, realistic and ethically defensible look like?
2018-Oct-24 • 45 minutes
Freedom from discrimination: What is its ethical basis? What is its goal?
Does anti-discrimination legislation present a limit, a countervailing claim, to the right to religious freedom? Can they both be reconciled within a common moral framework?
2018-Oct-17 • 46 minutes
Freedom of religion: What’s being protected? What are its limits?
What happens when two fundamental rights claims — religious freedom and freedom from discrimination — clash with one another?
2018-Oct-10 • 42 minutes
Can, or should, international aid be separated from national interests?
What is the ethical basis for — and what are the limits of — foreign aid?
2018-Oct-03 • 33 minutes
The Kavanaugh hearings: Who, or what, is on trial?
The moral questions that emerge from the competing testimonies of Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford are both profound and far-reaching.
2018-Sep-26 • 44 minutes
Can the Humanities Survive in the Modern University? Can Democracy Survive without the Humanities?
What form should tertiary education take if it is to cultivate virtuous citizens?
2018-Sep-19 • 45 minutes
Sympathy, hypocrisy, responsibility: Who’s to blame for climate change?
What is the nature of moral responsibility when confronted with a problem as complex as climate change?
2018-Sep-12 • 46 minutes
Resisting Trump from within: Civil disobedience, moral vanity or democratic betrayal?
If there are indeed White House officials actively impeding the wishes of a democratically-elected president, on what grounds can they do so? Is there any other way of classifying such behaviour than as a 'coup d'etat'?
2018-Sep-05 • 43 minutes
Does democracy stand a chance against neoliberalism?
What are the democratic practices and forms of organisation that need to be recovered in order to provide meaningful resistance to neoliberalism’s decades-long assault on our common life?
2018-Aug-29 • 44 minutes
What’s wrong with Australian democracy?
Is the way that Australia practices parliamentary democracy broken? Or is there something more perfidious about the fracturing of the political parties themselves that leaves little motivation for anything other than naked ambition?
2018-Aug-22 • 45 minutes
Must public discourse be persuasive?
What are the limits of 'public deliberation'? When is one permitted to pronounce a fellow citizen/member of a political community, 'beyond the pale' or beyond the reach of political communion?
2018-Aug-15 • 45 minutes
How important is truth in democratic politics?
In a democracy, the denial of shared facts also denies the possibility of a shared world in which we can deliberate together.
2018-Aug-08 • 44 minutes
The tragedy of Emma Husar and the ethics of BuzzFeed: What’s in the public interest?
Was the publication of the allegations against the federal Labor MP Emma Husar in 'the public interest'? Or has its haste to scoop its rivals caused BuzzFeed to abandon the temperance and care with which personal lives should be handled — even those of politicians?
2018-Aug-01 • 41 minutes
Can we still enjoy the labours of morally ‘tainted’ artists?
Can we still learn from, use, enjoy or legitimately benefit from the work of people who have committed egregious moral wrongs or who themselves hold morally repugnant beliefs?
2018-Jul-25 • 44 minutes
Does multiculturalism pose a threat to national identity?
The choice between nationalism and multiculturalism is becoming increasingly stark in our time. But what if that choice is a false one?
2018-Jul-18 • 47 minutes
Migration: Do prosperous nations have a moral right to exclude?
Increasingly, prosperous states like Australia are seeking to limit their migrant intake. When do states have a right to exclude migrants in need? Is there a case for 'open borders'?
2018-Jul-11 • 49 minutes
Constitutional Recognition: A Wicked Problem?
Why has constitutional recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples proven to be an impossible 'problem' to solve? And why does it elicit fear among so many Australians?
2018-Jul-04 • 40 minutes
Taxes or Wages: How Best to Address Inequality?
Is taxation overvalued as a way of addressing inequality? Or does taxation have a crucial role in maintaining residual forms of social solidarity and mutual concern in a predominantly neoliberal age?
2018-Jun-27 • 43 minutes
Is Satire an Ethical Form of Speech?
Public and political discourse have grown increasingly intemperate over the past decade. Can satire, in times like these, be an ethical form of speech? Or is it just a progressive variation of 'hate speech'?
2018-Jun-20 • 39 minutes
Is Humility a Virtue, Unfashionable or Not?
It is one quality that undergirds all others; it constitutes their ground, their condition of possibility. But is humility the virtue of all virtues?
2018-Jun-13 • 42 minutes
Unfashionable Virtues: Steadfastness
In the ancient world, steadfastness is bound up with personal integrity and interpersonal loyalty. Today, can it provide the basis for dynamic political friendship?
2018-Jun-06 • 40 minutes
Unfashionable Virtues: Frankness
Is frankness the preference of truth over 'opinion' or does it go beyond that? Is it the willingness to place oneself in a position of vulnerability?
2018-May-30 • 44 minutes
Unfashionable Virtues: Forbearance
Should forbearance still be considered a virtue? Or is forbearance ultimately an undesirable response to a hideously unjust world?
2018-May-23 • 45 minutes
Is Restraint an Unfashionable Virtue?
Is self-restraint a good in itself or is it open to corruption and distortion?
2018-May-16 • 44 minutes
What Makes Torture Wrong?
Is torture morally unconscionable because it is an unreliable means of extracting information? Or is it morally wrong regardless of the quality of information it elicits?
2018-May-09 • 45 minutes
Love-Labour: Is there a moral imperative to do housework?
Have we lost something essential to the moral life – something beyond monetary value – in our pursuit of convenience?
2018-May-02 • 45 minutes
Bad Banks: Can Financial Services be Ethical?
What does the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry say about the nature of money?
2018-Apr-25 • 43 minutes
Anzac Day: Can Australia handle the truth?
Can critical reflection on a nation’s history be cultivated without a sense of national identity and coherence thereby being undermined?
2018-Apr-18 • 40 minutes
Is the ‘gig economy’ just capitalism’s latest form of exploitation?
The ‘gig economy’ promises unparalleled autonomy and flexibility for its workers. But the workers themselves become both capital and labour. Are there conditions under which the ‘gig economy’ might be considered moral? What are the ethical implications for consumers?
2018-Apr-11 • 50 minutes
Can the ‘Sensible Centre’ Survive an Era of Ideological Extremes?
It has long been part of our received political wisdom that Australia is a nation of centrists, but these are not centrist times. What are the political implications in this age of extremes?
2018-Apr-04 • 45 minutes
Martin Luther King, Jr.: Political Saint or Moral Philosopher?
Can Martin Luther King Jr.’s true moral challenge only be heard once he is freed from the theatricalised struggle for civil rights in the South?
2018-Mar-28 • 40 minutes
What does one generation owe another? Tax and social obligation
Modern democratic politics runs up against its limit in the form of the problem of intergenerational justice: How to secure electoral support for just policies, whose benefit will accrue to future voters, but whose cost is borne by voters now?
2018-Mar-21 • 41 minutes
Should you #DeleteFacebook? The perils of platform capitalism
The steady stream of revelations since the 2016 Presidential election reveal that Facebook is simply not interested in democratic participation, but the degree to which it can convert citizens into that most valuable to modern commodities: data.
2018-Mar-14 • 41 minutes
Should Culture be Saved from Becoming too 'Political'?
When serious political issues are subordinated to the commercial logic that governs the production of movies, television, etc., isn't there an irresistible temptation just to give consumers what they want, and thereby to reduce politics to 'good guys' and 'bad guys'?
2018-Mar-07 • 41 minutes
Has #MeToo Gone Too Far, or Not Far Enough?
Can #MeToo bring about a cultural reformation? Can it maintain its passion while also maintaining a commitment to due process?
2018-Feb-28 • 38 minutes
Gun Control: After Florida, Could Change Finally Be Within Reach?
If there is anything more sickening than the gratuitous displays of gun violence that tear at America’s civic fabric, it is the ritualised excuses and political alibis that follow in their wake. But in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School things seem somewhat different.
2018-Feb-21 • 40 minutes
Should Private Lives be Subject to Public Scrutiny?
What is perhaps most alarming in the Barnaby Joyce affair is the lack of basic agreement on some fundamental questions: Should the ‘private lives’ of public figures be the objects of scrutiny? Should workplaces be places where one might reasonably pursue sexual conduct?
2018-Feb-14 • 40 minutes
What Good Did the Apology Do?
The historic Apology to the Stolen Generations was a potentially transformative step towards the righting of egregious wrongs. But were there dynamics at play that conspired to undermine its moral force?
2018-Feb-07 • 40 minutes
Can Politics Be Freed from the Banality of Mass Culture?
In our current media-saturated age, content has become incidental to the real story, which is the entertainment-value of the political spectacle itself. Have politics and mass culture become too inextricably entwined to imagine one without the other?
2018-Jan-31 • 40 minutes
Are Private Schools Morally Justified?
What is the purpose of education? What goods are schools supposed to serve? On what grounds could a parent, justifiably, opt out of the public schooling system?
2018-Jan-24 • 40 minutes
Is There a Morally Credible Case for Not Changing the Date of Australia Day?
As the intensity of the Australia Day protests has grown, so too has the push-back from those who want to keep 26 January as a day of particular patriotic sentiment. But can such counter-arguments be morally justified?
2018-Jan-17 • 41 minutes
Housing (un)affordability: Is social housing a moral imperative?
In a time of gross unaffordability, is the presumption of home ownership a thing of the past?
2018-Jan-10 • 40 minutes
Is Speed Worth the Moral Cost?
In a time of speed, the integrity and intelligibility of our moral lives may well hinge on our capacity to remember that slower is most often best.
2018-Jan-03 • 36 minutes
Can We Do Without Trust?
Unless we cultivate the capacity to trust, are we condemning ourselves to morally emaciated existences defined by fear, envy and mutual disdain?
2017-Dec-27 • 37 minutes
Who Bears Responsibility for Vast Inequality?
Inequality is the defining social and economic reality of our time. But who should bear responsibility when poverty itself becomes moralised?
2017-Dec-20 • 40 minutes
Is it possible to take an ethical holiday?
What are holidays for? What ethical considerations ought to constrain trips to remote and overseas communities? Is tourism just the latest manifestation of the colonial impulse?
2017-Dec-13 • 51 minutes
2017: The Year That Politics Died?
Given the seismic events that shook Western politics in 2016 – most notably, Brexit and the election of Donald Trump – what is most remarkable about 2017 has been its tedium. Politics has become decidedly petty, unambitious and self-referential.
2017-Dec-06 • 35 minutes
Unspeakable Harm: Can Pornography be Understood as a Form of Hate Speech?
Should pornography be considered an expression of hate speech rather than free speech?
2017-Nov-29 • 38 minutes
The ‘Weinstein Effect’: What Dangers Are Lurking Within This Cultural Moment?
What has come to be known as the ‘Weinstein effect’ may well prove the defining moment of 2017. But the fact that it took allegations of this severity to achieve such a cultural groundswell says something about our broader culture of complicity.
2017-Nov-22 • 32 minutes
Do Hospitals Have A Duty To Provide Treatment At Any Cost?
It is becoming increasingly difficult for public hospitals to balance the health and wellbeing of the patient with the stark reality of limited public funds.
2017-Nov-15 • 47 minutes
The Same-Sex Marriage Debate: Are We Better For It?
Has the same-sex marriage debate made the disagreement between both sides more intractable than it was before?