Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Reith Lectures

The social encyclical is due to be signed at the end of June. In the meantime, you could do a lot worse than sharpen your mind by reading or listening to the 2009 Reith Lectures on BBC Radio 4. This year's lecturer in the prestigious series is Harvard political philosopher Michael Sandel, and his lectures, entitled A New Citizenship, are about "the prospect for a new politics of the common good". (The Radio 4 website has podcasts and transcripts available.) Outlining the subject matter for his lectures, Professor Sandel said: "The Reith lectures have a storied tradition of engaging the life of the mind and the public square. At a time of political change and economic turmoil, we need new thinking about the common good: What, in an age of globalisation, are the moral limits of markets? What should be the place of moral and spiritual values in public life? How is biotechnology transforming our relation to nature and the environment?"

The lectures are being broadcast both on Radio 4 and the BBC World Service. The first ever Reith lecturer was the philosopher Bertrand Russell in 1948, who spoke on "Authority and the Individual". Professor Sandel is the author of Liberalism And The Limits Of Justice (Cambridge University Press, 1982, 2nd edition, 1997), Democracy's Discontent (Harvard University Press, 1996), Public Philosophy: Essays On Morality In Politics (Harvard University Press, 2005), and The Case Against Perfection: Ethics In The Age Of Genetic Engineering (Harvard University Press, 2007).

Also well worth noting and reading is a series of articles by Mick Brown in the Telegraph Magazine, called 'High Street: High Noon', looking at the recession and the world that is emerging from the ashes. The first article looks at the High Street in Chester and goes on to examine the impact of alternative economics in Totnes - fascinating!

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