Morality in the 21st Century

Morality in the 21st Century

A BBC Radio 4 Philosophy and Ethics Series


Rabbi Jonathan Sacks speaks to the world's leading thinkers about morality today

In this fascinating series Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks explores what morality means, speaking with globally renowned thinkers, as well as voices from the next generation.

From Steven Pinker and Robert Putnam to Melinda Gates and Jordan Peterson, the guests discuss the free market and the financial crash, selfies and social media, individuals and tribalism, artificial intelligence, role models, and rediscovering politics of the common good.

With each topic, Rabbi Sacks also talks with teenagers from Manchester, London and Hertfordshire about how they engage with moral questions, and what they see as the greatest moral struggles that Generation Z will face.

Production credits
Presented by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Producer: Dan Tierney
Series Editor: Christine Morgan

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 3-7 September 2018

Episode 1: Responsibility
How can we pursue our own interests without feeling vulnerable and isolated? With Jordan Peterson, Noreena Hertz, and Michael Sandel.

Episode 2: Jordan Peterson
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks speaks to Jordan Peterson, professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto, and discusses how moral codes are formed.

Episode 3: Noreena Hertz
Noreena Hertz, economist, author and broadcaster, gives her verdict on the current state of capitalism and explores the failure of markets to deliver moral outcomes.

Episode 4: The Selfie Generation
How does a culture of selfies impact the way we live our lives? With Jean Twenge, Professor of psychology at San Diego State University, and David Brooks, political and social commentator and author.

Episode 5: Jean Twenge
Rabbi Sacks meets with Jean Twenge to explore why children with higher internet usage seem to have the lowest outcomes for happiness, resilience and tolerance.

Episode 6: David Brooks
David Brooks, the New York Times columnist, shares with Rabbi Sacks his thoughts on how individualism has gone too far.

Episode 7: Is Society a Myth?
What happens when we move from "we're all in this together" to "I'm free to be myself"? With Jonathan Haidt, Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University, and Robert Putnam, Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University.

Episode 8: Jonathan Haidt
Rabbi Sacks talks to Jonathan Haidt, who is concerned about the destructive forms of tribalism in society today.

Episode 9: Robert Putnam
Why have social bonds collapsed in America, and what does that mean for the rest of the world? Rabbi Sacks and Robert Putnam discuss the importance of social capital.

Episode 10: Artificial Intelligence
How can humans continue to choose our fate in a world of AI? With Mustafa Suleyman, Co-founder and Head of Applied AI at DeepMind, and Nick Bostrom, Philosophy Professor at the University of Oxford.

Episode 11: Mustafa Suleyman
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks speaks to Mustafa Suleyman at one of the world's leading innovators in Artificial Intelligence, and explores the biggest moral questions around AI.

Episode 12: Nick Bostrom
In a further examination of the moral challenges of AI, Rabbi Sacks talks again with Nick Bostrom, who was one of the first to warn of the dangers of 'superintelligence'.

Episode 13: Moral Heroes
Who are the role models of the next generation, and do they provide hope for a better, more ethical and more responsible world? With Steven Pinker, Melinda Gates, Michael Sandel, and Jordan Peterson.

Episode 14: Steven Pinker and Melinda Gates
Rabbi Sacks meets with Steven Pinker to hear his reasons for hope for a better world, and with Melinda Gates to explore the motivations for her philanthropy.

Episode 15: Michael Sandel
In the final episode, Rabbi Sacks and the world-renowned political philosopher Michael Sandel discuss how we can return to a politics of the common good.

© 2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd. (P) BBC Studios Distribution Ltd.

About the author

Jonathan Sacks

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