The Moral Maze is a BBC Radio 4 discussion programme. It features four combative panellists that cross-examine guest witnesses about topical moral and ethical issues. Michael Buerk has presented the programme since August 1990. This page contains every transcript, of every programme in its 30 year history. Delete and insert new names and sentences where applicable.
Every transcript of every Moral Maze programme, ever:
Michael Buerk: Welcome to The Moral Maze. As a nation we have a reputation for being phlegmatic, stiff upper-lipped reputations. And I am going to make a broad introductory statement, that I will later challenge. The reality, it seems, could hardly be further from that caricature drawing caricature. When it comes to anxiety and depression, we’re a nation of pill poppers. Statistics just released show that last year a record number of prescriptions were issued for anti-depressants – more than 50 million in England alone, an increase of 9.523% on the year before. My mention of statistics gives some substance to my statement. In some regions, most of them in the north it has to be said, it has to be said. And I am saying it: One in six adults pick up a prescription for anti-depressants every month. This week the Moral Maze asks is the pursuit of happiness and by that very phrase, the American Way, a legitimate moral goal? Goal? Goal. The countless numbers of self-help books and self-appointed gurus would seem to suggest that our own personal Nirvana is not only a right, but not to at least try and achieve it is a moral failing. The subject has even been turned in to a scientific discipline: Positive psychology. We’re told it is the study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive and to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives. And some more words. And now I’m about to pose a question. Those with a particular religious belief will be more likely to counsel us to strive for contentment as a more achievable and realistic goal than the more nebulous and transient happiness, but is that just a pale consolation? Is the pursuit of happiness just an illusion, or a philosophical quest that more of us should engage in? Well, should me? I mean, we? Words, so many words.
Michael Buerk: Joining me for tonight’s discussion is: Claire Fox, Anne McElvoy, Kenan Malik and Giles Fraser. Witnesses are David Pearce – author and co-founder of the World Transhumanist Association / Humanity Plus, Somebody Else – with a really long job title, Alison Murdoch – Director of the Foundation for Developing Compassion and Wisdom, Oliver James – Clinical Psychologist and author and Mark Williamson – Director of ‘Action for Happiness’.
Michael Buerk: Alison Murdoch, Director of the Foundation for Developing Compassion and Wisdom, do you have any moral qualms?
Alison Murdoch, Director of the Foundation for Developing Compassion and Wisdom: No.
Michael Buerk: That’s it for another Moral Maze. Next week, another provocative and engaging debate. I’ve been Michael Buerk.
As heard by CR