Ethics Bites: new Open University podcast series addresses moral issues

February 28, 2008 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
Some of the most contentious moral issues of today’s society are the focus of Ethics Bites – a new series of podcasts from The Open University that features contributions from some of the most eminent commentators in the field drawn from across the world.

The latest thinking on issues as diverse as climate change, euthanasia, censorship of the arts and corporate responsibility is drawn together for the series, the first podcasts of which are now available at (

Applied ethics is a central theme; at the core of each programme in the 14-part series are the connections between the issue and its everyday implications. Nigel Warburton, senior lecturer in philosophy at the University and a best-selling author, is the interviewer for the podcasts. He said “Ethics Bites focuses on real and pressing moral issues.. Philosophy is often condemned for being divorced from reality, but that’s hardly an accusation that could be levelled at Ethics Bites, which tackles some of our most contentious topics head on. “Some of these are quite broad, such as how we should treat animals. Others are more specific, shedding new light on particular issues of the day, such as the sale of body organs, and the ethics of genetic enhancement in sport.”

Contributors include a trio of US-based professors – Peter Singer, whose interview about animal rights begins the series; Michael Sandel (on sport and genetic enhancement); and Thomas Scanlon (on freedom of speech). Other contributors include Mary Warnock (on the right to have babies), Janet Radcliffe Richards (on organ sales) and James Garvey (on climate change). Nigel Warburton added: “From the general to the specific, from art to business and sport – and from sex, to babies and the family, to death – Ethics Bites is an absorbing series of interviews. It was a great privilege to be able to discuss these topics with some of the most eminent thinkers in the field.”

The series’ academic consultant is Derek Matravers, senior lecturer in philosophy at the OU. He said of the series: “This was a very timely investment for the OU, as we are pushing ahead with new courses and an Ethics Centre. We knew the team behind this project would get the best people in the field, and would produce some fascinating interviews. They certainly have not disappointed, and we hope that anyone who listens to any of these will be inspired to take their interest further, and perhaps take one of our courses.”

Subsequent podcasts are made available weekly on Wednesdays. The interviews are produced and introduced by David Edmonds, who has a PhD in Philosophy from The Open University and who is co-author of the bestseller Wittgenstein’s Poker.