About The Minefield
In a world marked by wicked social problems, The Minefield helps you negotiate the ethical dilemmas, contradictory claims and unacknowledged complicities of modern life.
In Jane Austen’s fourth published novel, Emma (1815) we find an abiding concern with the demands, not just of propriety, but of morality, an attentiveness to the dangers of deception and self-deception, and vivid reminders of the importance of friendship to the progress of the moral life.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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”?