|19 September, 2021||Filled under Debates, Forthcoming Events, Uncategorized||
Tuesday 2 November 7 pm
Liverpool 1 3DD
The Liverpool Salon was founded to foster free and open debate. Join us, with guest speakers Piers Benn, Timandra Harkness and Philip Waldron, to discuss the philosophical, historical and political complexities of free thinking and free speech in an era of culture wars and uncertainty about the limits of tolerance and political freedoms.
Whether debating the effects of Lockdowns, or Brexit, or the rights and wrongs of Black Lives Matter, political discourse today inevitably splits into angry, polarised oppositions. With noisy twitter pile-ons, demands that speakers be ‘cancelled’ and even threats of physical violence, it seems that anger and the giving and taking of offence have become strategies for winning arguments. Can’t we draw a line between passionate disagreement and snarling invective? For surely, in the battle to win hearts and minds, persuasion is more effective than polemic.
Before lamenting a supposedly lost civility, history shows that political battles have frequently been conducted through invective and ferocious satire. From the Peasants’ Revolt to the Reformation and the English Revolution, history also reminds us of the power of righteous anger as a force for mobilising popular demands for equality, justice and democratic control. It comes as no surprise that those in power frequently defend vested interests by painting their political enemies as uncivil, ill-educated and unruly mobs, disposed to violence and susceptible to fanatics and rabble-rousers.
Should we welcome the return of more passionate and angry political contestation? Do we need to grow thicker skins and build stronger arguments to overcome insults and confront our opponents? Or, does angry invective signal a retreat from the hard work of winning hearts and minds? Can we find ways of speaking frankly, fearlessly and freely in defence of issues, upon which we passionately disagree? Or perhaps cultivate a greater acceptance of our own fallibility and a greater tolerance or even excitement about ideas that we find difficult and unsettling.
Tickets via Eventbrite
Dr Piers Benn is currently a Visiting Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Roehampton and the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology in Cambridge. He has recently been a Visiting Lecturer at Heythrop College, University of London and an Adjunct Professor at Fordham University London Centre. He has held Lectureships in Philosophy at the Universities of St. Andrews and Leeds, and in Medical Ethics & Law at Imperial College London. His interests focus on Ethics, Philosophy of Religion, free speech and toleration and Philosophy of Psychiatry. In addition to his recent book Intellectual Freedom and the Culture Wars, he has recently published on free speech and blasphemy law and is currently writing on the state of free enquiry and speech in the UK, for an international project. He has published essays in Quillette and Areo and is an occasional commentator in the media.
Timandra Harkness is a journalist, writer and broadcaster. She writes and presents BBC Radio 4’s FutureProofing and How To Disagree series, and documentaries including Data, Data Everywhere, Personality Politics, and Supersense Me for BBC Radio 4, and Are You A Numbers Person? for the BBC World Service. She was resident reporter on social psychology series The Human Zoo. Since winning the Independent newspaper’s column-writing competition, Timandra has written for publications including the Telegraph, Guardian, Sunday Times, Men’s Health and Significance (the journal of the Royal Statistical Society). Timandra is a Visiting Fellow (Knowledge Exchange) in Big Data, Information Rights and Public Engagement with the Centre for Information Rights at the University of Winchester. A member of the Royal Statistical Society, she is a founder member of their Special Interest Group on Data Ethics.
Rev. Philip Waldron is a Unitarian District Minister for Merseyside. His principle churches are Ullet Road Church, Wirral and Southport Unitarians. This is Philip’s first Ministry. Philip graduated from Luther King House (Ecumenical College) in 2015, studying Contextual Theology. Philip also attended Bishop Grosseteste College in Lincoln, gaining a BA in Community Theatre. Philip has been published contributing to ‘Liverpool Unitarians: Faith & Action’ (2014). Philip ran a community theatre company in Liverpool from 2005 – 2010, producing original plays which explored themes of social class, The Duel (2006), The Vindictive Duchess (2007). Philip has hosted the Liverpool Salon at Ullet Road and spoke at our Reigniting Radicalism debate in 2015.
Pauline Hadaway is co-founder of The Liverpool Salon and completed her doctoral research at the University of Manchester, examining the cultural economy and the politics of peace building in Northern Ireland after the Good Friday Agreement. She works as a researcher and writer, most recently, ‘Escaping the Panopticon’, a chapter in Photography Reframed: visions in photographic culture, published by I.B. Tauris (2018) and ‘Callaghan in Northern Ireland’ in James Callaghan: an underrated Prime Minister (eds. Kevin Hickson and Jaspar Miles) co-authored with Kevin Bean (2020).