Moral Authority of Institutions

Bloody Sunday, Leveson, Hillsborough, Chilcott, Mid Staffordshire NHS, Savile - just some of the more notable examples of public inquiries of the last few years and hardly a week goes by without a call for another hearing into some perceived scandal or injustice. MPs, police, journalists, NHS carers, local government, the church - it seems there's hardly any major institution left in this country that hasn't been undermined by scandal and in the name of 'transparency' many institutions seem willing, even eager, to expose their inner workings and problems. At the heart of these cases there are of course victims who need answers and redress and we're told that by exposing these institutions or organisations to transparent public scrutiny "lessons will be learnt". Institutions are an essential component of civil society; a focus for shared values and solidarity; can we expect our institutions to function properly in an atmosphere of constant critical scrutiny? Has this ever growing clamour for inquiries, often fuelled by freedom of information requests, just undermined their moral integrity? In our pursuit of transparency have we sacrificed the moral authority of some of the very organisations that are vital to the moral wellbeing of our society? In an age dominated by new social networks, is this process an essential part of re-defining social solidarity or is the passion for openness actually generating a kind of corrosive suspicion that destroys trust not just in institutions but in our day-to-day lives?

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Melanie Phillips, Matthew Taylor and Giles Fraser.

Witnesses: Nicholas Rengger - Professor of Political Theory & International Relations, University of St Andrews, Phillip Blond - Respublica, Dr Karl Mackie - Chief Executive, Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution and Oliver Kamm - Leader Writer and columnist for The Times.

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43 minutes

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Sat 27 Oct 2012 22:15