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In a talk from 2009's Free Thinking festival, scientist Tom Shakespeare asks how art can help solve complex moral issues like the right to die and ante-natal disability screeening.

Free Thinking 2009

Matthew Sweet presents a talk given at The Sage Gateshead as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking festival, in which bioethicist and disability specialist Tom Shakespeare asks how art can help us understand today's difficult moral issues.

He believes that in many of today's contentious and emotional public debates - for example around disability, ante-natal screening or even the heated discussion of the right to die - there are often no clear answers. Neither science, nor social research, nor ethical reasoning can tell us what to do - much as we may wish for them to do so.

Instead, Tom argues it is not science, but rather art that can help us think through these modern dilemmas by making space for the emotion and complexity they need. He demands we think of art as a 'tool for thinking', explaining why as a scientist he believes we need to involve art in some of our most difficult social and ethical decisions - because it will help us in unexpected ways.

Available now

45 minutes


Free Thinking

Free Thinking

Radio 3’s new home for arts and ideas.