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Lived Experience

Combative, provocative and engaging live debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Anne McElvoy, Mona Siddiqui, Tim Stanley and Matthew Taylor. #moralmaze

Donald Trump claims to have a better understanding of coronavirus following his own diagnosis and treatment. In a video message he said, "I learned it by really going to school. This is the real school. This isn't the let's read the books school. I get it and I understand it.” There are those who believe that directly experiencing a social issue makes for better, more empathic, political decision-making. Critics of the President’s handling of the crisis, however, would argue that it should not have taken a threat to his own health for him to “get it”, and that empathy is something you’ve either got or you haven’t. This has wider implications; “lived experience” is a central tenet of social justice. It has become an established part of the way we interact, debate and reason in the public square. Is there something irreplaceable about experiencing what others merely intellectualise about? Should lived experience play a greater role in policy-making? It is often argued that someone’s opinion lacks legitimacy if they have not been directly affected by the issue at hand – whether poverty, racism or disability – and that it is often through emotional human stories that these issues can be truly tackled. Others believe that while subjective experience can illuminate a problem, it can also cloud moral judgment and should not be presented at the expense of objective evidence. Moreover, the idea that only certain people are allowed to opine about particular subjects, some say, is potentially divisive and dangerous. To what extent should the lived experience of a person give them moral authority? With Alan Johnson, Prof. Jonathan Portes, Ash Sarkar and Prof. Sharon Wright.

Producer: Dan Tierney.

Available now

43 minutes


  • Wed 7 Oct 2020 20:00

The Evidence Toolkit

The Evidence Toolkit

Check out the claims made in news stories with this interactive tool.