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Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times

Wednesday 10.06.2020


Rabbi Sacks and Daniel Finkelstein discuss Rabbi Sacks’s book Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times, exploring the challenges of individualistic vs. collectivistic cultures in the pandemic and in society as a whole. A major work of moral philosophy, Morality is an inspiring vision of a world in which we can all find our place and face the future without fear.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

an image of Jonathan Sacks

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks was a global religious leader, philosopher, the author of more than 30 books, and a moral voice for our time. Described by H.R.H. The Prince of Wales as “a light unto this nation,” he was a frequent and respected contributor to radio, television, and the press both in Britain and around the world. Admired by non-Jews as much as Jews, by secular as well as religious thinkers, and equally at home in the university and the yeshiva, Rabbi Sacks held eighteen honorary degrees and was awarded numerous prizes in recognition of his work, including the 2016 Templeton Prize. He served as chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1991 until 2013, and read Philosophy at Cambridge before pursuing postgraduate studies at New College, Oxford, and King’s College, London.

Lord Daniel Finkelstein

an image of Daniel Finkelstein

Lord Daniel Finkelstein OBE is a former politician and is currently associate rditor of the Times. He is also a lead writer and a weekly political columnist. Before joining the Times in 2001, he was adviser to both Prime Minister John Major and conservative leader William Hague. He is the chairman of Policy Exchange and was elevated to the House of Lords in August 2013.

I think we’ve had a most outstanding tutorial in leadership from the 39-year-old young lady who is prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern. Compassionate, empathetic, engaged, but nonetheless a very, very scientifically well-informed, exceptionally honest. I mean, they’ve had several weeks now with no new cases and certainly no new deaths.

The defensive answer is you proceed in journalism by asking questions and by attempting, as opposed to disproving hypotheses, to find out things that maybe governments don’t want to find, to find the holes in the narrative. And at a moment when countries are putting a huge amount of effort into their collective lockdowns, for example, it can be very annoying to have that. So I understand why people find what they regard as a sort of constant negativity in questioning. But that is I think to some extent the role of the media.

I think quite a lot of journalistic coverage is very tactical and quite short-term. Because we’re at a very early stage in the COVID-19 crisis even now… and journalists often think immediately and tactically. They want an answer that day. And that’s because we have to put it in tomorrow’s newspapers.

Actually, I don’t discuss artificial intelligence in the book. I wish I had. Artificial intelligence, which is machines trained to think like us, only faster and than more thoroughly, can be a huge help. Already, for instance, just by scanning a human retina, it can detect instantly any one of 54 retinal diseases or faults. The diagnostics of artificial intelligence are absolutely huge. And in general, if we keep it ethically supervised, then I’m very much in favour of it.