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Open to Debate

News & Politics Podcasts

America is more divided than ever—but it doesn’t have to be. Open to Debate offers an antidote to the chaos. We bring multiple perspectives together for real, nonpartisan debates. Debates that are structured, respectful, clever, provocative, and driven by the facts. Open to Debate is on a mission to restore balance to the public square through expert moderation, good-faith arguments, and reasoned analysis. We examine the issues of the day with the world’s most influential thinkers spanning science, technology, politics, culture, and global affairs. It’s time to build a stronger, more united democracy with the civil exchange of ideas. Be open-minded. Be curious. Be ready to listen. Join us in being Open to Debate. (Formerly Intelligence Squared U.S.)

Location:

United States

Description:

America is more divided than ever—but it doesn’t have to be. Open to Debate offers an antidote to the chaos. We bring multiple perspectives together for real, nonpartisan debates. Debates that are structured, respectful, clever, provocative, and driven by the facts. Open to Debate is on a mission to restore balance to the public square through expert moderation, good-faith arguments, and reasoned analysis. We examine the issues of the day with the world’s most influential thinkers spanning science, technology, politics, culture, and global affairs. It’s time to build a stronger, more united democracy with the civil exchange of ideas. Be open-minded. Be curious. Be ready to listen. Join us in being Open to Debate. (Formerly Intelligence Squared U.S.)

Language:

English


Episodes
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The Pursuit of Happiness: Virtue or Pleasure?

5/17/2024
Happiness is a complex emotion and mental state that can be achieved through virtue or pleasure. But should it be for the good of the individual or society? Those in favor of virtue point to the Stoics and the Founding Fathers, saying you should strive for a life of moral virtue and rationality. Those in favor of pleasure say everyone should be able to experience it and define their sources of happiness. Now we debate: The Pursuit of Happiness: Virtue or Pleasure? Arguing Virtue: Jeffrey Rosen, CEO & President of the National Constitution Center; Author of “The Pursuit of Happiness: How Classical Writers on Virtue Inspired the Lives of the Founders and Defined America” Arguing Pleasure: Roger Crisp, Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Oxford; Uehiro Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at St. Anne's College, Oxford Nayeema Raza, Journalist at New York Magazine and Vox, is the guest moderator. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:53:15

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MOCK TRIAL: Should the Courts Restrict Access to the Abortion Pill?

5/10/2024
The Supreme Court will soon decide on a case surrounding a medication used for abortion, mifepristone, and whether the drug should continue to be available based on claims of safety and ethical considerations. Those in favor of restrictions argue that the FDA fast-tracked its approval without considering health impacts. Those against restriction argue the FDA made its decisions based on safety and efficiency, and it’s being targeted to further infringe on women’s rights. Now we debate: Should the Courts Restrict Access to the Abortion Pill? Petitioner: Julia Kaye, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project Respondent: Catherine Glenn Foster, Senior Fellow in Legal Policy at the Charlotte Lozier Institute Judge's Chair: John Donvan, Moderator-in-Chief and Emmy award-winning journalist Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:53:15

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Should Elite Universities Reinstate the SAT?

5/3/2024
Many colleges during the pandemic decided to make their applications test-optional, but new research has elite colleges rethinking that policy. Those in favor of reinstating say the SAT is the best way to bring talented students from all socioeconomic levels into the fold. Those against it say it favors the affluent and argue that admissions decisions should be based on a holistic, more inclusive review that considers a wide range of factors Now we debate: Should Elite Universities Reinstate the SAT? Arguing Yes: John Friedman, Professor and Chair of the Economics Department at Brown University Arguing No: Ben Nelson, Founder of Minerva University Emmy award-winning journalist John Donvan moderates Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:53:15

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Is Free Speech Threatened on Campus?

4/26/2024
Tensions have been ramping up at universities across the country as students continue to protest the war in Gaza. Reports of antisemitism, islamophobia, and harassment have led to concerns that some students have crossed a line into hateful and threatening speech that requires intervention. Others contend that efforts to clamp down on protests in the name of campus safety suppresses free speech. Within that context, we revisit this debate on adjacent issues from a few years back to see what lessons that can be applied to the current situation: Is Free Speech Threatened on Campus? Arguing Yes: John McWhorter, Linguist and Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University; Wendy Kaminer, Writer and Lawyer Arguing No: Shaun Harper, Founder and Executive Director of the USC Race and Equity Center; Jason Stanley, Professor of Philosophy at Yale University Emmy award-winning journalist John Donvan moderates Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:53:15

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Ban the Box: Should We Banish the Criminal History Check Box from Job Applications?

4/19/2024
Former criminal offenders in the United States face challenges reentering the job market after incarceration and so-called “Ban the Box” policies aim to fix this. This criminal justice initiative calls for removing questions about criminal history from job applications and delaying background checks. Those against "the box" argue former offenders shouldn’t continue to be punished and it prevents societal reintegration. Those in favor of early screening argue employers have a responsibility to ensure their business’s safety and make informed hiring decisions. Those who are against it argue former offenders shouldn’t continue to be punished and it prevents societal reintegration. Now we debate: Ban the Box: Should We Banish the Criminal History Check Box from Job Applications? Arguing Yes: Beth Avery, Senior Staff Attorney at the National Employment Law Project Arguing No: Jennifer Doleac, Executive Vice President of Criminal Justice at Arnold Ventures Emmy award-winning journalist John Donvan moderates Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:53:15

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Should Congress Stop Funding the War in Ukraine?

4/12/2024
The U.S. has provided more than $75 billion in aid to Ukraine in its war against Russia. Some Congress members question whether we have done enough to help, and they say increased funding sustains strategic interests and demonstrates support of democratic values. Those who say we should stop funding the war, argue that Ukraine can’t win and additional U.S. dollars will prolong the loss of human lives and territory. Now we debate, in partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations: Should Congress Stop Funding the War in Ukraine? Arguing Yes: John Mearsheimer, Political Science Professor at the University of Chicago; Daniel L. Davis, Retired Lieutenant Colonel, Senior Fellow and Military Expert at Defense Priorities Arguing No: Heather Conley, President of German Marshall Fund of the United States; Paula Dobriansky, Former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs; Senior Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Vice Chair, Atlantic Council Scowcroft Center for Strategy & Security Emmy award-winning journalist John Donvan moderates Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:53:15

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Is Religion a Force for Good?

4/5/2024
Religion has long shaped human civilization, and many have wondered whether it’s good for society. Those who argue “yes” say it offers a sense of identity and belonging and provides a moral compass to do good acts. Those who argue “no” say that religious beliefs are a source of historical and conflict and discrimination and can hinder social progress that clash with modern values. Now we debate: Is Religion a Force for Good? Arguing Yes: Shadi Hamid, Columnist and Editorial Board Member of The Washington Post; Assistant Research Professor of Islamic Studies at Fuller Seminary Arguing No: Annie Laurie Gaylor, Co-Founder and Co-President of the Freedom from Religion Foundation Emmy award-winning journalist John Donvan moderates Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:53:15

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Childhood Obesity Guidelines: Good Medicine or Too Extreme?

3/29/2024
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released new guidelines to address childhood obesity, affecting over 14 million children, including recommendations for weight loss medications and surgery. Those who consider the guidelines good medicine say that it is a step forward in recognizing obesity as a condition requiring a range of medical interventions. Those who think the guidelines are too extreme worry these approaches could impact mental health and body image, contributing to weight stigma and shame. Now we debate: Childhood Obesity Guidelines: Good Medicine or Too Extreme? Arguing "Good Medicine: Dr. Julia Nordgren, Pediatric Lipid Specialist at Palo Alto Medical Foundation; Attending Physician at the Stanford Weight Clinic Arguing "Too Extreme": Dr. Janna Gewirtz O'Brien, Pediatrician and Assistant Professor at University of Minnesota Medical School Emmy award-winning journalist John Donvan moderates Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:53:15

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Should the US Ban Tik Tok?

3/22/2024
With one billion active users across more than 150 countries, TikTok is by many measures one of the world’s most successful video apps — and half of Americans use it. The House of Representatives has passed a bill that could ban the social media company in the U.S. if its parent company, Bytedance, does not divest from it and requires TikTok to be bought by a country that is not a U.S. adversary. Those supporting such a move often point to a ban on another Chinese tech giant, Huawei, as an effective means of limiting China’s influence and bring up concerns the app could be used to leak Americans’ data to China for surveillance, making it a security risk. Those who argue against it say a ban would undermine what has become an important tool in the video marketplace, and that such efforts are not only politically motivated but are also easily bypassed. In that context, we debate the question: Should the U.S. Ban TikTok? Arguing Yes: Kori Schake, Senior Fellow and Director of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute Arguing No: Milton Mueller, Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology School of Public Policy; Founder and Director of the Internet Governance Project Emmy award-winning journalist John Donvan moderates Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:53:15

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Does Taylor Swift Deserve Her Billion Dollar Fortune?

3/15/2024
Taylor Swift achieved her billionaire status because of her talent, work ethic, and support from her fans. But some question whether any individual should be able to accumulate so much wealth. Those arguing they should point to philosopher Robert Nozick, who says if someone acquires wealth through just means, they are entitled to it. Those arguing “no” say that luck and systemic advantages often play a role, sometimes involving exploitation, and that billionaires have an outsized influence on policy. Now we debate: Does Taylor Swift Deserve Her Billion Dollar Fortune? Arguing Yes: Jessica Flanigan, Political Philosopher and Chair in Ethics and Democratic Values at the University of Richmond Arguing No: Ingrid Robeyns, Chair in Ethics of Institutions at Utrecht University's Ethics Institute; Author of "Limitarianism: The Case Against Extreme Wealth" Emmy award-winning journalist John Donvan moderates Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:53:15

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Should We Address the Gender Wage Gap?

3/8/2024
American women are, on average, paid 84 cents for every dollar men make, according to the Department of Labor. This wage gap has persisted despite near-record rates of women’s participation in the labor market, with wage gaps even larger for women in minority populations, and it’s estimated that pay parity will not be achieved until 2052. Should policy interventions address these disparities, or is it more important to recognize and honor women's personal decisions and find another way to look at the gap Those in favor of fixing the gap see it as a point of fairness and equity that would bring economic benefits, such as enhanced family incomes and increased productivity, and say that new policies are needed urgently to dismantle systemic barriers stopping women from earning more. Those who aren’t in favor argue wage disparities reflect individual choices regarding career paths, work-life balance, and tenure, rather than systemic discrimination. They also point out that when adjusted for factors like job type, hours worked, and career breaks, the gap significantly narrows. Against this backdrop, we debate the question: Should We Address the Gender Wage Gap? Arguing Yes: Kadie Ward, Commissioner and Chief Administrative Officer of the Pay Equity Commission of Ontario Arguing No: Allison Schrager, Pension Economist, Bloomberg Opinion Contributor & Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute Nayeema Raza, Journalist at New York Magazine and Vox, is the guest moderator. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:53:15

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Has Citizens United Undermined Democracy?

3/1/2024
In a high-stakes presidential election year, in partnership with the Newt and Jo Minow Debate Series at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, Open to Debate is taking a look at more than a decade of the Citizens United Supreme Court case. The 2010 landmark decision that ruled the free speech clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent expenditures for political communications by corporations, including nonprofits, labor unions, and other associations, changed the landscape of political spending in the U.S. This gave rise to Super PACS and an increase in election campaign spending. Since then, there have been questions about whether the decision has harmed our democratic process. Those who support the decision argue it upholds free speech, allowing diverse voices in the political arena, and broadens the range of discourse by enabling groups to freely express their views and support candidates or policies. Those against it argue that it allows a disproportionate influence from corporations and special interest groups, and leaves the voices of ordinary citizens overshadowed by the financial resources of a few, eroding the principles of equality and fair representation. With this context, we debate the question: Has Citizens United Undermined Democracy? This debate is presented in partnership with the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law as part of the Newt and Jo Minow Debate Series. It will be recorded live in person on Wednesday, February 21, 2024, at the Thorne Auditorium at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law in Chicago, Illinois. Arguing Yes: Francesca Procaccini, Assistant Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University Law School; Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Professor of Law at Stetson University Arguing No: Floyd Abrams, Senior Counsel at Cahill Gordon & Reindel; Eric Wang, Partner at The Gober Group, pro bono Senior Fellow at the Institute for Free Speech  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:57:28

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Debate: Coleman Hughes and Jamelle Bouie on Color Blindness for Black History Month

2/23/2024
During Black History Month, we reflect on a debate that confronts America’s complex history with racial and social inequality. How can we ensure fair treatment for all in the workplace, on campuses, and in our personal interactions? Is it possible to imagine a future beyond race? As we honor this month of remembrance and celebration, we revisit a conversation that confronts the challenges of our past and the promise of a future that aspires to secure equitable opportunities for all. Arguing Yes: Jamelle Bouie, Columnist for the New York Times Arguing No: Coleman Hughes, Host of the “Conversations with Coleman” podcast and Contributing Writer at The Free Press Emmy award-winning journalist John Donvan moderates Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:53:15

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Unresolved: The Iran Threat

2/16/2024
Iran’s regional role has changed post-October 7, but is Iran a bigger global threat than we think? In partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations, National Security Council and State Department veterans will debate in our Unresolved format Biden’s Iran diplomacy, Iran's use of proxies in the Middle East, its nuclear ambitions, and whether Iran now poses a threat to the global order. Michael Doran, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Peace and Security in the Middle East at the Hudson Institute Barbara Slavin, Distinguished Fellow at the Stimson Center Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow for Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations Emmy award-winning journalist John Donvan moderates Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:53:15

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How to Resolve Conflict in Relationships: A Conversation with Esther Perel

2/9/2024
Couples have arguments over many topics. However, it’s through resolving conflict that both people in the relationship feel heard and seen. Psychotherapist, relationship expert, and New York Times-bestselling author Esther Perel says conflict when navigated skillfully can lead to growth, resilience, and a stronger bond. In this conversation with John Donvan, Perel discusses her new online course, shares her experience working with different relationship types, strategies for transforming conflict into a constructive dialogue, and the importance of validating both sides’ perspectives. Our guest: Esther Perel, Psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author Emmy award-winning journalist John Donvan moderates Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:53:15

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Is the Republican Party’s Refusal to Raise Taxes Fiscally Irresponsible?

2/2/2024
Whoever wins the 2024 election will soon face a critical decision about extending four trillion dollars in tax cuts expiring next year. Whether taxes will be raised, or cut is in question, against the backdrop of 34.1 trillion dollars in federal debt. For the past few decades, the Republican Party has embraced the belief that lower tax rates and less government spending boost the U.S. economy. However, there is disagreement among conservative thought leaders about the way forward on taxes for the Republican Party. Specifically, some argue that preferences for tax cuts ignore the looming deficit and that refusing to raise taxes further imbalances the federal budget. However, others continue to argue that our debt is caused by government overspending and will actually be helped by tax cuts and that these same cuts also help promote a flourishing economy. With this background, we debate the question: Is the Republican Party’s Refusal to Raise Taxes Fiscally Irresponsible? Arguing Yes: Oren Cass, Executive Director of American Compass Arguing No: David McIntosh, President of the Club for Growth Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:53:15

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Is Engineering Solar Radiation A Crazy Idea?

1/26/2024
Right now, climate engineers are working on new technologies, called solar geoengineering, that would reflect the sun’s rays away from Earth as a way to cool the planet. Those in favor argue it would be inexpensive and effective, and could buy us time to get carbon emissions down before the worst impacts of climate change. But others argue it would distract from the underlying issues of climate change and express concern about who would control such a powerful technology. So we debate: Is Engineering Solar Radiation A Crazy Idea? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:53:15

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Is the American Dream in Decline?

1/19/2024
The American Dream – the idea that anyone can achieve success in the U.S. through hard work and determination – is under scrutiny, and some worry it’s no longer achievable for the broader population. Those who agree say increasing healthcare, education, and housing costs create difficulty in having financial stability. Those who disagree argue that the U.S. still offers more opportunities for personal and financial growth than elsewhere. Now we debate: Is the American Dream in Decline? Arguing Yes: David Leonhardt, Pulitzer Prize-winning Senior Writer for The New York Times and The Morning; Author of “Ours Was the Shining Future: The Story of the American Dream” Arguing No: Michael Strain, Political Economy Scholar and Director of Economic Policy Studies at American Enterprise Institute; Author of “The American Dream Is Not Dead: (But Populism Could Kill It)” Nayeema Raza, Journalist at New York Magazine and Vox, is the guest moderator. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:53:15

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David Petraeus and Andrew Roberts on Conflict, War, and Debate

1/12/2024
Debate is a form of conflict that is played out through civility, and the capability to exchange ideas with people we disagree with. But what leads leaders and countries to fall into conflict? In this conversation with Retired U.S. Army General David H. Petraeus and historian Lord Andrew Roberts, guest moderator Xenia Wickett speaks with them about their new book, the nature of military conflict, and how civil debate and conflict are intertwined. Our Guests: General David H. Petraeus, U.S. Army Retired General; Chairman of the KKR Global Institute; Former CIA Director Andrew Roberts, Biographer, Historian, and Member of the U.K. Parliament Xenia Wickett, Geopolitical strategist and moderator at Wickett Advisory and Trustee of Transparency International UK, is the guest moderator. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:53:15

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Mock Trial: Is Trump Guilty in the January 6th Case?

1/5/2024
After the 2020 election, former President Trump discredited the election results. The January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and Trump’s federal indictment on four charges are tied to his claims. The defense claims proof is needed he had planned to commit a crime and he conducted himself under legal advice. The prosecution argues his actions showed criminal intent to defraud the U.S. and was done knowingly. Now we debate: Is Trump Guilty in the January 6th Case? Prosecutor: Lanny Davis, Attorney and Former Presidential Advisor Defense Attorney: Sara Azari, Criminal Defense Lawyer; Legal Analyst for NewsNation Judge's Chair: John Donvan, Moderator-In-Chief and Emmy award-winning journalist Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:53:15