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Debating Matters

The titles in the Debating Matters series formed the inspiration for the Institute of Ideas and Pfizer Debating Matters Competition, a new national debating competition for sixth form students that is injecting new life into schools debating. See the Debating Matters website for further information.

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Whose right?

Currently around 180 000 British women terminate pregnancies each year - far more than the politicians who passed the Abortion Act in 1967 intended. Should the law be made more liberal to reflect the demand or is it too easy for women to ‘take the life’ of their ‘unborn child’? What role should doctors play in the abortion decision?

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Alternative Medicine

Should we swallow it?

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is an increasingly acceptable part of the repertory of healthcare professionals and is becoming more and more popular with the public. It seems that CAM has come of age-but should we swallow it?

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Ethical Tourism

Who benefits?

The idea of 'responsible tourism' has grown in popularity over the past decade. But who benefits from this notion? Should the behaviour of travellers come under scrutiny? What are the consequences of this new etiquette for the travelling experience? Can we make a positive difference if we change the way we travel?

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Can we trust the experts?

Controversies surrounding a plethora of issues, from the MMR vaccine to mobile phones, from BSE to genetically-modified foods, have led many to ask how the public's faith in government advice can be restored. At the heart of the matter is the role of expert and the question of whose opinion to trust.

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Teenage Sex

What should schools teach children?

Under New Labour, sex education is a big priority. New policies in this area are guaranteed to generate a furious debate. 'Pro-family' groups contend that young people are not given a clear message about right and wrong. Others argue there is still too little sex education. And some worry that all too often sex education stigmatizes sex. So what should schools teach children about sex?

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Animal Experimentation

Good or Bad?

Some argue that animal experiments are vital to advance scientific knowledge and improve medical practice. Others believe that they are unnecessary, cruel and repetitive. Is a compromise between animal rights campaigners and those that emphasise the needs of humans possible or even desirable?

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Compensation Crazy

Do we blame and claim too much?

Big Compensation pay-outs make the headlines. New style 'claims centres' advertise for accident victims promising 'where there's blame, there's a claim'. Many commentators fear Britain is experiencing a US-style compensation craze. But what's wrong with holding employers and businesses to account? Or are we now too ready to reach for our lawyers and to find someone to blame when things go wrong?

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The Internet

Brave new world?

Over the last decade, the internet has become part of everyday life. Along with the benefits however, come fears of unbridled hate speech and pornography. More profoundly, perhaps, there is a worry that virtual relationships will replace the real thing, creating a sterile, soulless society. How much is the internet changing the world?

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Designer Babies

Where should we draw the line?

Science fiction has been preoccupied with technologies to control the characteristics of our children since the publications of Aldous Huxley's 'Brave New World'. Current arguments about 'designer babies' almost always demand that lines should be drawn and regulations tightened. But where should regulation stop and patient choice in the use of reproductive technology begin?

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Nature's Revenge

Hurricanes, Floods and Climate Change

Politicians and the media rarely miss the opportunity that hurricanes or extensive flooding provide to warn us of the potential dangers of global warming. This is nature's 'wake-up call' we are told and we must adjust our lifestyles. This book brings together scientific experts and social commentators to debate whether we really are seeing 'nature's revenge'.

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What is it good for?

Art seems to be more popular and fashionable today than ever before. At the same time, art is changing, and much contemporary work does not fit into categories of the past. Is 'conceptual' work art at all? Should artists learn traditional craft before their work is considered valuable? Can we learn to love art or must we take it or leave it? These questions and more are discussed in six essays from people on different sides of the debate. In this text, contrasting approaches to this topical and contentious question are presented by various specialists on the subject.

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Reality TV

How real is real?

Reality TV has established itself as a major television genre. This is TV of real people, and for real people. But how valid is the claim that these programmes tell us the truth about our lives? Is it better simply to point the camera and let people tell their own stories, or does this approach miss something important? Some argue that it is arrogant for programme makers to impose an interpretation. Others insist that they have a responsibility to bring intelligence and insight to their subject matter. This issue is discussed by contributers from both sides of the debate.