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Saturday, August 21, 2021 9:23:54 PM

Ladbroke Grove Rail Crash Case Study

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So when you put them together, you can see that some of these social determinants are much underspent in some nations. Ben Yeoh : Maybe then going one step broader and thinking about COVID a little bit before maybe going back is, do we have a good political economy or philosophical framework to think about some of these exceptions or things like this? Because it's interesting.

I read a lot of economists who actually, whether they're left right or up and down, broadly show that if we were to spend globally, particularly in poorer countries on vaccination and COVID, and things like that, you'd get very good returns put in monetary value or even in the value of lives. And I think you've done some work from a philosophical point of view, talking about COVID equity that actually richer nations, not only is it in their own best interest and comparative economics in trade but actually there's a moral and ethical slant as well. But then when you look at a lot of rich nation governments, and presumably they are reflecting a political economy or political choice may or may not be reflective of what they view their voting popular is.

A lot of nations have opted to stay within the country. And you can also argue within the country, whether richer or more privileged sections of society have also had better access than some of these other minority groups as well. And in fact, some countries have let some kinds of vaccines almost expire rather than ship them out to poorer countries. So I'd be interested maybe broadly, what you think about that and then actually, do you have any start of an answer for a political economy or philosophical framework that we could look upon rather than we can critique and say, well, like you say, there seems to be a lot which doesn't fit or is wrong or doesn't feel fair, but do we have anything better? Jonathan Wolff : Well, yes, just a small question. So I don't have my own overarching framework that is for sure.

And I haven't written specifically about the general idea of duty, but I can tell you what has upset me and disappointed me a lot during the pandemic. So a lot of people have criticized pharmaceutical companies for being profiteering, for denying access to lifesaving pharmaceuticals. And I've often felt in the past that some of this criticism was overdone and that the people I know personally who've been working in the pharmaceutical industry are very goodhearted.

They think they're saving humanity. They are upset they're getting such bad press for it. So they've on the whole, they've gone in with the finest motives and they're doing their best and working really hard. And in some cases, great saviors of humankind. So I've been relatively defensive of the pharmaceutical industry, even though it is incredibly profitable. And I thought, well, it shouldn't be as profitable as it is. There is a problem there, it should be better for access, but it was getting its act together a little bit. And some drugs for some conditions were being donated and, and there was progress. But all of that now looks just like window dressing and I'm coming around much more to the more critical standpoint.

Because if there was ever a moment in history where the pharmacies in industry should have got together as a body and worked together. Jonathan Wolff : If the companies that are capable of making vaccines had wanted to, they could have massively increased production around the globe. And I'm not saying they could have stopped the pandemic because we never know about the next variants of concern or so on how effective the vaccines will be. But if the pharmaceutical companies and governments had wanted to get together and stop this, they could have done by now, or at least made it much better than it is, but they failed to do that.

And there are ways in which they have been creating obstacles. So some of the pharmaceutical companies have been signing contracts, supply contracts, which would make it a breach of contract to pass the vaccines onto another country. So, this is quite common in vaccine manufacturing when you have price differentials. So you sell it cheaply in one market and say, you can't sell on the gray market and that's fair enough under some circumstances, but at the moment you would think that pharmaceutical companies would just want to get together and sort this out.

So that's one thing. Jonathan Wolff : Another thing I have heard, and I'm not sure whether this is right. There's an issue now as new vaccines are being made available or want to be made available and for the late stage of testing, because the existing vaccines are successful enough that it now seems immoral in many circumstances to try placebo-controlled trial, that we wouldn't think it, it was morally legitimate to say to some people, through the next year, you are not going have access to the vaccine if you're in the control arm.

So we won't sign people up for those trials. So, what we need to do now are comparative trials where you look at the efficiency of a new vaccine against existing vaccines, and it's not scientifically as strong, but it's ethically better. And it's the best we can do. I have heard that some companies are not making their vaccines available for these comparative trials because they don't want to be found inferior because the whole purpose of these trials is to show that someone else's product is better than yours. If you are a fully commercial entity who would do that.

You wouldn't put your vaccine up for that comparison. Now, if you've got a good market, you've got a monopoly. If you treat it purely from a commercial point of view, why would you want to create your own competition like this? Whereas I felt that the industry should be taking a corporate view, where there should be the pharmaceutical industry, that's trying to save us at this point rather than there being a dozen companies that are competing with each other and trying to hoard market share.

Ben Yeoh : Sure. That's very interesting. I'll try and take maybe a couple of points to try and defend the industry. Not that I'm sure I'm going to be very capable of it before maybe moving on to a little bit of thinking about minorities and disabilities. That latter point does feel very unusual to me. Also, that countries could actually requisition those other vaccines for their own trials.

That does seem that I would've thought that's unusual, but it could be the case that the companies are holding back those older vaccines. But I guess on the first point without sort of putting responsibility one way or the other. A part of it, to me, does seem to be a question fairly simply of money that if you gave me something like 2 or billion, which kind of seems like a lot, but actually rich governments could pull together and have this amount quite quickly. You could do all of this. Factories cost in the order of 1 to 5 billion and there's some tech transfer.

But you could do this really relatively easily. Now the fact is no one stakeholders really stumped up this money, even the sort of non-governmental groups, which are trying to get this money are really only in the kind of looking at the very low billions. And they have some other things to do with that. So partly I have a lot of blame for everyone in the sense that if all the rich governments simply threw 10 billion into the pot, you could have done this. They would've at least washed their faces. They could have done this in a way, which would've been win-win. And I still don't quite understand why that hasn't happened except that global good coordination is a difficult thing, which actually doesn't even be very hopeful for climate, which we might come into otherwise.

Ben Yeoh : Although the second other defense and I do think to almost counter myself that there probably is something special about healthcare, we don't necessarily argue that Apple should be giving up its iPhones or telecom companies should be giving up sort of mobile. For instance, you could argue mobile bandwidth would be really important for some people at the moment and there would be a positive good to that. Yet we don't kind of say, well you should just give away that for free and that should be fine and all right.

But there is something special about healthcare I do think because a lot of this is life and death, which is something that you talk about, but I do you think they could sort of make the case of well, Apple and Microsoft or Facebook and the likes, don't have to seemingly give up as, as much as, as much as we can. But I think they could well have done more because you could have done this sort of 10 billion investment in somewhere like India, transferred your tech and got that production going and it isn't actually in the grand scheme of things that large amount of money. So unlike climate, there's a lot of difficulty, many factors to this.

There's actually only a handful of challenges that need to be overcome and a coordination problem and some money. And we actually have the solutions to a lot of those challenges, which is kind of why I find it sort of very disappointing from an economics point of view. Because if you want to be very hard nos and monetary, this is a net benefit to everyone on money values or the ethical point of view in terms of lives saved, reputation, social capital, and human capital. So, I'm kind of a little bit disappointed that this is where we've ended up, but obviously this is where we've ended up.

Jonathan Wolff : So, I agree with a lot of that. I make the distinction not original to me between who has the obligation to act and who has the obligation to pay for that action. And it seems to be the pharmaceutical companies are the only people in a position to act to bring the pandemic much more under control, but it doesn't follow from that, that they have to pay. And in fact, it's you and me that should be paying through our governments through our taxes, so on and maybe benefactors.

So there just seems to have been a failure of leadership that if pharmaceutical companies had got together and gone to governments and said, we will pool all our resources, but we need the billion or the governments. Or maybe it was a problem that was President Trump, who was president of the US at the time. If governments who got together and said, look, we've got this billion. You get your act together and so it could have been solved, but it wasn't. And there was the attempt through COVAX which has done something but is nowhere near as you indicate getting there.

But the point I want to make is, I did some work on Business Ethics from years ago and one concept that I like the look of a lot, I haven't done any work on it is an idea of what was then called an informal license operation. Jonathan Wolff : Of course, in most areas of business, you don't need a license to operate. You could set up. You need certain licenses to show competence and safety and good character, if you are in the casino business or something.

So, there are various tests you have to go through, but we don't have this idea that you have to show you're giving something back to the community or you're acting responsibly. And there are companies that act in a certain way in which you can say, they've sort of lost the faith of the nation and they've lost their informal license to operate. And I would like much more to be made of that. Well, it's great for us as consumers, that there are these companies competing and because competition brings down prices and raises quality.

But at the same time, it's a great privilege for people who are owning stocks in these companies and that they can make money out of this system. So, the thought is we all owe something back. We all owe something to make the system work. And I think the pharmaceutical companies have not really lived up to their license to operate and what determines there to operate partly depends on the nature of the business that they're in. So, if you're making money out of life and death, then you've got a much closer connection to life and death. If you're making money out of broadband or something, then maybe you have a special responsibility for keeping the pollution down.

I know that's a stupid example. Ben Yeoh : Communication Open. Jonathan Wolff : Space pollution, right. Maybe making sure you monitor dangerous space objects or something. So, there are certain areas that because you're operating in that area, you have special responsibilities in relation to that area. I think we could make much more of that as a society. The type of individualism of the economy that we have makes that a much more difficult thing to force through and get across.

Ben Yeoh : So, I think the social license to operate ideas is slowly gaining traction, but I would view the progress as slow. The interesting thing about the secularity of it is that at the end of the day, for instance, in this country and in most of rich nations, it's you and me, the person in the street, which ends up owning a piece of these companies through our pension and that's been very atomized. So, in fact, certainly most people we meet will actually have a very or partial ownership of these various companies. So, we are also profiteering and the customer, and we are part shareholder as well as stakeholder.

The fact that we could somehow use our voice and ownership to bend on that social license is only beginning to get the kind of traction that actually we have in terms of those rights in law, and also the exercising of those rights. So, I do think that's quite an interesting thing. Maybe circling back to something that we mentioned and I know you do a lot of work on, which is on times of minorities, I'm particularly interested in disability. Because actually there is, I think this view that perhaps a disabled human life is somehow less.

There are worse health outcomes, there are worse job outcomes and you can actually observe this for a lot of other minorities. May I stick with disability, partly as stats suggest that. Ben Yeoh : For instance, in Britain, one in five people are disabled and it's a very large minority globally. And I'd be interested in what you think philosophy has had to say about this. It's partly because when I've been reading around, I kind of felt that ideas which have come from disability studies, social models of disability, even things like gender studies and the like for other things seem to progress ideas here more and in a more practical way than perhaps some mainstream philosophy.

I don't know if this, your reading of what philosophers have had to offer on minority in disability debates, albeit that your work and program now is kind of a lot focused on the rights of the minority and civil institutions and that. I'd be interested in your thoughts of how we progressed on this or not in the last few decades. Jonathan Wolff : Well, it certainly got a lot better than it was. So, I started working on disability roundabout, I suppose, about the year And I can't now completely reconstruct why I did it.

But I think I was giving a talk about Dworkin's theory of equality. So, if you go back to John Rawls in the theory of justice , he deliberately doesn't discuss disability. He makes it explicitly, he's leaving questions of disabilities to one side, and he was roundly criticized for that because as you say, it's a very significant minority. So, Ronald Dworkin comes along and gives a theory of justice, which does accommodate disability, but he considers disability as a deficit that if you're disabled, you need more money. And so, his approach to disability was about finding a formula to tax people who were not disabled and to transfer that money to people with disabilities.

So, Dworkin has a sort of tax and redistribution approach to disability. He doesn't describe it like that, but that in practice is what it was. I think I remember giving a talk on this in a multidisciplinary conference. There was someone from disability studies who was sort of snaring with contempt at this approach, or tried to explain it. And even, I think I was using the word handicapped at that point.

And you could see that he thought I was in the dark ages in the way I was talking. Yet, this was sort of cutting-edge political philosophy. And I got quite upset, sort of almost offended on behalf of philosophy here to think why was it that we were being so misunderstood. Jonathan Wolff : So, I started reading around some of the work. I bought some disability studies books and started reading.

I just realized how prejudice I was around, around issues of disability and how narrowly I had thought of it. So physical disability, I always thought of as like a medical problem. And the ideal thing to do with disability was to put people in hospital and cure their disability. And so, it was a real shock to me to read people who were paraplegics who were denying medical treatment and partly it was because the treatment they were offered was very poor and wouldn't help.

Partly it was that being in a hospital for half your life is a terrible way of spending your life, but also people were quite happy with their body, so they said, and they identified with how they were and they didn't want to change. I thought, well, fair enough. Why should they change? Why should anyone have to change to fit in with other people's ideas of what's normal? In a way, it's a deeper philosophical question about what is normal and within political philosophy, we hadn't really interrogated this.

So, we'd assume this thing would be normal and everyone wants to be normal. And if you're not normal, there's a deficit. And if there's a deficit, then for the purposes of distributed justice, you should be given some compensation for your deficit, from people who don't suffer that deficit. This was a very, very narrow and demeaning and insulting and thoughtless way of handling questions of disability. Jonathan Wolff : There were a few philosophers who were not doing this. Anita Silvers, for example. Shelly Tremain is another. Most of the philosophers who were dealing seriously with issues of disability were disabled themselves and found the mainstream discourse very upsetting.

The few people like me, who came in from mainstream philosophy, wanting to think about disability and then finding disability studies much more philosophically sophisticated than the philosophy. And that was a surprise because if you're a philosopher you're brought up to think you're the most sophisticated person, you are the smartest person in the room and you've certainly got a monopoly on philosophy. And then anyone else who thinks they're doing philosophy; they're probably doing history of ideas or sociology or something. They're not doing real philosophy. Then to find that these works were ontological and epistemological more sophisticated than we were certainly doing political philosophy.

I mean, I found out a revelation. Trying to bring in ideas from other disciplines to show how we in philosophy can learn about philosophy from reading other things. And it's not just that we've got the truth and we're somehow spreading it to others. Ben Yeoh : I find that really fascinating. I think from the disability world, if I mentioned philosophy and disability, we inevitably run into the work of Peter Singer. His type of consequential thinking of applied philosophy has actually done a lot for animal rights and animal suffering and has also created effective altruism. So, a kind of expected value is hit to things like charitable giving and the worth of a life.

Yet actually when applied to this type of disabled life has kind of, at least viewing disabled lives as lesser as you're kind of indicating. Or more exactly, I think he would say he argues that the parents of disabled babies should be allowed to end their lives. I was wondering what you kind of thought with this. I think they have this thing, like, what it, the dismal scenario, whatever, is where everyone's kind of in hell and you can make it a little bit better, but everyone's still in hell and well, that's no good is it because no one's really happy.

But I was wondering that because it doesn't go down well in the disability community and it does seem to chime a little bit differently but from a sort of a very cold, expected value type of thing I can kind of maybe get there, although it doesn't seem to chime whatsoever. I don't know. Do you think political philosophy has anything to say about that? Jonathan Wolff : So I think political philosophies got a lot to apologize for and I spent my time doing that, actually apologizing on behalf of political philosophy. Now, I think I've reached a point in my career where I don't have to read things I don't agree with anymore. And I like a lot of Singer's early work.

I think he is very thought provoking. I think he's done a lot to make people think about various prejudices they've had around equality. But I haven't really paid a lot of attention to his work on disability. I'd be much more interested in the work of people like my friend, Tom Shakespeare, as a disabled person. Just trying to work through what it's like. So Tom earlier in his life was not a sort complete defender of the social model of disability, but he thought, a lot of disability was constructed, but he's changed his view as his own condition has changed.

And you think, well, pain is not socially constructed. Pain is pain and pain is a real thing. If you're living your life in pain, then there's no way of changing society where that pain doesn't matter or disappears or something. So, within the disability studies community, there's a lot of thinking around what can we do if we think more creatively in society and what can we fail to do? And for me, so much of my work in philosophy now in political philosophy comes from what I take to be sort of the central insights of the social model of disability.

And so that insight is because of the way people are constructed mentally and the way the world is constructed mentally, physically, socially, culturally, some people fit into the world more easily than others, as things are. Jonathan Wolff : So disability is a type of misfit between the person and the world. So the naive assumption is we have to change the person to fit better into the world. The social model says, no we should change the world, so everyone fits in. And in a way, that's my ambition for everything. Now, when we're thinking about any type of minority, you think, well, what is the misfit here?

Should we change the world so that people fit in? In some cases this is impossible or not a great idea. So Dan Wikler in the seventies wrote a paper called something like "Paternalism and the mildly retarded. So if you think about what it would be to rearrange the world so that having a very low IQ wasn't a disadvantage. It would have to get rid of the banking system. It would have to get rid of everything sophisticated. So that feels like that's too high a cost. So there are going to be limits, but just this idea of the lack of fit between the person and the world. And in some cases, we want the person to change. We want to educate people and we want to make people able to read. We want to make them numerous. And in other cases, if you only have stairs going into the building and you could easily put it on the ramp, then you can make some people's lives a lot better, with minimal effort.

And there's no reason not to, if you can do that. Jonathan Wolff : So you change the world rather than trying to change or assist the person. Once you understand that, once you try to change the world to accommodate more people that means things like disability become less stigmatizing. That you don't have to identify in order to be helped, for example. So this is one of the things of the type of Dworkin scheme. If it's about redistribution, you have to identify as a disabled person to claim your benefits. If we've rearranged the world so that being a disabled person in that respect is no longer a disadvantage, then no one even has to think about it. You just get on with your life, right? Now this is sort of an inspiring vision I think that disability helps us think through.

I normally don't like to do this sort of ideal world theory but I think in disability cases, it's very interesting to think, how would we have constructed the world differently if we took people with disabilities seriously from the start. If we had started from the point of view that the world is a diverse place with people with different mental and physical attributes, how would we've done things differently?

I think now that is a great thought experiment that can be quite inspiring to policy. So do I think a disabled life is less valuable than a non-disabled life? No, I don't. I think we may have constructed the world so that some lives are much more difficult for people than other lives. Some people face much more obstacles in their life than others. Certainly some people can do more than others. Certainly some people are in more pain and discomfort and lack of mobility than others.

So there are differences. If they're very short and full of pain then you might say that's a life that's not worth living, but beyond that any type of life is worth living and it's the only life that the person has got. And it seems to me that they're trying to grade different lives with different values. It is very unfortunate. Of course, the type of question that say Parfit raised was around abortion and disability. You mentioned yourself about whether parents have a right to or even a duty I suppose, in some cases to terminate a pregnancy because of disability.

I mean, is that what you wanted to pursue? Ben Yeoh : Well, we don't have to go there in the sense that I do think we were questioning that there was a definite difference between, and I think society broadly views the same, although obviously there's debates for when you're ending the life of someone who's being born. And obviously this is based on that versus not that's partly because Singer takes it all the way to when is baby is born, whereas sort of unborn is a lot more accepted to be a lot more complex.

For instance, in Iceland currently essentially no one is being born with Downs because you can essentially, you can screen for that. And the second order effect is that that doesn't happen. And the cousin observation would be in the deaf community where you can medically lose deafness versus hearing communities. And there's an extremely rich deaf culture, which is being eroded will likely if you follow this be eroded over time. And so, to extend some of your thinking, I do think it's probably the case that you can bring the world closer to a lot of these communities not only at no cost to everyone else, but in a way that enriches everyone much more often. There are maybe some points, let's say, severe schizophrenia, which would be very difficult to map around.

Although in isolated cases, I was reading accounts of how people treated what we might think of as people having visionary episodes as prophets today that we might view as having schizophrenia. And actually, in some olden times in isolated communities, they were looked after very well. And actually, the world might've rotated around what visions they were having. Perhaps putting that altogether, I mean, this just extends your ideas and thinking about the importance of the social model.

Thinking about minorities, I think that there's someone who calls himself probably more of a risk philosopher, Nassim Taleb, who is more famous for thinking around risk and black swans. But he's actually posited something about minority rule in complex systems. This is the idea that it takes a courageous group of minority people for society to function properly and he gives an example of a disabled person might not have access to a regular bathroom, but actually if all bathrooms were accessible, this would be equal for non-disabled and disabled.

So, if that would happen to the world, it would just actually be a net positive broadly. So, all bathrooms are accessible and actually your problem is solved. So perhaps interesting in extending that I was wondering what you were doing in your work on civil society and institutions protecting minority rights, and maybe talking a little bit about your idea of a society of equals. This idea that may be a society which avoids negatives, avoids exclusions and exploit exploitation is something that philosophy should be thinking more of because it does seem to be an extension of taking some of these social model ideas, but putting them maybe more broadly into a philosophical framework.

Jonathan Wolff : Okay. Thank you. So, this is an ongoing project of work, of course. And it goes back again to the debates. So, I mentioned Dworkin's work on equality. Dworkin presented a view that came to be known as luck egalitarianism which says roughly that we should insulate people from the results of bad luck. So, if you're born disabled, that's bad luck for him, you should be compensated for that. That was part of his view. But things are down to your individual choice, then you should bear the consequences of that. So, the luck egalitarianism views as an equal society are one that compensates for bad luck, but allows people to bear the consequences of their good and bad choices.

Now there are two main features of that view. One is it gives a high premium to something like individual responsibility. So, it tries to insulate you from things that are outside your own choices, but requires you to pay the costs of your choices and get the benefit of your choices. So, responsibility and choice are really important. And the other thing about it is it thinks of a quality in terms of distribution of resources of goods in the world. And that became sort of the mainstream view in theories of equality. That is lucky egalitarianism and there are lots of variations on it.

There are lots of ways of generating debates within that framework of thinking, well, should it be resources or maybe should it be equal happiness we will have? Or should it be resources, or should it be opportunities for resources? There are lots of debates, lots of positions. Jerry Cohen, my teacher, took an exempt position. Dick Arnason took a position. Many other people, John Roemer. So, there was a debate broadly within the same assumptions. And one of the amazing things about a set of assumptions is that no one realizes I'm making them until someone points them out to them. So, there was a debate that looked like these people have big differences between each other.

Then there were a set of criticisms. Criticisms from me, but more importantly from Elizabeth Anderson that pointed out that this whole group of views had these things in common around choice and distribution of something. And the view I was presenting at that time and she, also Sam Schaeffler and others and David Miller before us, starts from this idea that if we think about what attracts us to the idea of equality, it's not really the idea of sharing something else equally between people that equality isn't about equal income or equal wealth or equal happiness. It's about not looking up to people and not looking down on them. Thinking of yourself as an equal with others. It could be equal respect, some people think. But it could just be the bland idea if you want to live in a society where everyone regards each other as equals, and that might have consequences for distribution, but it's not defined in terms of distribution.

So, a society of equals is one which is constituted by a certain type of relations between people. And that's the basic idea. And again, you can have a million people writing their PhDs to try to tell us what these relations are. And yeah. So, I came up with this version of this few in the late nineties, I thought, okay, so now my task is, what is this relation? What is the bond of equality? I spent a few years trying to come up with it. Didn't get anywhere. I had a couple of PhD students. They sat down at the task; they didn't come up with it either. They didn't solve it for me, but they did very good work, but they didn't solve it and I sort of abandoned it.

Then I was doing work around public policy and my approach in public policy was always to start from the problem. So, if you're thinking about the problem in public policy, don't just think about the policy area and think about what would be an ideal system for railway safety. You start with, what's going wrong with the system we've got? What are the dilemmas for the system we've got? Almost like an engineer's approach. Now, what's going wrong? How do we fix it? And I thought, well, maybe that's the right way to think about equality too.

So rather than thinking, well, what would be an ideal society where everyone relates to each other as an equal? Well, maybe there's not one model. Maybe there are thousands of different ways in which we can have a society of equals. So, the idea that I'm going to promote one model and say, join my model, put my flag on it and say, sign to my model of equality. It's ridiculous. No, one's going to sign up to us and do it right. It's utopian thinking but what we can do is look at the society we're in and think what are the greatest and most pernicious inequalities in our society. We've talked about disability. Most people who are writing about this are salaried employees. So, they tend to think about income as something that's really important.

I came to think that inequality post-employment is actually much more important than inequality in employment. So, the lives of people in retirement run from extreme poverty to extreme wealth for contingent reasons. Were you lucky enough to be able to buy a house and pay a mortgage and have paid it off and don't have rent to pay? Do you have the good fortune to have received inheritance just as you're retiring or not? Do you have a private pension? We we're talking about it before. So, someone like me, I'm in about as privileged a position as you can be because by the time, I retire I would have paid off my flats.

I got a pension from the USS before it all went wrong. I will inherit something, not a lot, but there'll be some things that will pay for my vacations in my retirement. Something whereas if I didn't have any of that, you know, I could be living hand to mouth. So, you think, okay, there are these unnoticed inequalities, or there are qualities that we don't think much about. I've got a paper coming out on this for you there because we all hate benefit cheats…except who are benefit sheets? So, people who cannot survive on the starvation benefits they have and try to do something so they can buy their kid a birthday present.

I'm not in every case, but there are people who are among the hardest working potentially hardest working in the country who are labeled as cheats. So, you start looking at these injustices and inequalities and start thinking, well, what can we do about that? So, relations like exploitation, exclusion, hierarchy, arbitrary, power violence. These are all examples of inequalities that we can address. We don't need new philosophical theories to tell us these things are wrong, but we do need a sort of heightened perception about the ways in which our societies can be deeply unjust and the ways in which we can begin to try to address this. So, the idea of a society of equals, that's an aspiration that I don't believe we'll ever get to.

For example, I think it is impossible, probably psychologically impossible to eliminate hierarchies, even though they're unjust. So, I'm not one of these people who think every problem has a solution. I think there are some problems that we will never solve. So, I think hierarchies are unjust and inevitable, but that doesn't mean the extent of hierarchy is inevitable or the pernicious consequences of hierarchy is inevitable either. So, there are going to be things we can do to mitigate it and make it softer and less problematic. So, it's not exactly an aspiring vision, but the thought is that we should be attending much more carefully the ways in which our societies go wrong and think about how we as philosophers can try to contribute to projects, to help repair.

Ben Yeoh : That's really fascinating and it might not be very catchy as a vision, but I actually think that form of what I would call incremental progress or applying insights that we have are out there. But we're not applying them as well as could be is probably really important. I haven't heard it articulated in the way that you have. So that is going to leave me thinking and is really valuable.

So, thanks. Unfortunately, we're sort of running out of time because there's so many other things, I was going to ask you about, like when can you ever have responsible gambling and how should we trust an expert or why should we become a philosopher? We haven't even hit on things like climate change, but I think we'll have to save those for another one.

Jonathan Wolff : Good. I thought you were going to ask me about people and this was going to be very embarrassing. So, the idea of direct democracy, I think my views are changing on this. I have written that direct democracy suffers from the defect that Oscar Wilde said about socialism and that it would take up too many evenings. And that if we really were going to have direct democracy, we'd have to spend so much time. We wouldn't be very good at this. I haven't completely moved away from that view, but now we do now have technological means to do things better.

I found out about mini-Publix, where you can have not everyone deeply engaged, but a thousand ordinary citizens for a year say engaged in the political process. I think part of the problem is that for most of its time, political processes only draw in a small selection of the population as representative. So, before the 20th century, pretty much everyone in parliament was from a very narrow male, privately educated, wealthy background.

We had a few decades with the rise of the labor party. When you have people from trade union background, people from different walks of life, getting into politics and that was maybe quite a lively era. That now feels like something that has passed. We're now back to a situation where almost everyone who is elected as a member of parliament has spent a lot of time around Westminster. Has been a SPAD, has been something to do with parliament, or maybe on the Tory side in business, but has kept close to politicians. So, the people who are representing us, we're a very narrow proportion of the population. I think it would be wonderful if we could work out ways of having a much wider range of people, different experiences. A few people with significant experience of unemployment in parliament would be fantastic, more disabled people in parliament or close to parliament.

So, if we could have some type of, much more representative system as a sort of satellite, I think that would be wonderful. So, I would say I understood the right way direct democracy is underrated. It as it's normally understood. Probably, overrated. Ben Yeoh : Very fair. Jonathan Wolff : Wow. So, it depends what you're contrasting multiculturalism with. So, if you're contrasting multiculturalism with monoculturalism where you want to have a society where everyone is the same background. Well, this doesn't fit with me very well at all. I've written about how I'm descended from three generations of asylum seekers.

So, any one of Jewish descent at my age has gotten that as a background. Even if, like me, people think you're sort of quintessential Englishman, you have this quite different background. So, multiculturalism is definitely very important in relation to monoculturalism, but more subtly it's contrasted with policies of assimilation. So, my great-grandmother who I never met apparently lived in England for half her life, but only ever spoke Yiddish. So, was that a good thing or a bad thing if she could only speak to members of her own very small Orthodox Jewish community? That seems to me a shame. So, I wouldn't want to force assimilation, but I would want to make assimilation available.

So, I think multiculturalism, with the right amount of opportunity for being part of a mainstream culture, is important. But I think in my own case, completely assimilated. But for people who don't want that, I think that is absolutely fine and adds to the glory of the countries for there to be multicultural. So, I'm in favor. In some ways I find it quite difficult to understand the opposition.

It feels to me somewhat narrow and maybe rather fearful of people to think there's something wrong with many cultures living side-by-side. Ben Yeoh : Sure, that seems fair. Adam Smith? Jonathan Wolff : Well, Adam Smith? So, what you're meant to say is Adam Smith was this defender of capitalism. So, the right-wing thinks, but actually there's much more to him than math. If you read a theory of moral sentiments, you find he's this other person, except people can't quite tell you what this other person is except he's very humane. Has other things going on. Has a theory of the impartial spectator. A couple of years ago, I decided that I was going to read the wealth of nations cover to cover because no one does and when I finished that, I realized why no one does.

Well, defenses of obsolete economic policy, which has no relevance now around the currency and so on. Labor and stuff. Jonathan Wolff : So, the parts that people read are probably the right one. There are a few hundred pages or 50 pages or something. I think he is probably a much more subtle thinker than he's often taken to be. So, I wrote a little book on Marx and I've spent some time looking at the early writings, the economic and philosophical manuscripts. I realized looking at it a bit more carefully than I had done, not as a scholar, not as a deep scholar, but just looking at it properly. I realized that Marx's criticisms of capitalism were pretty much all taken just from reading Adam Smith. So, all of the observations that lead to Marx's theory of alienation are already there in Smith.

About the commodification of labor, about the working day being punished, about the early death, all of that is there taken by Marx's from Smith. If scholarship had gone a different way, Smith's today could have been regarded as a critic of capitalism rather than a defender, I think, from his writings. So, is he overrated or underrated? It's a beautiful question. I think I've given my answer. Ben Yeoh : Yeah, you have given him a neutral. It is true that actually he is almost certainly in most of my reading of him, not pro big business.

He's anti-big business aside from everything else, because even in his capitalist market interpretations the tendency towards monopoly is not actually good for market competition of which he doesn't fall into, but like you say, most people don't read them, but probably for quite good reasons. Last couple, pronouns? Jonathan Wolff : Pronouns. I haven't really got my head round this. In some respects, I regard myself as a pioneer. I know for some people it doesn't sit right for them. It sounds wrong, but to my ears the singular they have always been okay. Sometimes it's a bit forced, but normally you can rewrite the sentence, so it's not too clumsy. So, I tend in my writing as much as I can and I just tend to avoid using them. So, you can put things in a passive tense, or you can recast things, so you don't have to use pronouns.

In terms of the use of pronouns, I wish we had a language which didn't have them. It would make things much easier. I believe the Chinese don't have them. Ben Yeoh : Not really. Not in the same way at all. And I remember in the book, the author of the book replaces pronouns with per, which is short for person. So instead of him and her, you just have per; so per says. I think that was great. If we had done that life would have been so much simpler for us. So I think this is my way of saying, I would like to avoid the questions of pronouns rather than come down some way. But is there something particularly behind your question that I've missed? Ben Yeoh : Well, I guess very tangentially, I'm thinking a little bit Amia Srinivasan who I guess is also a philosopher at Oxford router, extended sort of essay in the London review of books and things.

And I guess there's been a movement particularly around identity with this fight around that, which actually adds to your commentary about having something which had a different language would completely sidestep. The Class 91 units were designed for a maximum service speed of mph, and running at this speed was trialled with a 'flashing green' signal aspect under the British signalling system. The trains were eventually limited to the same speed as the HST, to mph, with higher speeds deemed to require cab signalling , which as of was not in place on the normal British railway network but was used on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

Post privatisation, a plan to upgrade the West Coast Main Line to speeds of up to mph with infrastructure improvements were finally abandoned, although the tilting train Class Pendolino fleet designed for this maximum speed of service were still built and entered service in , and operates limited to mph. The first implementation of high-speed rail up to mph in regular passenger service in Great Britain was the Channel Tunnel Rail Link now known as High Speed 1 , when its first phase opened in linking the British end of the Channel Tunnel at Folkestone with Fawkham Junction in Kent.

This is used by international only passenger trains for the Eurostar service, using Class and Class trains. The line was later extended all the way into London St Pancras in After the building of the first of a new Class train fleet for use partly on High Speed 1 and parts of the rest of the UK rail network, the first domestic high-speed running over mph to about mph began in December , including a special Olympic Javelin shuttle for the Summer Olympics. These services are operated by the South Eastern franchise.

For replacement of the domestic fleet of InterCity and trains on the existing national network, the Intercity Express Programme was announced. In it was announced the preferred rolling stock option for this project was the Hitachi Super Express family of multiple units, and they entered service in on the Great Western Main Line and on the East Coast Main Line. The trains will be capable of a maximum speed of mph with "minor modifications", with the necessary signalling modifications required of the Network Rail infrastructure in Britain likely to come from the phased rollout of the Europe-wide European Rail Traffic Management System ERTMS. Following several studies and consultations on high-speed rail, in the UK Government formally announced the High Speed 2 project, establishing a company to produce a feasibility study to examine route options and financing for a new high-speed railway in the UK.

Conventional high-speed rail technology would be used as opposed to Maglev. A second phase of the project is planned to reach further north to Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds, as well as linking into the Midland Main Line. In August the speeds of the fastest trains operating in Great Britain capable of a top speed of over mph were as follows:. In the fastest timetabled start-to-stop run by a UK domestic train service was the Hull Trains This is operated by a Class diesel unit running "under the wires" on this East Coast route.

This was matched by several Leeds to London Class 91 -operated East Coast trains if their two-minute recovery allowance for this section is excluded from the public timetable. A number of towns and cities have rapid transit networks. Light rail systems in the form of trams are in Birmingham , Croydon , Manchester , Nottingham , Sheffield and Edinburgh. These systems use a combination of street running tramways and, where available, reserved right of way or former conventional rail lines in some suburbs.

Blackpool has the one remaining traditional tram system. Monorails, heritage tramways, miniature railways and funiculars also exist in several places. In addition, there are a number of heritage mainly steam standard and narrow gauge railways, and a few industrial railways and tramways. Some lines which appear to be heritage operations sometimes claim to be part of the public transport network; the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway in Kent regularly transports schoolchildren. Most major cities have some form of commuter rail network. There are also several smaller independent operators including Mendip Rail.

Types of freight carried include intermodal — in essence containerised freight — and coal, metals, oil, and construction material. The Beeching Cuts, in contrast to passenger services, greatly modernised the goods sector, replacing inefficient wagons with containerised regional hubs. Statistics on freight are specified in terms of the weight of freight lifted, and the net tonne kilometre , being freight weight multiplied by distance carried.

A symbolic loss to the rail freight industry in Great Britain was the custom of the Royal Mail , which from discontinued use of its train fleet, and switching to road haulage after a near year-preference for trains. Mail trains had long been part of the tradition of the railways in Great Britain, famously celebrated in the film Night Mail , for which W. Auden wrote the poem of the same name. Although Royal Mail suspended mail trains in January , this decision was reversed in December of the same year, and Class s are now used on some routes including between London, Warrington and Scotland.

At the time of privatisation, the rolling stock of British Rail was sold to the new operators, as in the case of the freight companies, or to the three ROSCOs rolling stock companies which lease or hire stock to passenger and freight train operators. Leasing is relatively commonplace in transport since it enables operating companies to avoid the complication associated with raising sufficient capital to purchase assets; instead, assets are leased and paid for from ongoing revenue. Since there has been a growth in smaller spot-hire companies that provide rolling stock on short-term contracts.

Many of these have grown thanks to the major selling-off of locomotives by the large freight operators, especially EWS. Unlike other major players in the privatised railway system of Great Britain, the ROSCOs are not subject to close regulation by the economic regulatory authority. They were expected to compete with one another, and they do, although not in all respects. Since privatisation in , the ROSCOs have faced criticism from several quarters — including passenger train operating companies such as GNER , Arriva and FirstGroup — on the basis they are acting as an oligopoly to keep lease prices higher than they would be in a competitive market.

Many believed Prescott favoured much closer regulation of the ROSCOs, perhaps bringing them into the net of contract-specific regulation, i. Swift's report did not find major problems with the operation of what was then an infant market, and instead recommended the ROSCOs sign up to voluntary, non-binding codes of practice in relation to their future behaviour. Prescott did not like this, but he did not have the legislative time allocation to do much about it. Swift's successor as Rail Regulator, Tom Winsor , agreed with Swift and the ROSCOs were happy to go along with codes of practice, coupled with the Rail Regulator's new powers to deal with abuse of dominance and anti-competitive behaviour under the Competition Act The codes of practice were duly put in place and for the next five years the Rail Regulator received no complaints about ROSCO behaviour.

In July , the DFT's White Paper on the future of the railways contained a statement it was dissatisfied with the operation of the rolling stock leasing market and believed there may have been excessive pricing on the part of the ROSCOs. While the TOCs are negotiating for a franchise they have some freedom to propose different rolling stock options. On 29 November , following a June complaint by the DfT alleging excessive pricing by the ROSCOs, the Office of Rail Regulation as it was then called announced it was minded to refer the operation of the market for passenger rolling stock to the Competition Commission , citing, amongst other factors, problems in the DfT's own franchising policy as responsible for what may be regarded as a dysfunctional market.

ORR said it will consult the industry and the public on what to do, and will publish its decision in April If the ORR does refer the market to the Competition Commission, there may well be a hiatus in investment in new rolling stock whilst the ROSCOs and their parent companies wait to hear what return they will be allowed to make on their train fleets. This could have the unintended consequence of intensifying the problem of overcrowding on some routes because TOCs will be unable to lengthen their trains or acquire new ones if they need the ROSCOs to co-operate in their acquisition or financing. Some commentators have suggested that such an outcome would be detrimental to the public interest.

This is especially striking since the National Audit Office , in its November report on the renewal and upgrade of the West Coast Main Line, said that the capacity of the trains and the network will be full in the next few years and advocated train lengthening as an important measure to cope with sharply higher passenger numbers. The Competition Commission conducted an investigation and published provisional findings [50] on 7 August The report was published on 7 April Three companies took over British Rail 's rolling stock on privatisation:.

Railways in Great Britain are in the private sector, but they are subject to control by central government, and to economic and safety regulation by arms of government. The DfT now itself runs competitions for the award of passenger rail franchises, and, once awarded, monitors and enforces the contracts with the private sector franchisees. Franchises specify the passenger rail services which are to be run and the quality and other conditions for example, the cleanliness of trains, station facilities and opening hours, the punctuality and reliability of trains which the operators have to meet.

Some franchises receive a subsidy from the DfT for doing so, and some are cash-positive, which means the franchisee pays the DfT for the contract. Some franchises start life as subsidised and, over their life, move to being cash-positive. The other regulatory authority for the privatised railway is the Office of Rail and Road previously the Office of Rail Regulation , which, following the Railways Act , is the combined economic and safety regulator. It replaced the Rail Regulator on 5 July The Rail Safety and Standards Board still exists, however; established in on the recommendations of a public inquiry, it leads the industry's progress in health and safety matters.

See Passenger transport executive. See List of companies operating trains in the United Kingdom. This is only the earliest of the main line openings: for a more comprehensive list of the hundreds of early railways see List of early British railway companies. Many lines closed by British Railways, including many closed during the Beeching cuts , have been restored and reopened as heritage railways. A few have been relaid as narrow-gauge but the majority are standard-gauge. Most use both steam and diesel locomotives for haulage.

Most heritage railways are operated as tourist attractions and do not provide regular year-round train services. Several pressure groups are campaigning for the re-opening of closed railway lines in Great Britain. These include:. From until , 27 new lines totalling track miles and 68 stations were opened, with 65 further new station sites identified by Network Rail or government for possible construction. The published proposals involved the re-opening or new construction of 40 stations, serving communities with populations of over 15,, including 14 schemes involving the re-opening or reconstruction of rail lines for passenger services.

These would be short-lead-time local projects, to be completed in timescales ranging from 2 years 9 months to 6 years, once approved by local and regional governments, Network Rail and the Department for Transport , complementing existing long-term national projects. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article uses bare URLs , which may be threatened by link rot. Please consider converting them to full citations to ensure the article remains verifiable and maintains a consistent citation style. Several templates and tools are available to assist in formatting, such as reFill documentation.

July Learn how and when to remove this template message. For rail transport in Northern Ireland, see Rail transport in Ireland. Railway system in Great Britain. Trains at London Paddington , one of Great Britain's busiest stations. Main article: History of rail transport in Great Britain. Main article: History of rail transport in Great Britain — History of rail transport in Great Britain. See also: Timeline of future rail network upgrades in Great Britain. See also: List of railway lines in Great Britain. See also: List of companies operating trains in the United Kingdom. Further information: Category:Railway stations in the United Kingdom. Major railway stations in Great Britain. Fenchurch Street Marylebone Moorgate. Main article: HS1. Main article: Intercity Express Programme.

Main article: High Speed 2. Main article: Northern Powerhouse Rail. Main articles: Rapid transit in the United Kingdom , Commuter rail in the United Kingdom , List of modern tramway and light rail systems in the United Kingdom , and List of British heritage and private railways. Local rail transport in the United Kingdom. Main article: Rail freight transport in Great Britain. British railway spot-hire companies. See also: Structure of the rail industry in the United Kingdom. Main article: List of British heritage and private railways. Office of Rail and Road. Archived from the original PDF on 7 September Retrieved 7 September ORR Data Portal. Archived from the original on 7 September Rail Delivery Group.

December Archived from the original PDF on 6 February Network Rail. Archived from the original on 29 September Archived from the original PDF on 19 October Retrieved 18 October Boston Consulting Group. British Rail — From Integration to Privatisation. Archived from the original PDF on 6 July Retrieved 4 August BBC News. Retrieved 2 August Retrieved 2 October Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 22 February Retrieved 25 January The Guardian. Full Fact. Retrieved 15 August Retrieved 12 April Retrieved 19 May Archived from the original on 8 December Archived from the original on 19 November Retrieved 5 August Retrieved 8 December Archived from the original on 8 October Retrieved 7 August Retrieved 14 March Southern Railway Email Group.

Retrieved 10 March

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