York Union debate on Wednesday the 22nd of January

News | Posted on Wednesday 15 January 2014

The second ever York Union debate will be held on Wednesday the 22nd January at 6.30pm in P/X001 Physics. The panel will be debating 'This House would make enhancing people’s happiness and wellbeing a central priority throughout Britain today'. Tickets are free but a contribution will be asked for on the night.

In these frugal times, alternative, non-material ways to achieve happiness and contentment are increasingly being advocated by bodies and individuals. But do organsations and groups really have the right and the capacity to try to encouarge others to be happy? Is it all not a bit unfeasible and unrealistic? 

Four speakers will be debating the motion.

Before entering the debating chamber, audience members will cast a ballot either for, against or abstaining from the motion. After the formal debate, an audience Q and A will take place. Following this, audience members will cast a second ballot to decide which side has won the day by changing the most minds.

To cover the expenses of hosting the event, we have a suggested donation of £1.50 from students and £3 from members of the public.

For the motion

Mark Williamson:

Mark Williamson has been Director of Action for Happiness since its inception in 2010. Action for Happiness is the prime organisation in the UK that seeks to spread happiness. It aims to promote “a fundamentally different way of life where people care less about what they can get for themselves and more about the happiness of others.” Mark has taken it from an idea on paper to a mass participation movement with tens of thousands of members and a wide range of activities. He regularly promotes the importance of happiness in the media-on the airwaves, on TV and in the papers

Alison Murdoch:

Alison Murdoch established the Foundation for Developing Compassion and Wisdom in 2005, an international education non-profit that helps people develop their capacity to be kind and wise, and for which she was given a Millennium Award by the charity UnLtd. Alison is the author of 16 Guidelines for a Happy Life. She is a regular contributor to BBC Radio and a Board member of the international Buddhist organisation FPMT Inc

Against the motion

Eamonn Butler:

Eamonn Butler is director of the Adam Smith Institute, the free market think-tank. He is the author of books on the pioneering economists Milton Friedman, F.A. Hayek, Ludwig von Mises and Adam Smith, and co-author of Forty Centuries of Wage and Price Controls and books on intelligence testing.  He is a former Vice-President of the Mont Pelerin Society an international body of classical liberal economists and has been ranked as one of Total Politics magazine’s Top 50 Political Influencers in the UK.

Claire Fox:

Claire Fox is a British libertarian writer and a prominent former member of the Revolutionary Communist Party. She is the director and founder of the British think tank, the Institute of Ideas, designed to be a public space where ideas can be contested without constraint.  Fox is regularly invited to contribute to BBC Radio 4's programme The Moral Maze, Any Questions? and has also appeared on Question Time. She has been on Time Out’s London Movers and Shakers list, and was named the capital’s No.3 activist.