In his latest interview on episode 359, Dr. Nigel Biggar shares his insights on how to differentiate between good and evil in regard to the British Empire. As a renowned historian and ethicist, Dr. Biggar has been a leading voice in evaluating the impact of Britain’s colonial past on the world. In this episode, he sheds light on the complexities of this issue and offers a thought-provoking perspective that challenges traditional assumptions. Keep reading to discover his unique take on this controversial topic.
In a recent video sponsored by Birach Gold and Bulletproof Everyone, Dr. Jordan Peterson and Dr. Nigel Biggar discuss Dr. Biggar’s new book titled “Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning”. Dr. Biggar is a prominent British theologian, academic, and author who has made extensive contributions to Christian ethics. The two scholars delve into the ethics of imperialism, the motivations behind British colonies, their role in the slave trade, and the effects of modernity. In this article, we will explore the highlights of their conversation and how Dr. Nigel Biggar distinguishes between good and evil in the British Empire.
The Ethics of Imperialism
In the video, Dr. Biggar asserts that imperialism is not inherently unethical, although it can be. He explains that imperialism is a way of projecting one’s culture, political values, and economic interests onto other countries. Dr. Biggar distinguishes between different forms of imperialism, such as colonialism and economic imperialism. He emphasizes that good imperialism can promote civilization, economic growth, and political stability, whereas bad imperialism involves exploitation, violence, and oppression. It’s essential to assess the intentions, outcomes, and moral responsibilities of imperialism, according to Dr. Biggar.
The Motivations for British Colonies
Dr. Biggar contends that British imperialism was motivated by a combination of economic, strategic, political, religious, and moral reasons. He states that the British were not the only imperialists and that imperialism was a global phenomenon in the 19th and 20th centuries. Dr. Biggar acknowledges that British imperialism brought benefits to some people, such as modern infrastructure, education, and healthcare. However, he also acknowledges that imperialism resulted in many harmful consequences, such as cultural genocide, racial discrimination, and forced labor. Dr. Biggar emphasizes the need for a nuanced and balanced evaluation of British imperial history.
The Role of Forgiveness in Conflict Resolution
Dr. Biggar highlights the importance of forgiveness in healing the wounds of past conflicts. He claims that forgiveness does not entail forgetting or excusing the wrongs done, but rather recognizing the humanity of the wrongdoers and the victims. Dr. Biggar argues that forgiveness is necessary for reconciliation, which involves restoring broken relationships and building mutual trust. However, he also acknowledges that forgiveness may not be possible or desirable in all cases, depending on the severity and frequency of the wrongs done. Dr. Biggar emphasizes that forgiveness should not be confused with impunity or complacency.
Just War Theory and Moral Responsibility
Dr. Biggar explains the principles of just war theory, which is a set of ethical guidelines for the use of military force. He stresses that just war theory does not justify all wars, but it provides a framework for how to conduct wars justly. Dr. Biggar suggests that just war theory addresses important issues, such as the justification of the resort to war, the proportionality of the means and ends, the protection of non-combatants, and the responsibility for war crimes. He argues that nations have a moral responsibility to avoid unnecessary wars and to minimize civilian casualties.
Dr. Darwin’s Resignation from the “Ethics and Empire” Project
During the conversation, Dr. Biggar mentions that Dr. Joanna Dairian has replaced Dr. Darwin in the “Ethics and Empire” project due to personal reasons. Dr. Darwin, who is an Australian historian, resigned from the project following an online backlash against her views on British Imperialism. Dr. Biggar expresses his disappointment at the cancel culture that seeks to silence dissenting voices and curtail academic freedom. He calls for respectful and rational dialogue, rather than ideological polarization, in discussing controversial topics.
Online Harassment and Cancel Culture
Dr. Biggar acknowledges that online harassment and cancel culture can have devastating psychological and personal effects on individuals, leading to their withdrawal from public life. He recalls an incident in which he was vilified and defamed on social media for his views on British Imperialism. Dr. Biggar asserts that cancel culture is anti-intellectual, illiberal, and intolerant, as it seeks to shut down free speech and academic inquiry. He urges people to cultivate the virtues of listening, empathy, and humility in engaging with others, even if they disagree with them.
In summary, Dr. Nigel Biggar distinguishes between good and evil in the British Empire by evaluating the ethics of imperialism, the motivations for British colonies, their role in the slave trade, and the effects of modernity. He emphasizes the importance of forgiveness in conflict resolution, just war theory in military ethics, and moral responsibility in international relations. Dr. Biggar also expresses his concern about online harassment and cancel culture, which can undermine intellectual discourse and academic freedom.
Who is Dr. Nigel Biggar?
Dr. Nigel Biggar is a prominent British theologian, academic, and author who has made extensive contributions to Christian ethics. He is also the Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at the University of Oxford.
What is the “Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning” book about?
The “Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning” book by Dr. Nigel Biggar examines the ethics of imperialism, the motivations for British colonies, their role in the slave trade, and the effects of modernity.
What is just war theory?
Just war theory is a set of ethical guidelines for the use of military force, which provides a framework for how to conduct wars justly. It addresses issues such as the justification of the resort to war, the proportionality of the means and ends, the protection of non-combatants, and the responsibility for war crimes.
Why did Dr. Darwin resign from the “Ethics and Empire” project?
Dr. Darwin resigned from the “Ethics and Empire” project due to personal reasons, following an online backlash against her views on British Imperialism.
What is cancel culture?
Cancel culture refers to the practice of ostracizing, boycotting, or punishing individuals or groups for holding or expressing views that are deemed unacceptable or offensive by a certain social or political group. It often involves online harassment, social media campaigns, and public shaming.