Three speakers, three ideas

WEDNESDAY, JULY 22ND, 7.30pm  



Following a successful first event, the De Beauvoir Balloon will descend once again to test which of three ideas is worth saving for a civilised future!

On July 22nd, the unique debate format will give three speakers the chance to make a compelling case for a cause they care about, and challenge them to defend its worth. At the end of the evening, a quick vote will decide which of the three ideas has earned the right to stay in humanity’s hot air balloon.

. william-davies-photo            Sherine El Taraboulsi            AustinWilliams


“The science of happiness is ultimately a tool of social control.”

Dr Will Davies is a Senior Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he is Director of the Political Economy Research Centre. His weblog is at and his new book is “The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business sold us Wellbeing” (Verso).


“The ethics of cowardice: radicalisation is a manifestation of our moral failure.”

Sherine El Taraboulsi is completing her doctoral studies at Oxford University on the role of civil society in divided countries, with a focus on Libya, pre-Qaddafi. She is a Weidenfeld Scholar, sits on the Middle East task force at the Atlantic Council and has also served as a consultant to the Salzburg Global Seminar and the United States Institute of Peace.


“Why sustainability is the most dangerous philosophy of our times.”

Austin Williams is the director of Future Cities Project and associate professor in architecture at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou, China. He is a Chartered Architect, film producer and journalist and was previously the technical editor at the Architects’ Journal and transport correspondent at the Daily Telegraph. He is the co-author of “The Lure of the City: From Slums to Suburbs” (Pluto Press) and an editor of “The Future of Community: Reports of a Death Greatly Exaggerated.”

The Inaugural De Beauvoir Balloon Debate

Claire-Fox           edmaggs4           Robert Phillips

Wednesday May 20th, 7.30pm

St Peter’s Crypt, Northchurch Terrace, London N1 4DA

Three fascinating speakers will have 15 minutes each to make their case for an important idea. Each will face challenges from a questioning audience, and each other, to test its strength. At the end of the evening, a quick vote will decide which of the three ideas has earned the right to be saved.

Claire Fox of the Institute of Ideas will argue that freedom of speech means nothing without the right to offend.

Ed Maggs, of the antiquarian booksellers Maggs Bros., will give two cheers for inertia: why the printed word won’t lie down and die.

Robert Phillips of Jericho Chambers will explain how PR has perished and that trust must therefore triumph.

Who will convince De Beauvoir that their idea most deserves a place in humanity’s hot air balloon?Join the first of what we hope will be a regular series of thought-provoking and enjoyable evenings.