What can we learn from…? Oriel College, Oxford, 3 May 2023


‘What can we learn from…?’ events take as a starting point important thinkers and cultural figures from the past. They offer an opportunity to understand the emergence of key ideals related to freedom and to explore and debate if and how they remain important in the present.

Each salon starts with short, accessible talks from thought-provoking experts and critics who will offer insights into key thinkers in history. Talks are followed by plenty of time for discussion, with the chance to ask questions and put forward points. Together we will interrogate why these thinkers and the ideas they promoted can offer valuable insights that help us understand freedom then and now.


Space is limited. To reserve a place, fill in the form below

Wednesday 3 May, 7.00pm-9.00pm

Historically liberty and toleration have been staples of liberal society. Join us to explore the historic roots and contemporary realities of these important ideals.

1: Milton and Liberty
Andrew Doyle, broadcaster; author, The New Puritans

‘Give me liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience’, declared the poet John Milton in Areopagitica. Often associated with seventeenth-century non-conformist Puritans, Milton rejected licensing of printed texts and rebuffed the notion that prohibitions, bans or force could create virtuous men. Today, amidst the rise of a new puritanism, being offensive can be deemed a crime, demands for ‘social justice’ brook no dissent and uttering uncomfortable truths can lead to public shaming. From the ages of the Puritans, old and new, what can we learn about the case for freedom of belief and expression?

2: John Locke and Toleration
Dr Tiffany Jenkins, writer and broadcaster

It was only in the seventeenth century that Western society started to seriously consider the philosophical foundations of toleration of competing religions and beliefs. Today, values of tolerance and respect are regularly upheld. But some argue that tolerating free expression has its limits and society should not be placed at risk of intolerant ideas or even overly judgemental views. Should we tolerate free expression, or retain a right to be intolerant of intolerance?


Oriel College
Harris Lecture Theatre
Oriel Square, Oxford, OX1 4EW
See Google Maps for location.


presenter, Free Speech Nation, GB News; author, The New Puritans: how the religion of social justice captured the Western world
Andrew Doyle is a writer, comedian, and a presenter on GB News. He is the author of Free Speech and Why It Matters (2021) and The New Puritans: how the religion of social justice captured the Western world (2022). He is the creator of the satirical character Titania McGrath, who has published two books – Woke: a guide to social justice (2019) and My First Little Book of Intersectional Activism (2020). He began presenting his show Free Speech Nation on GB News in June 2021. Before then he was a columnist for spiked, a panellist on the BBC’s Moral Maze and regularly reviewed the papers on Sky News.

writer and broadcaster; author, Strangers and Intimates: the rise and fall of private life
Tiffany Jenkins is a writer, author and broadcaster. Her last book, Keeping Their Marbles: How Treasures of the Past Ended Up in Museums and Why They Should Stay There, was published in 2016 to critical acclaim. Her next book, Strangers and Intimates: the rise and fall of private life, will be published in 2023 by Picador. Tiffany is an honorary fellow Art History at the University of Edinburgh, and is host of the podcast Behind the Scenes at the Museum, in which she talks to key figures about the big ideas rocking the cultural world, charting the trends and dissecting the controversies. She has written and presented several programmes for BBC Radio 4, including the series A Narrative History of Secrecy.


ALASTAIR DONALD, convenor, Living Freedom
DR MARIE KAWTHAR DAOUDA, Oriel College, University of Oxford
DR ROGER P L TEICHMANN, St Hilda’s College
DR ALBERTO GIUBILINI, Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics