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Lunch » Tags » Untagged » Ethics for the Real World: Creating a Personal Code to Guide Decisions in Work and Life » User review

Don't lie

  • Apr 23, 2009
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I had high hopes for this book, but unfortunately it fell rather short of my expectations. It promises to give a comprehensive view of ethics as applied to the real world situations, but what it provides instead is a lot of examples and vignettes that try to showcase a certain moral dilemma. The stories are actually interesting in their own right, but in the end they don't provide a cohesive whole from which to extract important real world lessons. There are plenty of specific advices in the book, but they don't seem to fit any comprehensive ethical system. They are the kind of advice that you could easily pick up from a wise uncle or a senior colleague at work. The book is fairly light on ethical theory, which is not all that surprising considering its title, but one would still wish for a deeper grounding in the millennia of ethical thinking and practice. The authors claim not to advocate any particular ethical tradition or general approach to ethics, which I find a bit naive.

Some suggestions for dealing with difficult moral situations are quite ridiculous. The authors seem to have an inordinate appreciation of the power of rational persuasion in conflict-resolution situations. This may hold true for some people, but the kind of people on whom this would work are oftentimes the last persons who would put you in a moral quandary.

One constant theme that propagates throughout the book is the general aversion to lying, which obviously puts the author in the camp with those who advocate the existence of absolute moral imperatives. This is a viable moral stance, but in the real world there will be many situations where lying would be absolutely necessary in order to prevent some greater moral evil. The lack of appreciation for the trade offs between different moral actions is rather baffling.

Overall, this is an easy and readable book, but not the kind that will challenge your preexisting moral principles.

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More Ethics for the Real World: Cre... reviews
review by . April 23, 2009
I had high hopes for this book, but unfortunately it fell rather short of my expectations. It promises to give a comprehensive view of ethics as applied to the real world situations, but what it provides instead is a lot of examples and vignettes that try to showcase a certain moral dilemma. The stories are actually interesting in their own right, but in the end they don't provide a cohesive whole from which to extract important real world lessons. There are plenty of specific advices in the book, …
About the reviewer
Bojan Tunguz ()
Ranked #57
I am a benevolent rascal. I love lounging in bed on a Sunday morning. Rainy days make me melancholy, but in a good kind of way. I am an incorrigible chocoholic. I hate Mondays, but I get over it by Wednesday. … more
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Wiki

Few are likely to quibble that Thou shalt not illegally download copyrighted media files doesn't have quite the solemnity or clarity of Thou shalt not steal. Howard and Korver invite readers into ethics' gray areas and guide them in developing a personal ethical code hardy enough for the most ambiguous situations. The book presents a four-part plan to become aware of ethical temptation and compromise, the fundamentals of ethical logic and using ethics as an avenue to a happier life. The authors successfully tease out the prudential, legal and ethical dimensions of actions—however, readers might become frustrated with the lack of conclusive instructions. Furthermore, while the putative goal of the book is to assist readers in constructing their personal code, the sample models presented are so rife with inconsistencies that the book contributes to more ethical confusion than clarity. While the very nature of ethics acknowledges the varying shades of gray, a bit more black and white when it comes to ethical guidance might lead to a more satisfying read.(June)
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