An ambitious, though specialized, treatise on how to improve moral understanding.

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SO YOU THINK YOU CAN THINK

THINKING THROUGH MORAL DILEMMAS IN PURSUIT OF JUSTICE

A debut work of psychology recommends a system to make readers more adept at solving moral dilemmas.

Morality is a deceptively basic concept. Often invoked but rarely defined, morality is something that becomes increasingly subjective, particularly when personal interest is involved. Toews offers a new procedure for teaching morality that he calls the Principled Thinking Model: “The Principled Thinking Model presented in this book does not guarantee right answers but serves as a way of thinking through different situations involving moral dilemmas.” By considering the duties, rights, and motives of individuals as well as the merits and justice of a given situation, Toews proposes not only an approach to conflict resolution, but also a method of teaching people to respect objective parameters during the process. Citing his own research as well as thought experiments and hypothetical scenarios, the author guides readers away from selfish instincts and toward a shared experience based on empathy. The author dramatizes his ideas through dialogues between two fictional teachers, Bill and Mae, who explore the Principled Thinking Model through the lenses of their students and the pupils’ parents. Toews writes in a dense, scholarly prose that makes frequent reference to the work of his predecessors in the field and the relevant terminology. The Bill and Mae dialogues offer a change in tone, but they are nevertheless somewhat wooden and didactic: “Now Bill is struggling...it will not be easy to answer Mae’s question. He tried, ‘Having a right means that it is not wrong for a person to pursue a specific interest; nor would it be wrong not to pursue it.’ ” The volume is a bit too dry and academic for a general readership. That said, Toews’ in-depth work delivers an insightful take on the way individuals approach morality, and the tests he recommends to shape moral understanding are specific and comprehensive. It’s hard to argue that society isn’t in need of better moral standards—standards built on empathy, not simply religious or cultural values. The Principled Thinking Model provides one possible way forward.

An ambitious, though specialized, treatise on how to improve moral understanding.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 208

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2018

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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