HOW GOOD PEOPLE MAKE TOUGH CHOICES by Rushworth M. Kidder

HOW GOOD PEOPLE MAKE TOUGH CHOICES

Resolving the Dilemmas of Ethical Living: Truth vs. Loyalty, Individual vs. Community, Short-term vs. Long-term, Justice vs. Mercy
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Whatever happened to the discipline of ethics? At a time when moral questions tend to be argued with more heat than light, Kidder offers practical guidelines for a coherent and mindful approach to ethical dilemmas. In the early morning hours of April 26, 1986, two electrical engineers, working at the control panel of Reactor Number Four at Chernobyl, overrode six separate alarm systems to see how long the turbine would free-wheel when the power was removed. For Kidder (Shared Values for a Troubled World, not reviewed), the ensuing catastrophe is a parable of why ethics matters. Founder of the Institute for Global Ethics, he deals not so much with the problem of choosing between right and wrong as with the daily dilemmas of choosing between right and right. Should I always tell all the truth? Should I divulge professional information that may help others but will certainly ruin an individual's life? Kidder spotlights the contemporary concern for ethical standards in corporations while guiding us through the thought of Aristotle, Kant, Bentham, and others. He posits four models for dilemmas of right vs. right: the clashes between truth and loyalty, individual and community, short-term and long-term goods, justice and mercy. He goes on to propose three principles he believes will enable us to resolve moral dilemmas: consideration of the likely consequences of our decision, knowledge of the laws of conduct, and adherence to the Golden Rule that we should do as we would be done to. Finally, Kidder lays out a practical scheme for approaching problematic situations and looks at complex modern questions such as computer hacking and ways of combatting AIDS. He offers no answers, instead giving readers a program for energetic self-reflection. A brilliant and practical synthesis that squarely faces all the issues and can be grasped by the thoughtful nonspecialist.

Pub Date: Jan. 24th, 1995
ISBN: 0-688-13442-4
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1994