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

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. 24, 1995

ISBN: 0-688-13442-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1994

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more