Daily Archives: May 12, 2009

Book of the Month: Ethics for the Real World

Authors Ronald Howard and Clinton Korver take a very personal, hands-on approach to ethics in this book. Unlike many introductory books on ethics, they do not spend much time on assisted suicide, abortion, death penalty, etc. but examine the ethical choices that most of us have to make on a daily basis. They also refuse to give a cookie-cutter approach to ethics, but demand that readers come up with their own ethical code.

Some of their points really resonated with me:

  • Commit in advance to ethical priniciples so that you are less likely to rationalize when having to make an ethical choice.
  • Focus on improving yourself, not on criticizing others.
  • Do not blindly follow others’ ethics (including your religion, country, or subculture). Develop your own code.
  • One of the easiest ways to determine if something is unethical is the old-fashioned question:  Would I want this done to me?  Or how would I feel if this action were put on the front page of the newspaper?
  • Studies show that many of us tell “white lies” to save someone’s feelings. However, studies also show that the recipients of those lies do not feel especially grateful for being deceived.
  • We should be very careful about the secrets we agree to keep.

And I could go on and on. But your best bet is to check this book out to read. I promise you that you’ll probably feel uncomfortable about some of your previous ethical slip-ups and optimistic about doing better in the future.