Be Good: How to Navigate the Ethics of Everything

Randy Cohen. Chronicle, $24.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4521-0790-5
Culled from his 12-year tenure as the man behind the The New York Times Magazine's "The Ethicist," this anthology of Cohen's columns, now divided into categories such as "Family," "Money," "Technology," and "Love & Sex," blends nuanced ethical discussions with gentle humor. Although much of the content will be redundant for regular readers of "The Ethicist"—Cohen provides brief essays at the beginning of each chapter, but little else is new—the organization of this book helps clarify Cohen's formation of a code of ethics that is socially progressive and community-based. Although some of the dilemmas presented are thought-provoking on their own, the most interesting portions are those in which Cohen returns to earlier decisions, sharing letters from readers, revising arguments, and discussing controversies that resulted from certain pronouncements. Seeing Cohen defend his decisions against intelligent dissenters and remark how the passage of time has altered his thinking on others is perhaps the most instructive aspect of the book—a demonstration in how to actually practice the art of ethical thinking. One could argue this was Cohen's intention all along; in assembling this volume, what he has created is "a set of practice problems" meant to test and strengthen the reader's own ethical compass. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/10/2012
Release date: 08/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4521-2022-5
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