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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



Ethics, Revised Edition, 3 Volumes edited by John K. Roth (Salem Press) Ethics, Revised Edition, is the first revision of Salem Press's well-received Ethics, which was published in 1994. This new edition adds more than 200 com­pletely new articles to the set, raising the total to 1,007 essays and 6 appendices. This edition also up-dates and expands many of the original essays and adds other new features. The main thrust of this edi­tion is on applied ethics, with particular emphasis on current issues. It audience is general public and the articles are written so any high school educated adult can read them with profit. Because of this general focus, the more technical debates in ethical theory are not covered, but there is a wide coverage of topical personages, events, and themes, most academic references do not include.

Ethics, in one form or another, has been a central issue in history since the earliest human beings began living together in communities. Throughout human history, people have always wondered whether they were being held accountable for their actions by a higher power or powers. Those believing that such higher powers exist have needed to know what their relationships with those powers are and what they are required to do or not to do. Those lacking such beliefs have needed to believe that their lives have meaning; they, in turn, have wondered how they should act and what they should do. In addition, all people need to know what other people expect of them and what the limits of their freedom of action are. All these questions are essentially ethical matters.

Many of the basic ethical issues with which early human societies wrestled still confront modern societies. However, early societies did not confront the vast variety of complex ethical issues that modern societies face. As societies have grown larger and more complex, and as human knowledge and technological ability have increased, the numbers and varieties of ethical issues that human beings face have also increased. For example, the twentieth century development of computer technology introduced knotty problems regarding privacy rights, the replacement of human workers by robots, and the possibility of artificially created intelligent beings. Along with the modern medical technologies that have extended human life spans have come complex bioethical questions such as balancing the needs of the productive young and the nonproductive old. Recent advances in biotechnology have raised a host of new ethical questions about genetic engineering and other matters that members of earlier societies could never have imagined.

Recent decades have seen unprecedented con­cerns about gross inequities in the worldwide distribution of food, resources, and power. These questions become more glaring as the world becomes more crowded and more interdependent and as the gaps be­tween the rich and the poor and the powerful and the weak grow larger. These changes are raising questions about how much responsibility those who have the means to prosper should take for promoting the wel­fare of those who lack the resources to survive.

Religion is another field in which new ethical questions are being posed. Throughout much of the world, traditional attitudes toward religion have changed, and many societies have seen growing numbers of their members reject the old ethical and moral codes of the religions into which they were born, while not finding other codes to replace them. At the same, many religious leaders, politicians, and other public figures have demonstrated that their own personal codes of ethics will not bear scrutiny. These developments and others have led many people to focus more attention on secular ethics. As a consequence, governments, professional organizations, industries, and individual businesses have adopted codes of ethics in attempts to improve their images, and many educational institutions have added ethics classes and programs to their curricula.

As the world enters the twenty-first century, new questions are being asked about political, economic, social, and scientific ethics. Examples of topics new to this edition range from the etiquette of cell-phone use and the pirating of digital media to the permissi­ble limits of stem-cell research and the role of reli­gion in world terrorism. As Dr. John K. Roth points out in his Introduction to this revised edition, the past decade alone has raised ethics questions that were not imagined when the first edition of Ethics was published.

Before the appearance of the first edition of Ethics in 1994, students interested in learning more about ethics had to consult many separate, specialized studies to gain a general knowledge of applied ethics. Salem Press created Ethics in its Ready Reference series to provide the first comprehensive reference work examining all aspects of applied ethics as well as the more traditional ethical areas of religion and philosophy. Ethics, Revised Edition, expands the earlier work's coverage by addressing many ethics issues that have come to prominence over the past decade. These include such religious topics as church-state separation, faith healers, Islamic ethics, the jihad concept, religion and violence, the Roman Catholic priests sexual abuse scandal, Scientology, and televangelists.

Ethics, Revised Edition, also gives particular attention to business and labor ethics, with new articles on such topics as advertising, several aspects of com­puter misuse, corporate compensation, professional athlete incomes, downsizing and outsourcing, and the tobacco industry. New topics relating to political and economic issues include Congress, distributive justice, famine as an instrument of oppression, care of the homeless, lobbying, lotteries, minimum wage laws, and the fairness of taxes. Personal and social ethics issues are the subject of a similar number of new essays, which include topics ranging from cell-phone etiquette and workplace dress codes to pre-marital sex and professional resumes.

The revised edition's increased emphasis on ap­plied ethics can also be seen in the new essays on con-temporary newsmakers whose ethical behavior—whether positive or negative—has been in the news. These people include William Bennett, Bill Clinton, Louis Farrakhan, Saddam Hussein, Jesse Jackson, Martha Stewart, and Desmond Tutu.

Some of the most important topics of the new es-says concern the burgeoning field of bioethics. New topics in this field include biometrics, assisted suicide, cloning, genetic engineering, and stem-cell re-search. International relations is another field that is constantly raising new ethics questions. Among the topics covered in new essays in this field are the Bosnia conflict; globalization; Iraq; and terrorism. New topics dealing with ethics questions relating to more purely military issues include biological warfare and bioterrorism, child soldiers, the just war theory, mercenary soldiers, peacekeeping missions, and war crimes trials.

Every article is written to emphasize the relevance of ethics to its subject. To that end, each essay begins with ready-reference top matter providing such information as dates and places of birth and death for important personages; dates of important events; a line identifying the most relevant type of ethics to which the topic relates; and a summary statement of the subject's significance in the field of ethics. In addition, at the end of every entry, a list of cross-references to other articles is provided to help guide readers to related subjects covered in the set. Within the main body of each article, clear subheads are provided to help guide readers.

More than half the articles in the set—all those 500 or more words in length—include bibliogra­phies. The bibliographies of all the original articles in the set have been updated through mid-2004. Additional bibliographical information is provided in an appendix in volume 3.

The essays in Ethics, Revised Edition, are illus­trated by 180 photographs and more than 200 maps, graphs, charts, and textual sidebars. The set's attention to current ethical concerns can be seen in the selection of photographs—more than one third of which were created after the publication of the first edition of Ethics.

The 6 appendices in volume 3 include an annotated list of organizations and Web sites devoted to ethics issues, with addresses and Web site information; a comprehensive and categorized bibliography; a glossary of basic ethics terminology; a biographical directory of people mentioned in the essays; a list of Nobel Peace Prize winners through 2004; and a Time Line of Primary Works in Moral and Ethical Philosophy.
The set's three indexes include a categorized list of essay topics arranged by types of ethics, an index of personages, and a detailed subject index.



Ethics is at once as old as human existence and as new as today's dilemmas and tomorrow's possibilities. It is thus both the same and different as experi­ence unfolds and history develops. Considering how and why those claims make sense may help to introduce this revised and expanded edition of Ethics.

Among the defining characteristics of human life are the abilities to think, make judgments, and remember. Human beings are also identified by webs of social relationships. They are members of families and societies; they have networks of friends, neighbors, and associates. As history has unfolded, human beings have participated in political and religious traditions and have become members of communities and citizens of nation-states. Enriched and compli­cated by human memories of past actions and their consequences, these characteristics and relationships require human beings to make evaluations. With the structure of human life and our environments forcing people to make choices and to live or die with the consequences of their decisions, human existence is unavoidably inseparable from distinctions between what is right and wrong, just and unjust, good and evil.

As human beings, we all deal constantly with factual matters. However, we also make value judgments, issue prescriptive statements, and formulate normative appraisals. In short, we try to figure out what we ought to do. Few of us are always and en­tirely content with the ways in which the events that surround us unfold. Often, we ask, How should events turn out? There is nothing new about these realities. They have been with humanity from its beginnings.

Whenever concepts such as justice vs. injustice, right vs. wrong, good vs. evil are employed, ethics comes into play. However, what it means to say this requires close examination. Many factors enter into the evaluations that we as human beings make. These factors include our different cultural backgrounds, religious training or lack of it, and the influences of our families, teachers, and friends. Ethics may refer simply to the value judgments that people make and to the beliefs that people hold—individually and collectively—about what is right or wrong, good or evil, precious or worthless, beautiful or ugly, and sacred or profane. Value judgments affect everything we do: from the ways that we spend our money to the inter­ests that our nations defend. Taken in this sense, it may be argued that every person, community, and nation is ethical. All persons, communities, and nations have normative beliefs and make evaluative judgments. However, to understand ethics adequately, a sharper focus is needed.

Ethics involves much more than a primarily descriptive use of the term suggests. For example, ethics also refers to the study of value judgments and the ways in which such judgments influence—and are influenced by—institutions. The study of value judgments has historical dimensions; it may concentrate, for example, on how a society's values have changed or developed over time. In one way or another, work of this sort has also been going on for centuries. Its roots are in the earliest human awareness that groups and persons are not identical, that they think and act differently.

How important is wealth? Is religion desirable? What kinds of education should the young receive? Versions of questions such as these are ancient, and responses to them both reflect and depend upon the value commitments that people make. Historically, people have taken varied positions on ethical issues, even as they have exhibited persistent continuity about some fundamental convictions such as those, for instance, that condemn murder. If ethics is inseparable from human existence, however, the manifestations of that fact are many and varied. Arguably, comparative study of ethical beliefs and practices throughout human history is likely to confirm that their variety is more pronounced than their common­ality.

Ethics does not end with either descriptions or studies of human beliefs and actions. The core of ethics, in fact, lies elsewhere. People make value judgments when they say, for example, that abortion is wrong or that the death penalty is right. Does the variety of values, and especially the arguments that con­flicting value judgments can produce, mean that value judgments are culturally relative and even personally subjective? Or, are some value judgments objectively grounded and true for everyone? For centuries, philosophers and religious teachers have debated such questions, which are crucial parts of eth­ics as normative inquiry.

Although agreement about how to answer these questions is not universal, ethics would not be ethics if it failed to emphasize the importance of critical in­quiry about the values that people hold. For example, much can be learned by asking, "Is this value judg­ment true, and, if so, why?" Much can also be learned by asking, "What makes some values positive—for example, courage, honesty, and trust? Why are other values negative—for instance, hatred, selfishness, and infidelity?"

In the form of critical inquiry about values, ethics contends that nothing is truly good or right simply because someone desires or values it. In fact, to say that something is good or right simply because some-one values it would contradict one of the most fundamental experiences of human beings; differences be­tween what is valuable and what is not depend on more than an individual's feelings or a culture's preferences. We know this because our value judgments can be mistaken. We often criticize, change, or even reject our judgments because we learn that they are wrong. Thus, while people may not agree about values, the questions that critical inquiry raises—for example, how should we evaluate the values we hold, and which values matter most?—are at the heart of ethics. Again, such insights are not new. Buddha, Confucius, Moses, Jesus, Socrates, and Plato brought them to life thousands of years ago, and even those ethical pioneers had predecessors in earlier history.

Ethics is as old as human existence itself. Its basic questions, concerns, and fundamental vocabulary have exhibited considerable continuity amid the ac­companying diversity. One of the reasons is that an-other feature of human life also remains deeply en-trenched, namely, that human beings so often make bad judgments, inflict harm, lay waste to things that are good, treat each other brutally, rob, rape, and kill. Ethics attempts to check and correct those tendencies by urging all people to make human life more caring and humane and by showing how it can be more just and promising. Such work is an indispensable part of ethics.

Unfortunately, human abuses of human life are often so great that ethics seems too fragile and weak to achieve what we hope—at least in our better moments—that it can accomplish. Ethical theory and teaching have a long history, but it hard to say with clarity and confidence that humankind has made steady moral progress. The twentieth century, after all, was arguably the most murderous in human history. Moreover, there is no assurance that the twenty-first will be an improvement, despite the fact that there may be more talk than ever about the need for ethics. Human life is full of discouragement, cynicism, and despair produced by human folly, miscal­culation, and wrongdoing. Undeniably, the importance of ethics looms large because the core issue remains: Will human beings ever take their ethical re­sponsibilities seriously enough?

Concerns of this kind have led philosophers to offer new approaches to ethical reflection. French phi­losopher Emmanuel Levinas is a case in point. After losing much of his family to Nazi butchery during the Holocaust of World War II, Levinas argued that ethical theory had failed to concentrate on something as obvious and profound as the human face. By paying close and careful attention to the face of the other person, he suggested, there could be a reorientation not only of ethics but also of human life itself, for our seeing of the other person's face would drive home how closely human beings are connected and how much the existence of the other person confers responsibility upon us.

Working in a different but related way, the late twentieth century American philosopher John Rawls proposed a form of ethical deliberation that could make human life more just. He suggested that we consider ourselves behind what he called a "veil of ignorance." In that position, we would not know our exact status or role in the world, but we would be able to deliberate constructively about the rights and rules that we would all find reasonable to implement. Rawls thought that such deliberation would place a high priority on liberty and equality. Much of his work in A Theory of Justice (1971) and other influential writings was devoted to considering how those values could best be mutually supportive. Rawls did not conclude that deliberation behind the veil of ignorance would lead reasonable persons to expect that everyone should be treated exactly alike. Inequality of the right kind could be beneficial for everyone, but for that condition to hold, caring attention would al-ways have to be paid to those who are the least well-off.

Levinas and Rawls are by no means the only recent innovators in ethical theory. This edition of Ethics covers many thinkers who have contributed to contemporary ethical thought. Nor is it true that Levinas, Rawls, and their most recent peers have de­veloped their ideas independently of previous tradi­tions in ethics. Levinas, for example, took seriously the ancient Jewish teaching that human beings are created in the image of God. The face of the other person, therefore, has at least traces of the divine within it and deserves respect accordingly. Rawls re-invented the idea of the social contract, which thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau developed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Levinas, Rawls, and their twenty-first century counterparts build upon and move beyond previous theories, trying to help humankind to respond to the ethical dilemmas of our time.

Ethical theory is not only a historical matter. It goes on and on, partly because the seminal thinkers of the past keep provoking reflection on the questions they raised and partly because human experience re-quires ethics to break new ground. The first edition of this encyclopedia appeared in 1994. As the twentieth century drew to its close, it became clear that human­ity faced ethical issues that had not existed a hundred or even fifty years earlier. For example, although the world knew nothing of nuclear weapons in 1894, their threat shadowed the world in 1994. In 1944, World War II and the Holocaust raged, but it was only during that year that Raphael Lemkin coined the term genocide. The grim reality denoted by that term erupted again in Rwanda in 1994, but too late to re­ceive attention in the first edition of Ethics.

The Internet was coming into widespread use dur­ing the early 1990's, but only one decade later it is affecting our lives—and our ethics—in ways that would scarcely have been imaginable in 1994. Stem-cell research was not a household word in 1994; however, as the twenty-first century unfolds, the issuessurrounding it are contested in national political de-bates. "Nine Eleven" meant nothing in 1994, but the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, made the devastation of ter­rorism all too real and ignited a new kind of war, one that has no clear end in sight.

Human experience and ethical dilemmas go hand in hand. As some problems appear to be resolved or eliminated, new ones rise up or old ones reappear in different and even novel forms. Hunger, poverty, and crime, for example, are age-old, but their shapes and sizes and the resources for dealing with them change with developments in politics, economics, technology, religion, and even ethics itself. Arguably critical ethical reflection would not exist—there would be no need for it—if human beings knew everything, un­derstood all the consequences of their actions, never made mistakes, always agreed with one another about what to do, and put exactly the right policies into practice. Human experience, however, is neither that clear nor that simple. Our knowledge is incomplete. We do make mistakes; we do disagree. Often, human life is full of conflict because different people do not see eye to eye about what is true and right. Thus, human life simmers, boils, and at times erupts in controversies, debates, and disputes. All too often, issues intensify and escalate into violence, war, and even genocide.

Fortunately, those destructive responses are not the only ones that human beings can make. Ethical reflection may prove insufficient to save the day; nevertheless it remains crucial, and it is ignored at our peril. Done well, ethical thinking can focus a community's attention helpfully and stimulate constructive activity—education, cooperation, better un­derstanding, caring, and beneficial political and economic action. Human experience will keep moving so that third, fourth, and fifth editions of this encyclo­pedia will be necessary. Meanwhile the contributors to this second edition have written with the hope that their scholarship can assist people to understand con-temporary life better and to make their own thought­ful responses to the ethical issues that require atten­tion both now and in the future. —John K Roth, Claremont McKenna College

Encyclopedia of Ethics, Second edition edited by Lawrence C. Becker and Charlotte B. Becker, 3 volume set, volume 1, volume 2, volume 3. (Routledge) In this second edition the Encyclopedia of Ethics has been to a large extent revised, and it has been expanded by more than 30 percent. Its intended audience remains the same: scholars, university students, and readers with a serious interest in philosophy and ethics. It attempts to cover ethical theory as constructed by English‑speaking philosophers. Its 326 distinguished contributors are authorities in their respective fields. The Encyclopedia's content was reviewed and designed through broad consultation, and all its 581-signed articles were peer reviewed. It includes cross-references to other articles within the text of each entry; and there are two indexes: a subject index and a citation index.

The emphasis in Encyclopedia of Ethics is on ethical theory. There are articles on metaethics, applied ethics, and ethical issues that are especially important to theory, as well as biographical articles on philosophers that have made significant contri­butions to theory. There are articles on abortion, animals, blackmail, homicide, the Holocaust, racism, rape, sexuality, slavery, and many other contemporary moral issues that have become crucial test cases for theory, but not on the whole panoply of topics one might find in a work devoted to applied ethics. There are articles on various religious traditions, and survey articles on the history of ethics, but again these articles were commissioned and written with an eye to themes that are especially important to ethical theory.

Since the publication of the first edition in 1992, the number of new reference works in philosophy has grown exponentially. There is now a large assortment of dictionaries, companions, and even encyclopedias devoted to various areas of philosophy, and of course there is now the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. However, the original aims and coverage of the Encyclopedia of Ethics have not been duplicated in any of those new works. The treatment of ethical theory in this work, for example, is densely populated with rather narrowly focused articles (e.g., pride, humility), many of which are accompanied by broadly conceived surveys (e.g., virtue ethics, virtues).

As before, however, the scope of this encyclopedia is considerably broader than the term "ethical theory" might suggest. Readers will find lengthy survey articles on the history and current status of philosophical ethics in other areas of the world; major traditions in religious ethics; the relation of philosophical ethics to technology, religion, law, literature, and social, political, and economic systems and theories; the relation of philosophical ethics to important contemporary social/political movements and prob­lems; and the relation of philosophical ethics to other fields of philosophy. In addition, the editors have given careful attention to theories of rational choice and economic analysis; feminist ethics; virtue theory; and moral psychology. Special attention should be paid to the general a twelve‑part, multi‑authored, history of ethics from the pre­-Socratics through the twentieth century. This work makes a very useful outline of the principle lines of western ethical theory

All of us who have worked on this project hope for astute readers. They will under­stand that no encyclopedia in philosophy can be complete or definitive, nor should it try to be, for that would mean trying to stop the philosophical enterprise itself. They will understand that no encyclopedia in philosophy should be used as a substitute for philosophy, or as a substitute for a direct encounter with the work it describes. And they will not fail, at the end of the first entry they read, to follow the references into the labyrinth.

Ethics in Context: The Art of Dealing With Serious Questions by Gernot Bohme (PolityPress) Gernot Bohme argues that ethics is always radically concrete. Taking moral questions seriously means taking the context of ethics seriously, above all, the profound shock to our moral confidence, symbolized by Auschwitz, and the moral dilemmas and dangers posed by our technical civilization. Ethics in Context is a valuable guide to the moral challenges facing the individual and society today.

In this important and accessible book, Gernot Bohme places philosophical ethics in the context of our individual and social lives. Arguing against the conception of ethics as a body of knowledge, Bohme defines morality as a matter of 'serious questions'. In the case of an individual, a serious question is one that determines that person's mode of living. In the case of society, a serious question is one that shapes our social norms.

In Ethics in Context, Bohme explores the key areas of moral living and moral discourse. He examines some of the urgent issues affecting society today, such as the moral implications of reproductive technology, man's mastery over nature and the right of citizenship.

This book is a lucid and engaging guide to ethics, which will be of great interest to students of philosophy and, indeed, to all those interested in the subject.

Gernot Bohme is Professor of Philosophy at the Technical University of Darmstadt

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