Book Review: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Ethics

I know how people view “The Complete Idiot’s” series of books (I’m one of these people or I used to be) but when you get a complicated subject like ethics, then you start to view things a little differently. It is hard to know where start with complicated objects and when more scholastic beginner series fail you (in my case it was Oxford’s “A Very Short Introduction”) then you start to look at more mainstream ones and this is why I bought this book.

This book is divided into five parts. Part one is about the philosophy of life, ethical dilemmas, the difference between faith and reason, and how to balance religion and science when thinking about ethics. Part two discusses the nature of ethics. Part three has general recipes for guiding ethical decision-making. Part four is about applied ethics in the fields of the environment, biomedicine, business, and animal rights. And finally, part five is about the ethics of social justice.

I think what I mostly loved about the book is the easy way it described the main theories in ethics. The authors made it fun and they did not seemed to be biased towards one specific theory. Instead they explained each one and then gave you the flaws in them, and then how they can be applied. The conclusion they come to is that each of these theories has a flaw, and the best way to use them is to mix them together to get the best result. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to dip their feet into the ocean of ethical theories.


Ethics A Very Short Introduction by Simon Blackburn

This is a book that is relatively short.  It is divided into three parts.  The first looks at the responses people sometimes give when faced with ethical questions.  And these responses in different ways are threats to ethics.  In part two the author looks at some of the problems that life throws at us, how justice clashes with rights and the ideas of happiness and freedom.  The final part, part three, the author discusses the justification for ethics, and its connection with human knowledge and human progress.

I read this book pretty fast mainly because the author wasn’t saying anything profound.  As an introduction to ethics it left a lot to be desired.  I finished the book wondering what ethics really are…