Ethics: Genocide and Democide--Power

Ethics: Genocide and Democide--Power

by John K. Roth

Scandals in business and government, technological developments, a growing sensitivity to issues of gender and race, a reaction against the excessive theoretical detachment of much modern philosophy have brought ethics to the forefront of public consciousness. In high schools, colleges, and universities, and professional schools, courses in ethics are increasingly in…  See more details below


Scandals in business and government, technological developments, a growing sensitivity to issues of gender and race, a reaction against the excessive theoretical detachment of much modern philosophy have brought ethics to the forefront of public consciousness. In high schools, colleges, and universities, and professional schools, courses in ethics are increasingly in demand. In this bibliography, a leading scholar in the field provides an annotated guide to resources.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Quite generally, encyclopedias are either carefully reasoned contributions to their subjects (e.g., Encyclopedia of Ethics, LJ 6/15/92) or, like this work, simple summaries either of what other people have said or of historical data. The difference does not mark the second kind as defective but only as having a different aim and audience. Ethics includes 819 alphabetically arranged articles of 250 to 3000 words, covering standard ethical concepts, institutions, distinguished people, ethically significant events, human behavior, and issues of applied ethics. Each entry of at least 1000 words includes a five-to ten-title bibliography, and all entries are cross-referenced and indexed alphabetically. The work also has about 200 graphic elements, some of which (e.g., chronologies, statistical data, etc.) are useful. Each entry relates its subject to a particular "type" of ethics (e.g., personal and social, military, civil rights, etc.), suggests the subject's significance (e.g., "focuses attention on x"), and defines the entry-term. The work is readable enough, but the conceptual entries in particular often muddle things by proceeding from faulty definitions, by stating something without explaining or analyzing it, by mistaking one thing for another, by oversimplifying, by ignoring a crucial distinction, or simply by inattention. There are serious omissions: harm, need, want, weakness of will, cost-benefit analysis, interpersonal comparison, wisdom, paternalism, right/obligation, A. Gewirth, H.L.A. Hart, R.B. Perry, etc. The length of entries is sometimes inappropriate (e.g., R.M. Hare gets as much space as Jacques Derrida and Bertrand Russell, and rape consumes about seven columns while utilitarianism and justice take about two each). Bibliographies sometimes fail to cite significant orthodox criticism of the views set forth in the entries (e.g., D. Ehrenfeld's criticism of humanism), cite inappropriately difficult works (e.g., anyone trying to leap from the justice-entry to John Rawls's A Theory of Justice probably will plunge to his or her philosophical death), or omit obviously first-rate items (e.g., Max Black's essay on deriving an ought-statement from is statements). The better entries are those requiring no conceptual analysis but only factual accuracy (e.g., those on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Watergate break-in). However, bias mars even some factual entries. Thus, the entry on nuclear energy mentions U.S., English, and Soviet reactor accidents but not France's extensive accident-free production of nuclear energy. Summarily, then, and subject to the qualifications already expressed, this encyclopedia is mediocre. It need not have been, as for example the excellent entry "Professional Ethics" shows. To the general reader, for whom it is evidently intended, it can provide information but not understanding.-Robert Hoffman, York Coll., CUNY
Zom Zoms
Ethics becomes increasingly important as reasoning power develops; however, the answers to ethical questions are rarely easy or unambiguous. "Ethics" is designed for those whose ability to make distinctions between right and wrong has developed beyond a basic level but not yet to the sophisticated level of academicians, philosophers, or theologians. In form, its 819 alphabetically arranged articles combine the features of a dictionary and an encyclopedia. That form, unlike the ethical dilemmas real life poses, follows a set pattern--identification of the category of ethics, the date that the topic became relevant, related topics, a brief definition, a summary statement of the topic's significance, the article proper, and "see also" references. Articles range in length from 250 words to 3,000. Longer articles are signed and include a bibliography. Time lines are provided for some topics, and there are black-and-white portraits of people treated Longer articles cover both theoretical and applied ethics as well as the thinkers who developed the concepts, not only in Western thought, but also in Asian and Islamic cultures. In the theoretical category, representative topics include "Altruism", "Freedom of Expression", "Loyalty", "Manichaeanism", "Selfishness", and "Will". In the applied category, topics include "Divorce", "Illness", "Profit Taking", "Racism", and "Torture". "Ethics" further demonstrates its concern for applied ethics by covering such topics of current interest as "Ethnic Cleansing", "Health Care Allocation", "Insider Trading", "Gay Rights", "Surrogate Motherhood", and "Kevorkian, Jack". All of these are accessible through a complete table of contents, a thematic index, an index of persons, and a general subject index The writing is suitable for students just grappling with knotty ethical problems. The authors explain the history and foundations of each topic, the relation of one thinker's ideas to his or her predecessors', and the topic's ethical implications. Articles on such volatile questions as abortion or the right to die lay out the various arguments in favor of certain positions but refrain from judgments "Ethics" covers nearly twice as many topics as Lawrence Becker and Charlotte Becker's "Encyclopedia of Ethics" ["RBB" O 1 92] and has a much stronger emphasis on applied ethics than does that book. It also has more articles on nonwestern cultures and on individual theoreticians. Given the wide range of topics "Ethics" touches on and its accessible level, this set will enjoy frequent use in public, high-school, and college libraries. The questions it addresses are timeless, and it will help readers come to informed, but probably not uniform, answers.
The first set (and a dandy one) in Magill's new Ready Reference series of sets, this three-volume work contains 819 alphabetically arranged articles ranging in length from 250 to 3,000 words and covering a wide variety of ethics-related topics. Unlike most other encyclopedias of ethics, this set includes many articles which deal with applied ethics, addressing such areas of ethical inquiry as animal rights, bioethics, environmental ethics, political and judicial ethics, the ethics of science and computing, civil and human rights, military ethics, the ethics of sex and gender, and the ethics of art and censorship. In the more traditional areas of religious and philosophical ethics, it redresses the privileging of the Judeo- Christian tradition in the West by the inclusion of topics taken from the religions and cultures of India, East Asia, and other non-Western areas of the globe. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

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