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Question your values.
About the Authors:
Evelyn McFarlane was born in Brooklyn and grew up in San Diego. She received a degree in architecture from Cornell University and has worked in New York and Boston as an architect. She now lives in Florence, Italy. In addition to writing, she paints and lectures on architecture for the Elderhostel programs in Florence.
James Saywell was born in Canada and lived in Asia as a child. Besides questions, he designs buildings and furniture. He divides his time among the United States, Italy, and Hong Kong.
Posted June 8, 2001
Many people who have been faced with moral temptation report that they are unprepared to deal with the issue. This sometimes means that they cannot decide, and in other cases makes it easier to choose the wrong way. Educators have found that by thinking about issues before we actually confront them, we are more likely to make good choices in a timely way. I found this book to be an excellent guide to that type of moral learning. The book is designed to take you into moral areas where you may not have to treat (but who knows what life will bring?). 'Most of the questions in this book you will never have to answer. (Unless your life is very interesting.)' What follows are 250 questions in 125 pairs. 'We suggest you answer the first question in each pair before reading the second question.' The reason for that instruction is because the first question is often a set-up for a more difficult question designed to help you see any potential hypocrisy (such as a double standard) in your reactions. For example, one opening question is: 'Would you be able to forgive your child anything at all?' Now most parents will probably answer pretty liberally here. We are all familiar with the picture of the Mother crying at the execution of her son, the condemned murderer, protesting that he was a good person. Then, you get hit with the second question: 'Would you forgive your mate anything at all?' From overhearing many people talk about that subject, most people have a long list of things they would not forgive a mate for. My assumption then is that you are supposed to think about why you would treat your mate differently from your child. Naturally, that might make sense of your child is still very young, with diminished capacity to hew to the straight and narrow. But what if your child is 40? Shouldn't the standard be similar, if not the same? Only you know what you would answer, but that is the sort of thinking that these questions will stimulate. The subject matters cover stealing, cheating, priorities for your life and society, preferences in family relations, relationship values, relationships to strangers, priorities for character traits, sexual attitudes, sex role attitudes, choices between self-interest and self-sacrifice, racial attitudes, life span versus quality of life issues, faithfulness, trust, law versus morality, and self-interest versus morality and legality. The questions are short and pretty simple. How you answer them is not so short and simple, especially after you see the second question. Leave yourself the option to go back and rethink your answer to the first question. I found the experience of reading this book and answering the questions to be a very valuable and rewarding one. I think you will, too. The only weakness in the book is that the design makes it unnecessarily hard to keep from seeing the second question too soon. You should keep an opaque piece of paper with you to cover the bottom of each page as you go. A better design would have been to have had the first question on a right hand page, and the second question on the following left hand page. That would have inWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 15, 2010
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