Academic journal article Ethics & Medicine

Beyond Bumper Sticker Ethics: An Introduction to Theories of Right and Wrong, 2nd Edition

Academic journal article Ethics & Medicine

Beyond Bumper Sticker Ethics: An Introduction to Theories of Right and Wrong, 2nd Edition

Article excerpt

Beyond Bumper Sticker Ethics: An Introduction to Theories of Right and Wrong, 2nd edition Steve Wilkens. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2011. ISBN 978-0830839360; 230 PAGES, PAPER, $20.00.

As a university professor teaching bioethics, I have been using Steve Wilkens' insightful treatment of ethical theory for many years, but it was getting out of date (the first edition was published in 1995). So, it was with great enthusiasm that I greeted the arrival of the second edition last year.

The rationale for Beyond Bumper Sticker Ethics is a simple fact of life: the study of ethics can be dauntingly complex and sometimes a bit boring. Arcane terms such as meta-ethics, deontology, supererogation, normative ethics, and consequentialism dot the landscape and seem to make moral philosophy the realm of scholars in academic ivory towers.

Wilkens helps to dispel this reputation with an approach suited to just about everyone. He writes from a Christian perspective, summarizing the various approaches to ethics with simple "bumper sticker" slogans such as "When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do," representing cultural relativism, or "God Said It, I Believe It, That Settles It" as a description of divine command theory.

The author organizes his subject by differentiating among theories that are incompatible with Christian faith, theories that are neutral towards faith, and theories that presuppose it. He introduces the main historical advocates of each approach and then gives strengths and weaknesses of each view. …

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