April 30, 2013Would You Eat Your Cat? Key Ethical Conundrums and What They Tell You about Yourself
Written By: Jeremy Stangroom
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (November 19, 2012)
From the Press Release
Where do you stand on capital punishment? What about your moral obligation to stem climate change? Most people who've taken Philosophy 101 or an ethics class might be able to confidently state whether they are more libertarian or authoritarian, or that they have a sound rationale for their stance on issues like suicide, pornography, and torture. But Jeremy Stangroom's Would You Eat Your Cat? Key Ethical Conundrums and What They Tell You about Yourself covers sticky moral ground that will inspire readers to delve deeply into their own belief system.
What if a confession of a one-night stand that started as a reconnection on Facebook-which would never be repeated or even considered by the offending spouse again-would cause the end of an otherwise happy marriage that might have continued for many decades? In his colorful and conversational prose, Stangroom argues that if one is a utilitarian in the tradition of the philosopher Jeremy Bentham, one would consider the greatest good for the greatest number of people above all, and might decide on that basis that a confession in the above situation would cause more pain than pleasure for the most people, and would thus refrain. A subscriber to the deontological ethics of Immanuel Kant, however, would believe that there are moral norms that exist independent of the pain/pleasure outcome of the people involved, and that one is duty-bound to obey what is right, regardless of consequence. Finally, a believer in the virtue ethics based on Aristotelian ideals would argue that the best action is the one that contributes to the cultivation of a virtuous character, e.g. the qualities of justice, fortitude, courage, temperance, and prudence. In the above example, the virtues ethicist may decide that if the deception of one's spouse were a singular instance, one's behavior may not merit condemnation and a confession would not be necessary.
Using creative parallel universe scenarios (a young man whose consensual photographs of his nude teenage girlfriend might be argued to be off-limits even for his private viewing many years later, when their relationship is over and she has become a celebrity) and real-life moral quandaries-is the driver who drove home under the influence and arrived without incident equally culpable to the one who drove home in the same state and had an accident that resulted in another's death?-Stangroom walks readers through a variety of view-altering situations that are answered, in the back of the book, by rationales and a philosophical explanation for each possible response.
In a shifting prism that makes black-and-white suddenly appear instead to be many shades of gray, Stangroom has us evaluate our instinctive or long-held views of right and wrong. Where do you stand on the barometer of morality?
Would You Eat Your Cat? is sure to shake up any dinner party and inspire hours of lively and thoughtful debate. This unique collection of classic and modern problems and paradoxes is sure to challenge your best ideas and give your ethical foundations a solid review.
About the Author:
Jeremy Stangroom is an elected Fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion. He is a cofounder of The Philosophers' Magazine and its New Media editor. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.
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