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June 2022

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The Little Book of Big Ethical Questions by Susan Liautaud

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Three Stars

Best for:
People looking for some conversation-starting ethical starting points.

In a nutshell:
Ethics professional Liautaud explores a bunch of questions and what the ‘right’ thing might be to do in each.

Worth quoting:
“So I try my best to be careful about making choices that affect the people who will be living with them.”

Why I chose it:
I like accessible pop philosophy books.

Review:
And yet … I need to stop buying pop philosophy books. I’m almost always disappointed. (Except How to Be Perfect. That was fun.) This book is fine, though some parts did frustrate me enough to make me underline a whole lot and write a lot in the margins.

The book breaks the questions down into six sections: family and friends; politics, community and culture; work; technology; consumer choices, and health. She includes questions like: “Should you read your child’s or teenager’s diary or journal?”; “Should voting be mandatory?”; “Should your employer have a say in what you post on your private social media?”; “Should robots have rights?”; “Is purchasing organic food and products a more ethical choice?”; “Would you be in favor of editing the genes of human embryos?”

It’s got a great range of questions, and I think I might have enjoyed the book more with a book club so we could have some good discussions, though some of the questions in the book are pretty straightforward for me, while for the author she sees nearly everything in shades of gray. That’s not necessarily bad, and I think she makes some great arguments against binary thinking in certain circumstances, but there was a bit too much bet-hedging for me.

The chapter that got me frustrated was looking at the question “Should CEOs speak out about important social and political issues of the day?” And her response was basically nope. As though CEOs don’t owe anything to their employees or customers other than dividends. Yuck.

(Also, once again, can philosophers please stop referencing Peter Singer! Ugh.)

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