Beyond Bumper Sticker Ethics: An Introduction to Theories of Right & Wrong by Steve WilkensWith this introductory text, Steve Wilkens takes a fresh, friendly approach to understanding and evaluating various ethical systems. Beginning each chapter with a bumper sticker slogan (If it feels good, do it; God said it, I believe it, that settles it; When in Rome?), he then moves on to examine the complex questions, conclusions and assumptions that lie at its heart. Wilkens acquaints students with the vast array of classic and contemporary approaches to ethics: cultural relativism, emotivism, behaviourism, hedonism, ethical egoism, atheistic existentialism, utilitarianism, categorical imperative, hierarchicalism, situation ethics, theistic existentialism, theological voluntarism, and natural law ethics. For each system, his thorough introduction explores its popular bumper sticker expression, its core assumptions and basic elements, the questions that give rise to it, and its strengths and weaknesses. Students, professors and general readers will welcome Wilkens engaging text which simultaneously offers a well-rounded assessment of ethical systems and shows the relevance and prevalence of ethical ideas in daily life.
Book Review: Beyond Bumper Sticker Ethics
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Wilkens, who teaches at Azusa Pacific University in southern California, devotes chapters to cultural relativism, ethical egoism, utilitarianism, behaviorism, evolutionary ethics, situation ethics, Kantian ethics, virtue ethics, narrative ethics, natural law ethics and divine command theory. The chapters on evolutionary ethics and narrative ethics are new in this edition. Wilkens writes from a Christian perspective, and places the ethical theories in the book into three categories: first he looks at ethical theories that contradict aspects of the Christian worldview, then theories that can be compatible with, but do not require, a Christian worldview, and finally theories that begin from a Christian standpoint. In each chapter, Wilkens introduces the reader to an ethical theory, primarily interacting with one or two proponents of that theory. For example, in his chapter on ethical egoism he interacts with Ayn Rand, in his chapter on evolutionary ethics he interacts with E. Wilson, and in his chapter on narrative ethics he interacts with Stanley Hauerwas. Then he gives the positive aspects of each theory—he believes that all of them have some truth; otherwise they would not be so attractive to so many people—and potential weaknesses.