It's not your imagination: we're living in a time of moral decline. Publicly, we're bombarded with reports of government leaders acting against the welfare of their constituents; companies prioritizing profits over health, safety, and our best interests; and technology posing risks to society with few or no repercussions for those responsible. Personally, we may be conflicted about how much privacy to afford our children on the internet; how to make informed choices about our purchases and the companies we buy from; or how to handle misconduct we witness at home and at work.
How do we find a way forward? Today's ethical challenges are increasingly gray, often without a clear right or wrong solution, causing us to teeter on the edge of effective decision-making. With concentrated power structures, rapid advances in technology, and insufficient regulation to protect citizens and consumers, ethics are harder to understand than ever. But in The Power of Ethics, Susan Liautaud shows how ethics can be used to create a sea change of positive decisions that can ripple outward to our families, communities, workplaces, and the wider world--offering unprecedented opportunity for good.
In this approachable guide, Stanford University ethics lecturer Liautaud empathizes with people striving to apply ethical reasoning in contemporary society. She walks readers through a framework designed to evaluate situations and get through the confounding clutter of grey areas and misinformation ... Throughout, Liautaud emphasizes that individual choices do matter, and urges readers to take responsibility for their actions and hold public officials and personalities responsible for theirs. Her final message is that ethics are a crucial component of our humanity, and that we all should take action, raise our voice, and take a stand. Readers will appreciate her logical guidance.
It might be hard, at the present moment, to read the title of Susan Liautaud’s The Power of Ethics without snickering or rolling one’s eyes ... Talking about 'the power of ethics' at this moment feels rather like talking about “the power of warmth” in the middle of a raging blizzard while wearing wet socks. The book’s title, at any rate, is misleading. The Power of Ethics is more focused on the demands of ethics than on its alleged powers; its main intention is to help its readers make better ethical decisions ... Interesting questions, however, do not guarantee satisfying answers, and Liautaud’s recommendations about how to resolve them are frequently frustrating and often vague ... Some parts of the framework, moreover, are quite problematic ... A bolder, more searching book would have encouraged its American readers to step away from themselves and think, objectively and self-critically, about their position in the world, how they have achieved it, and what it takes to maintain it. Its failure to seize this opportunity renders The Power of Ethics far less powerful than it might, and ought, to have been.
Liautaud, who runs her own consulting company and teaches ethics at Stanford, proves that it’s possible to write a book about ethics without deploying the words virtue or utilitarian or the names Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Bentham, or Mill. Readers accustomed to historically grounded philosophical works of broad abstraction or technical argumentation will find this text less demanding. In one sense, the book is philosophy for the digital age ... The author sometimes reduces difficult philosophical questions to a series of bullet points that would fit nicely in a corporate PowerPoint presentation ... Despite shortcomings, the simple-to-understand narrative encourages deliberate reflection, an ethical act in its own right.