READINGS ON ETHICS

Recommended by Tim Healy, Santa Clara University

This is a list of books, mostly recent, on the general subject of ethics. Included are some books which might not seem directly concerned with ethics at first glance but which I feel have an important relevance. These include books on leadership, conflict resolution and the soul.


Ethics Mary Ann Glendon and David Blankenhorn (eds.), "Seedbeds of Virtue", Madison Books, Lanham, Md., 1995

This is a series of articles on the origins or seedbeds of virtue. Where do we get our virtues? How do children first learn right from wrong. Are changes in the nature of society destroying our ability to pass on our morals? What is the role of manners in moral education? These are just a few of the questions raised in these excellent and sometimes highly academic, sometimes very approachable essays.

Stephen Carter, "Integrity", Basic Books, New York, 1996 Carter's focus here is on personal integrity, with strong applications to the public (political) sector. He emphasizes the importance of commitment on the part of the individual. For Carter, integrity is more than honesty. It includes also the obligation to constantly seek to identify what is right and wrong, and also to proclaim one's beliefs. Laura Schlesinger, "How Could You Do That: The Abdication of Character, Courage, and Conscience", Harper Collins, New York, 1996 Laura Schlesinger is a radio talk show host who answers questions which listeners raise on everyday moral issues. Her emphasis is on personal responsibility and accountability for the results of one's actions in the long run. She argues strongly for long term happiness instead of short term gratification. This is a fine book to give your teen-ager. William J. Bennett, "The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories", Simon & Schuster, New York, 1993 These are hundreds of inspirational stories, many of which one will remember from youth. You will find Horatius at the Bridge, Lincoln's Second Inaugural, Androcles and the Lion, Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and many, many more. These are the stories that we learned as children, and that we should be teaching our children. William J. Bennett, "The Children's Book of Virtues", Simon and Schuster, New York, 1995 This is the children's version of the previous book, with bigger print and lots of beautiful pictures. Read this one to your little children or grandchildren, as the case may be. Conflict Resolution Conflicts and ethical dilemmas have a good deal in common. Many of the principles involved in resolving ethical dilemmas can be used to help resolve conflicts. Dudley Weeks, "The Eight Essential Steps to Conflict Resolution: Preserving Relationships at Work, at Home, and in the Community", G.P.Putnam's Sons, New York, 1992 Conflict usually starts with "I am right, you are wrong." Conflict resolution starts with setting this aside in favor of a search for solutions with mutual benefits. Weeks shows how you can do this at home or anywhere. Leadership Many people believe that the good leader is an ethical leader, so the connection is not surprising. Diane Dreher, "The Tao of Leadership", Harper Business, New York, 1996 Leadership used to mean, for many people, "I am the boss, and you do what I tell you to do." But in recent years leadership has been seen increasingly as a cooperative enterprise in which the leader guides by example and by encouragement. Diane Dreher has adapted the 2500 year old wisdom of the Tao Te Ching to leadership. The result is fascinating, very readable, and very helpful for today's leaders. Tom Rusk, "The Power of Ethical Persuasion: From Conflict to Partnership at Work and in Private Life", Viking, New York, 1993 Rusk gives us a new vision of leadership, based on positive, open relationships, in which we trade positional power, which we have because of the position we hold, for personal power, which we have because of our character. Soul