Wednesday, September 12, 2012

BC2012: The Good, the Bad and the Difference by Randy Cohen

I became interested in "The Ethicist" column in the New York Times Magazine when I learned that Chuck Klosterman took over the job this summer. Then a few weeks ago I found this book by the column's former writer, Randy Cohen, at Barbara's Bookstore in Burr Ridge for only $5.98.

I read this one aloud to my wife, and we enjoyed debating or just pondering the questions and answers within. Though a book like this is as sure to sow disagreements as Sal Paolantonio's overrated/underrated football book, we agreed with Cohen or at least understood his perspective most of the time. But for some reason, he seems to get a lot of unwarranted hate from reviewers. One must remember that ethics is not mathematics; there is often more than one correct answer.

I do agree with one reviewer who said "The Ethicist" works better as a column than as a book because it is a topic best explored in smaller doses. I didn't read more than 40 pages in one sitting, but I imagine plowing through the whole book in a day or two might be overwhelming (something that could be said of other collections of columns as well).

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