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Hardcover The Good, the Bad & the Difference: How to Tell the Right from Wrong in Everyday Situations Book

ISBN: 0385502737

ISBN13: 9780385502733

The Good, the Bad & the Difference: How to Tell the Right from Wrong in Everyday Situations

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Book Overview

The man behind the New York Times Magazine's immensely popular column "The Ethicist"-syndicated in newspapers across the United States and Canada as "Everyday Ethics"-casts an eye on today's manners... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Informative, Makes you think and funny as well

Well-written, at times humorous and making you think, and sometimes think hard, this book is filled with many of Randy Cohen's letters previously printed in his New York Times Magazine column (as well as other newspapers). Divided into categories are many letters which on occasion appall but always hold our interest as we read the answers Mr. Cohen has written. There is much fodder for discussion here as of course the reader will not always agree with the author. This book makes a good basis upon which to discover how your friends and relations feel about many ethical issues. After finishing the book yesterday I am still thinking about several of my own answers and believe the book to have had a more profound effect than I expected.

Provocative look at how to be good in the real world

Read THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE DIFFERENCE byRandy Cohen, author of THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE'Spopular column "The Ethicist" . . . it is a provocative look at today's manners and mores with interesting advice about how to be good in the real world.Though I did not agree with everything that the author wrote,it got me thinking . . . it also pointed out to me thatthere are certainly no easy answers to a whole bunch of complex questions. Cohen has an engaging, breezy style that certainly did not makethis a dry philosophical tome . . . in particular, his humor added to my enjoyment of the book.There were many memorable passages; among them:[on whether to tell a boss if you're pregnant when looking for a job]But inconvenient as it may be for the boss, pregnancy is a fundamental experience that society must accommodate, rather than ask individuals to cobble together their own solution. On the other hand, if you'd like to make your every human needsubservient to the demands of commerce, you might try thisstrategy: Pledge to deliver your baby in the employee lounge during your break, making a little cradle out of an empty box of file folders. That'll show you're a team player.[on when to break up with a girlfriend whose father is severely ill]Those in a hurry to break up often seek justification from another Academy Award winner, William Shakespeare: "If it were done, when 'tis done, then "twere well it were done quickly," but the line was spoken by Macbeth; Shakespeare did not intend itas a dating tip. As you know, MacBeth's breakup with Duncandid not go well.[on buying cheap seats and sneaking down to expensive ones]It is unfortunate that your dad's seat changing embarrasses you.But when you are 11, nearly everything your parents do is embarrassing. So as long as you're being mortified, you might aswell endure it in good seats.I only regret that Cohen's column is not carried in my localpaper.

A common-sense approach to everyday situations

One of the best columns in The New York Times Magazine each week is "The Ethicist" by Randy Cohen. It's sharp, incisive, and provides food for thought. Cohen's book is an expansion on his column, and in a fun twist, he provides an opportunity for his readers to get into the act. One of the strongest points of Cohen's column, and his book, is that he doesn't render his opinion and slam the door shut; he opens the door for further discussion and argument. Cohen admits he doesn't have all the answers, and he includes some comments from writers who have diverged from his opinions. Basically, Cohen's take on ethics is situational; he doesn't hand down ironclad edicts. Most of the questions he receives from readers fall into the "Do I tell or not" category; e.g., do I tell my neighbor I saw her husband with the sexy blonde in the bar. Cohen's advice is to consider your role in the situation; if you are merely a snoopy neighbor then MYOB; but if you are a cop who has busted hubby in a house of ill repute where he stands a high risk of catching HIV and passing it on to his wife, then the wife has a right to know what risks she has been inadvertently exposed to (and let hubby duck before the boom lowers on him). Cohen isn't out to preach or moralize; his goal is to make his readers think, and in this he succeeds admirably. The book is both fun and a learning experience for anyone who reads it.

Cohen brings a "town square" approach to ethics

(First, the full disclosure: I am in the acknowledgments for this book, because the Samuel Johnson quotations throughout this book were drawn from my Johnson web site. But we hardly know each other.)Although this book collects many of the columns Cohen has written for the New York Times and in syndication (as "The Ethicist" and "Everyday Ethics," respectively), this book is far more than just the original columns. Added here is more overview and dialog (which a brief newspaper column would never accommodate). Some of the back and forth is in the original Q & A format of the column, but it's been augmented by postscripts and perspectives from others in the fields related to the original questions. Thus, while Cohen's answers are basically prescriptions and brief explorations, the subsequent discussions from Cohen and the others round the issues out. So, in a sense, it becomes a town-square-type discussion you won't see in some other books.The really interesting part is that, by engaging others, Cohen opens it up to more discussion and thought from -you.- Cohen doesn't always read like the final word, and you may find that this involving book provokes discussions in your own home. (This past weekend, a question surrounding how much to include on a resume led to a good 20 minute discussion between friends.) Any time a book gets you to think, and then actually leaves its original medium on the page to become part of a broader discussion, is pretty impressive, if you ask me. So many other books of this ilk come off as absolute pontifications, that they seem to do all the thinking for you, and for me that's not enough.
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