In the monthly "Ethical Inquiry" series, we examine ethical questions, highlighting a broad array of opinion from journalism, academia, and advocacy organizations. Our intent is to illuminate and explore the complexity of some of the most vexing ethical questions of our time.

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Ethical Inquiry: December 2009

Recommended Books From the Year

For the December installment of "Ethical Inquiry" we are taking the opportunity to recommend some books published in the last year on topics related to the work of the Ethics Center, as well as a few selections not as closely tied to our work that have impressed members of our staff.

on ethics/justice

JusticeJustice: What's the Right Thing to Do? by Michael J. Sandel ‘75
What are our obligations to others as people in a free society? …Is it sometimes wrong to tell the truth? Is killing sometimes morally required? Is it possible, or desirable, to legislate morality? Do individual rights and the common good conflict? ...This book is a searching, lyrical exploration of the meaning of justice, one that invites readers of all political persuasions to consider familiar controversies in fresh and illuminating ways. [from the Macmillan website]

Idea of JusticeThe Idea of Justice by Amartya Sen
Social justice: an ideal, forever beyond our grasp; or one of many practical possibilities? More than a matter of intellectual discourse, the idea of justice plays a real role in how—and how well—people live. And in this book the distinguished scholar Amartya Sen offers a powerful critique of the theory of social justice that, in its grip on social and political thinking, has long left practical realities far behind. [from Harvard University Press website]

Elements of Moral PhilosophyThe Elements of Moral Philosophy (6th Edition) by James Rachels and Stuart Rachels
A short and refreshing review of philosophical concepts relevant to ethics, justice, peace building and conflict resolution. Chapters include: “Does Morality Depend on Religion?” and “The Ethics of Gender and Care.”

by Ethics Center International Advisory Board members

Practicing CatholicPracticing Catholic by James Carroll
Using his own experiences as a backdrop, acclaimed author (An American Requiem (1996) and Constantine’s Sword (2001)) and former priest Carroll examines the evolution of the American Catholic Church in the latter half of the twentieth century. [from the Booklist review] review chapter reprint

The New Asian HemisphereThe New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East by Kishore Mahbubani
One of Asia's leading intellectuals illuminates what will be on the agenda as Western domination ends and the Asian renaissance impacts world politics, markets, and history. [from]

by members of the Ethics Center's extended justice community

A Lucky ChildA Lucky Child by Thomas Buergenthal
Thomas Buergenthal, now a Judge in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, tells his astonishing experiences as a young boy in his memoir…. He arrived at Auschwitz at age 10 after surviving two ghettos and a labor camp. Separated first from his mother and then his father, Buergenthal managed by his wits and some remarkable strokes of luck to survive on his own. [from the Hachette Book Group website]

by Brandeis faculty

The Cartoons That Shook the WorldThe Cartoons That Shook the World by Jytte Klausen, Lawrence A. Wien Professor of International Cooperation (Politics)
On September 30, 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published twelve cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Five months later, thousands of Muslims inundated the newspaper with outpourings of anger and grief by phone, email, and fax; from Asia to Europe Muslims took to the streets in protest. This book is the first comprehensive investigation of the conflict that aroused impassioned debates around the world on freedom of expression, blasphemy, and the nature of modern Islam. [from description]

from Brandeis University Press

Between Jew and ArabBetween Jew and Arab: The Lost Voice of Simon Rawidowicz by David N. Myers
An exploration of the fascinating Jewish thinker Simon Rawidowicz and his provocative views on Arab refugees and the fate of Israel, this book brings new attention to Rawidowicz (1896–1957), who taught at Brandeis University in the 1950s. …Asserting that the Arab Question had become a most urgent political and moral matter for Jews after 1948, Rawidowicz called for an end to discrimination against Arabs resident in Israel — and more provocatively, for the repatriation of Arab refugees from 1948. [from the Tauber Institute website]

about Brandeis University

The Rose Art Museum at BrandeisThe Rose Art Museum at Brandeis by Michael Rush and others
The Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University possesses one of the most extraordinary collections of any academic institution, spanning the last century in Western art, from the early European and American Modernists up to the 21st century. This catalogue of its holdings demonstrates the breadth of the collection. [from Abrams Books website]

about Louis Brandeis

Louis D. Brandeis: A LifeLouis D. Brandeis: A Life by Melvin Urofsky
This biography looks at Brandeis as reformer, lawyer, and jurist, but also Brandeis the man.

memoirs, fiction, and creative work

This Child Will Be GreatThis Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa's First Woman President by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (2009)

In January 2006, after the Republic of Liberia had been racked by fourteen years of brutal civil conflict, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf—Africa's "Iron Lady"—was sworn in as president, an event that marked a tremendous turning point in the history of the West African nation. In this stirring memoir, Sirleaf shares the inside story of her rise to power, including her early childhood; her experiences with abuse, imprisonment, and exile; and her fight for democracy and social justice. [from HarperCollins website]

Silence of God and Other PlaysSilence of God and Other Plays by Catherine Filloux
A collection of five new plays by Catherine Filloux, a playwright involved with the Creative Resources for Coexistence and Reconciliation initiative of the Slifka Program in Intercommunal Coexistence, housed at the Ethics Center. An award-wining playwright Filloux has been writing about human rights and social justice for the past 20 years. She is a co-founder of Theatre Without Borders, a volunteer organization engaged in international theatre exchange. [from the book jacket and the University of Chicago Press website]

Say You're One of ThemSay You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan
In five separate narratives, each told from the perspective of a child from a different African country, Say You're One of Them vividly portrays the horror and beauty to be found in both the history-altering events and the mundane details of everyday life. In these stories of family, friendship, betrayal and redemption, Akpan highlights the tenacity and perseverance of his young protagonists. [From Oprah’s Book Club website]

The Museum of InnocenceThe Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk, translated from the Turkish by Maureen Freely
The protagonist of the Nobel Prize-winning author's new novel takes romantic attachment to the extremes in a sensuous tale set in Istanbul. [from the Los Angeles Times review]

Suggestions for other selections from 2009 that we missed in our list?  Let us know.

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