Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Be Good: How to Navigate the Ethics of Everything Hardcover – August 22, 2012
|New from||Used from|
Top 20 lists in Books
View the top 20 best sellers of all time, the most reviewed books of all time and some of our editors' favorite picks. Learn more
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
- Alaska Journal
"What [Cohen] has created is "a set of practice problems" meant to test and strengthen the reader's own ethical compass. "
- Publisher's Weekly
"What struck me most was his claim that, despite our quickly changing world of social media and altered interpersonal communications, ethics themselves have not changed much over time. Etiquette changes; social mores shift. But whether you're a Googler or a gladiator, the basic line stays the same: When in doubt about how to act, be good. We all know (pretty much) what that means."
About the Author
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
This collection is also a lagniappe for all his fans who treated "The Ethicist" as a family game played at the breakfast table each Sunday--one person would read the question aloud, then go around the table for each person's answer...and only then would they read Cohen's answer and discuss it. Perhaps you'd like to join the fun. Here's a sampling of questions to ponder:
After the second time the police show up in response to a neighbor's noise complaint, the reader demands to know who complained, but the police refuse. Does he have the right to know? .... During a transatlantic flight, a request comes for any doctors on board to make themselves known. Four were on board, but only one came forward. Ethical? .... During the anthrax scare, a reader who filled a prescription for Cipro that he didn't need was criticized by friends for hoarding, but claims this is similar to stockpiling food or water for an emergency. Who's right?Read more ›
To cut to the chase, if you like Randy Cohen columns you'll probably like the book. Otherwise probably not.
Columns are notorious for suffering when grouped together into a book. The mannerisms and turns of thought you liked a lot in once-a-week doses are often not so good when read en masse.
Cohen, who is also a humorist, tends to run interesting questions and then devote a lot of his answers to funny bits. Fun one at a time but possibly irritating all together.
But here's the good part: Cohen picks interesting real ethical issues to write about. You may or may not agree with his answers, and you may or may not like the idea of advice given outside the context of a community. But if you treat the columns as invitations to think through the issues yourself, or discuss them with friends, the book is golden.
For: Interesting issues raised, and treated in a manner that you might like
Against: Too much of the same, and the issues are treated in a manner you might not like.
Bottom line, once again: You'll probably like this if you enjoyed Randy Cohen's columns. If you didn't like the column you'll probably not like the book, except as a stimulus to discussion or even to enjoyable irritation and disagreement.
An ethics treatise will tackle the tough issues, right? Like abortion, mercy killing, homosexual marriage, collateral damage to civilians. Nope. This one ducks all of those. Instead we get the following:
--Is it ethical for a vegetarian/animal rights proponent to swim with the dolphins?
--Is it ethical for a vegetarian cat lover to buy meat-based cat food?
--Should the family of a little league batter pay for a car window smashed by a foul ball?
--Is it ethical for an opponent of the Iraq War to invest in oil futures?
--It is ethical to send a college-student intern for coffee?
--Is it immoral to sing "nigger" in Stephen Foster's songs?
--Should a woman resign from her Curves fitness center membership because the
owner opposes abortion?
With religious-like certitude, the author insists on casting his mundane public policy views as matters of high morality. So we get four pages of high-dudgeon argument on why cars are immoral. A former comedy writer, he seems to have no sense of humor about this.
Give us a break. We have better things to do.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
On the whole, a more than worthwhile exercise in ethical reasoning. Though I didn't agree with all his conclusions, the whole was worth considering, and provided fuel for my own... Read morePublished 2 months ago by William T. Masonis
I don't always agree with Randy Cohen's advice, and that makes this book all the more fun. He is honest and fair.Published 4 months ago by weathergirl
Enjoyable read. The author wrote for Letterman, and there are some laugh-out-loud lines. Also some pretty thoughtful responses to ethical questions. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Mary L Forman
While I support the author's right to make and print his ethical decisions, I do not agree that one person has the right to establish themselves as "the ethicist" or refer to... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Debbie Wood
A decent, quick read but nothing special.
I found his chapter intros too long but mostly enjoyed the reproduced Q&As, including the now-quaint "my friend googled someone,... Read more
Fascinating read that makes you think about what your values and ethics truly are, and more importantly, how they show up in real life. Read morePublished 8 months ago by CCinNC
This is a great anytime picker-upper. Read a section or the whole thing, jump in anywhere. Some situations really made me laugh... Read morePublished 22 months ago by cecemae