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Beyond Bumper Sticker Ethics: An Introduction to Theories of Right and Wrong Paperback – September 4, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0830839360 ISBN-10: 0830839364 Edition: 2nd
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Steve Wilkens (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is professor of philosophy and ethics at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California. He has also taught as an adjunct faculty member at Mount San Antonio College, Glendale Community College, Fuller Theological Seminary and Azusa Pacific University's C. P. Haggard Graduate School of Theology. His books include Hidden Worldviews, Christianity & Western Thought, Volume 2: Faith and Reason in the Nineteenth Century (coauthored with Alan Padgett) and Beyond Bumper Sticker Ethics. He is also coeditor with Paul Shrier and Ralph P. Martin of Christian Calling, Christian College: Higher Education in the Service of the Church.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic; 2nd edition (September 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830839364
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830839360
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By E. Ritzema on December 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is the second edition of Steve Wilkens's introductory survey of ethical theories. Wilkens, who teaches at Azusa Pacific University in southern California, devotes chapters to cultural relativism, ethical egoism, utilitarianism, behaviorism, evolutionary ethics, situation ethics, Kantian ethics, virtue ethics, narrative ethics, natural law ethics and divine command theory. The chapters on evolutionary ethics and narrative ethics are new in this edition.

The idea behind this book is that various ethical theories can be summarized in short slogans, or "bumper stickers." Even people who do not think about ethical systems organize their lives around one or more of these slogans, and Wilkens wants to bring the theories behind the bumper stickers out into the open so they can be evaluated. Wilkens writes from a Christian perspective, and places the ethical theories in the book into three categories: first he looks at ethical theories that contradict aspects of the Christian worldview, then theories that can be compatible with, but do not require, a Christian worldview, and finally theories that begin from a Christian standpoint.

In each chapter, Wilkens introduces the reader to an ethical theory, primarily interacting with one or two proponents of that theory. For example, in his chapter on ethical egoism he interacts with Ayn Rand, in his chapter on evolutionary ethics he interacts with E.O. Wilson, and in his chapter on narrative ethics he interacts with Stanley Hauerwas. Then he gives the positive aspects of each theory--he believes that all of them have some truth; otherwise they would not be so attractive to so many people--and potential weaknesses.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ta ethica on June 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
Wilkens, Steve. Beyond Bumper Sticker Ethics. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2011, 2nd edition.*

Beyond Bumper Sticker Ethics (hereafter BBSE), now in its second edition, is an introductory text to normative systems of ethics focusing on the main ethical systems espoused throughout the centuries (e.g. cultural relativism, egoism, virtue ethics, divine command theory, etc.). While most people have never heard of names such as "egoism" or "Kantianism" and what they entail, Wilkens starts with an experience that is common to most everyone: catchy slogans one is likely to find on a bumper sticker that essentially sums up an ethical system. For example, one may have never heard of the phrase "Ethical Egoism" but may be well familiar with the phrase "Look out for number one," which ethical egoism asserts. And so Wilkens wants to use these various familiar phrases as a departure to explore the various ethical systems and make explicit what is only implicit in these various bumper sticker one-liners (13).

The first chapter provides an introduction to the book where Wilkens discusses his method, along with other issues pertaining to ethics (worldviews, metaphysics, human nature, the discipline of ethics, etc.). Chapters 2-12 discuss eleven different ethical systems from cultural relativism to Kantian ethics to virtue ethics and divine command theory. In each chapter Wilkens provides a helpful introduction to the particular ethical system by expounding, at a somewhat high level, the main features of the ethical system. Wilkens then summarizes what the ethical system espouses, offers positive commendation, and then follows with critique by asking critical questions and then elaborating on what he sees as problematic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 12, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a very good introductory text in ethical systems. Eleven systems are briefly presented with a summary of the view the positives and potential problems. Everyone us a system, but most of us have never thought about why we make our moral decisions. You will end up with many questions, but that is what life is all about.
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Format: Paperback
Author: Steve Wilkens
Publisher: IVP Academic
Reading Level: Moderate
Pages: 230

“Many of us feel pressured to come up with the right answer right away. However, this can lead us to be dishonest…Truthfulness, goodness and rightness need to characterize not only our conclusions but also the means…if there is any place where Christians should be honest, it is the ethical process.” (221-222)

Many Christians today are familiar with two types of ethics: “Biblical” and “non-Biblical.” Or perhaps in laymen reductionism: “objective” and “subjective.” This mild exaggeration aside, it is intriguing that something every living person participates in goes unstudied by many. Simplifications rule the day. However, a vast array of ethical systems span the Biblical/non-Biblical and objective/subjective generalizations. Even the definition of “ethics” broadly varies through historical systems. In light of this Beyond Bumper Sticker Ethics: An Introduction to Theories of Right and Wrong is a valuable resource for the church and its instruction. Covering more than simply Christian Ethics, the volume serves as a valuable and critical introduction to ethics (24-27).

Authored by Steve Wilkens, this second edition of Beyond Bumper Sticker Ethics has the clarity of a seasoned professor. Introducing twelve distinct ethical systems in a compressed volume is no small. Wilkens expertly provides a general introduction, a detailed description of the ethical system, a summary, positive points for the system, and potential problems (in the form of questions and discussion). This format facilitates greater learning and is excellent as a collegiate textbook or for church/private weekly study.

Beyond Bumper Sticker Ethics presents these ethical systems in a constructive way.
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