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Ethics and Experience: Moral Theory from Just War to Abortion [Kindle Edition]

Lloyd Steffen
1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Ethics and Experience introduces students to the key topics in moral theory through provocative moral issues—just war, abortion, physician assisted suicide, the death penalty and more. Steffen helps students bridge the gap between ethical theory and experience through developing a “common agreement” ethical system that is applicable to a variety of moral problems and issues with clear language and real-life examples.

Editorial Reviews


Steffen (Lehigh Univ.) seeks to develop a general moral theory whose application to particular issues will do full justice to people's lived moral experience, as he claims utilitarianism, Kantianism, and virtue theory, each in its own way, do not. Rather than begin by directly discussing his own "common agreement" theory, a variant of natural law theory, he has it emerge from one of its particular applications, just war theory, and then applies it to other issues....Summing Up: Recommended. Lower- and upper-level undergraduates. (CHOICE)

Steffen helpfully explains how ordinary people use the natural law in their everyday deliberations. (Public Discourse)

Lloyd Steffen's reinterpretation and creative application of the just war theory is provocative and insightful. Steffen provides a comprehensive account of the moral ideas behind the just war tradition, especially the idea that force ordinarily ought to be avoided. He applies these ideas in surprising ways to a variety of issues: from nonviolent activism, adultery, and lying to suicide, the death penalty, and abortion. This book should be read by everyone who is interested in finding ways to resolve the dilemmas of applied ethics. (Andrew Fiala, professor of philosophy, California State University, Fresno, California State University, Fresno)

This book is a lively attempt to reconcile ethical theory with longstanding moral practice. With considerable skill, Steffen extends just war theory and develops a deeper ethic than those that focus narrowly on duty, virtue or consequences. (John Lachs, Vanderbilt University)

Lloyd Steffen's book presents a weighty and nuanced re-examination of persistent moral questions. Theoretical ethical frameworks are woven into practical considerations of how we experience moral dilemmas to create an engaging, readable volume. Steffen's book, like his frequent newspaper columns represent a clarion call to think through issues with the care required to become bold enough to act on your conclusions. (Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State)

Rarely has so much good sense been put between the covers of a book on how we can love life wisely in a complex world. Lloyd Steffen sets out to seek a holistic method for doing ethics in any context. (Daniel C. Maguire, Marquette University; author of A Moral Creed for All Christians)

About the Author

Lloyd Steffen is professor of religious studies and university chaplain at Lehigh University, where he also is the director of the Center for Dialogue, Ethics, and Spirituality and director of the Lehigh Prison Project.

Product Details

  • File Size: 513 KB
  • Print Length: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (July 23, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00915NVG0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,944,423 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Uncharitable pro-abortion polemic February 22, 2013
I read the chapter on abortion in this new book by Lloyd Steffen, who (from above) is “professor of religious studies and university chaplain at Lehigh University, where he also is the director of the Center for Dialogue, Ethics, and Spirituality.” Given Steffen’s pro-abortion stand, it was not surprising to learn that he (at the minimum) used to have ties to Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. As detailed below, Steffen--among other things--tries unsuccessfully to use just war theory to defend his stance, misleadingly describes his views as “moderate”, and depicts pro-lifers as worshippers of a “divine fetus”.

1.Steffen turns to just war doctrine to see what light it might shed on the abortion debate, but after much meandering, leaves the reader puzzled as to what his argument is. According to Steffen, just war theory permits, under tightly constrained conditions, the unintended but foreseen taking of human life. It bans directly intending the death of innocent human life. Steffen claims that just war doctrine does not involve an absolutist ethic, but never makes clear why the exceptionless ban just mentioned does not reflect a morally absolutist view. Rhetorically, this distracts the reader, whom he tries to convince (after invoking just war theory) of his non-absolutist view on abortion.
Regarding abortion, Steffen maintains that conflicts between the interests of mother and child can justify the taking of the child’s life. Apparently Steffen believes there is nothing wrong with the mother directly intending the death of her child even if the mother merely does not want her child: "a pregnant woman can experience a pregnancy she did not welcome or for some other reason may not want to continue, and when this occurs she can face a conflict.
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