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How to Make Good Decisions and Be Right All the Time: Solving the Riddle of Right and Wrong Hardcover – December 16, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this philosophical self-help, author and academic King (Peace at Any Price, How the World Failed Kosovo) reveals a logical method for making ethical decisions that he calls a "Newtonian revolution" in moral science (aka the "DNA of right and wrong"), combining the golden rule and Jeremy Betham's calculus for determining "the Greatest Happiness for the Greatest Number": "Help someone if your help is worth more to them than it is to you." Most of the book is devoted to elaborating this principle, offering an intro-to-philosophy overview and clear arguments illustrated with numerous thought-experiments. (Should a man of integrity agree to work in a dictator's torture chamber in order to replace the evil sadist currently manning the switch? Yes.) Everyday ethical considerations abound; King is even able to formulate "a credible rule that tells us when to lie." Although his system is most easily applied to one-on-one situations and small groups, it tends to break down in large groups; King concludes that, just as Newton's revolution was superseded by quantum mechanics, his principles are inherently limited by real-world complexity. Still, an academic audience interested in practical philosophy will find King's approach to everyday morals bracing, optimistic and perhaps inspiring.
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Review

'Iain King's ambitious book is an honest attempt to think through and answer questions at the heart of morality. Anyone with an interest in practical answers to moral questions will find this book of interest too.' - James Garvey, The Royal Institute of Philosophy, UK

"...If your focus leaflets are starting to get soggy and you're frustrated with BBC political reporting, this book could be the perfect antidote for you — a reminder that there probably are deep moral truths out there and there is a reason to try to do what's right...This may well become a classic; it's certainly a good read, and definitely makes you think." - Liberal Democrat News

"...If your focus leaflets are starting to get soggy and you’re frustrated with BBC political reporting, this book could be the perfect antidote for you – a reminder that there probably are deep moral truths out there and there is a reason to try to do what’s right...This may well become a classic; it’s certainly a good read, and definitely makes you think." - Liberal Democrat News
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic; 1St Edition edition (December 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847063470
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847063472
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,328,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In this well-written book that deserves to be widely read and considered, Iain King proposes a new way of thinking about right and wrong. It starts with an elegant example about a man on a train called Sven, who gets caught up in a morally confusing situation. King then unpicks what happened. First, he explains how different traditions would have looked at Sven’s predicament (and, because of this book, I now understand Aristotle!). Then he goes on to break apart these theories to develop a new one, based around his so-called ‘Help Principle’. It was all very compelling. Reading it, I really felt a few ‘aha’ moments, when things all slot together and start to make sense. Overall, very well written, surprisingly down-to-earth for such a lofty topic, and – as the title suggests – not as serious as you might expect for such a profound book. I really loved it. Very highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
This book make complex ideas simple, so don't assume that it's only for intellectuals...or that it's aimed at management theorists. It illustrates how you can be an altruist without being a martyr, updating and applying ideas such as 'do as you would be done by'. The examples bring it to life, posing a variety of challenges and then navigating a way through with a clear explanation of why this would be the best decision in the circumstances. Read it and be right.
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Format: Hardcover
I don't agree with everything the author claims in this book, although it is very well argued. It's an interesting and rather unusual approach that attempts to ground ethical theory on a rational scientific basis. This book makes you think, and whether you agree with it or not you will come away a more thoughtful person. Recommended.
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