A compelling guide to ethical thinking for everyday life
In How to Make Good Decisions and Be Right All the Time Iain King presents an introduction to moral philosophy from the ancient Greeks to the Enlightenment and beyond. He argues that right and wrong need a Newtonian revolution so that they are no longer a matter of judgment or guesswork and presents a system of simple formulas for solving difficult moral quandaries. Clearly argued, the book combines new ideas with old and rips apart traditional tenets of morality, dismantling even the golden rule that you should "do unto others as you would have done unto you." In their place, the author constructs a new, comprehensive system of ethics, identifying the basic DNA of right and wrong and offering clear advice on how to be good in today's complicated and challenging world.
Sometimes controversial and thoroughly engaging throughout, How to Make Good Decisions and Be Right All the Time is required reading for anyone with a difficult decision to make.
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and small groups, it tends to break down in large groups; King concludes that, just as Newton's revolution was superseded by quantum mechanics, his principles are inherently limited by real-world complexity.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.