Joshua Halberstam, Ph.D., divides his workday between teaching moral philosophy and directing marketing campaigns and managerial programs for a number of well-known companies. A frequent guest on "Oprah," he currently teaches philosophy at Columbia University. He is also the author of several other books, including Schmoozing and Everyday Ethics.
Writing for the lay reader, philosopher Halberstam offers a refreshing change from ethics books that sound preachy or abstruse. Rather than setting down definite principles of moral conduct, he discusses how value judgments influence our responses to a variety of commonplace situations. The result is a potpourri of topics, ranging from the importance of controlling our emotions to the value of learning to use small talk. These tidbits whet the appetite but do not provide much substance or cohesion. Halberstam urges the reader to find values to live by, yet he tends to view values as relative: ``A moral failure anywhere else is a saint in Sodom.'' Because it will appeal to the type of reader who enjoys chatty and upbeat self-help books, Everyday Ethics is appropriate for large public libraries.-- Ilse Heidmann Ali, Kyle Community Lib., Tex.
This pragmatic guide aims to penetrate the thickets of moral confusion in contemporary society. Although the subject matter is serious and of perennial concern, Halberstam ( Acing College ; Virtues and Values ), who is professor in the philosophy department at New York University, shows that while ``it takes effort to get yur ethics right . . . ethics can also be fun.'' Morality in relationships, in the expression of emotions, in the matter of judgments, and in the choices imposed by modern life are some of the aspects he addresses, with considerable verve and wit. He concedes that today's society makes it difficult for people to tie together the many strands of their personal value systems, but contends that the average person can successfully do so nevertheless. BOMC selection. (Apr.)