Apart from the classics and academic textbooks, there are many fun and useful books on practical, everyday ethics. Here are a few of my personal favorites. If you know of another that should be on this list, send an e-mail here. and I’ll take a look.
Would You Kill the Fat Man? by David Edmonds, Princeton University Press, 2013, 220 pages. An examination of the trolley problem and all of its ramifications and implications. Reviewed on this site in October 2013.
The New Ethics of Journalism: Principles for the 21st Century by Kelly McBride and Tom Rosenstiel, editors, CQ Press, 2013, 243 pages. An excellent examination of how the Internet has forced journalists to update long-standing ethical standards, with provocative essays from many of the sharpest minds in the field today. Reviewed on this site in August 2013.
Be Good: How to Navigate the Ethics of Everything by Randy Cohen, Chronicle Books, 2012, 318 pages. A collection of columns by The New York Times’ original “Ethicist,” organized by subject, with short introductions to each section. Reviewed on this site in July 2013.
Being Good: A Short Introduction to Ethics by Simon Blackburn, Oxford University Press, 2001, 176 pages. This is a nice introduction to the subject, clearly organized and easy to understand. Blackburn highlights the complications and threats that prevent us from doing the right thing and explores the prevailing theories for overcoming them.
Practical Wisdom by Barry Schwartz and Kenneth Sharpe, Riverhead, 2011, 336 pages. Schwartz and Sharpe argue that it’s not enough to have rules and incentives to follow them—that we also need judgment—what Aristotle called practical wisdom—to balance competing principles. You can get a good introduction to this excellent book here.
Why It’s Hard to Be Good by Al Gini, Routledge, 2006, 244 pages. Gini’s answer to the title’s question is that we’re all naturally self-centered, yet doing the right thing requires us to act on behalf of the community we live in. This is a very accessible, sensible survey of ethical thinking and its application to today’s world.
Everyday Ethics and Social Change by Anna L. Peterson, Columbia University Press, 2009, 201 pages. Can ethics be used to change the world for the better? How? Those wondering about the intersection of everyday morals and the greater political world will get lots of stimulating thought from Peterson, a professor of religion at the University of Florida.
The Good, the Bad, and Your Business by Jeffrey L. Seglin, John Wiley & Sons, 2000, 224 pages. Seglin is the former author of a regular column on business ethics that appeared in Inc. magazine, and he brings an easy conversational style to complex issues. The book is provocative without being preachy. Seglin looks at business problems from both the company and customer points of view, often showing the realities in stark terms.