Review by Choice Review
This first general encyclopedia on ethics is a well-organized, scholarly achievement. Several hundred faculty wrote the 435 peer-reviewed articles, which are substantial (most 1,000-5,000 words) and are aimed at introducing undergraduates to the issues. There are surveys on trends and eras; summaries of leading concepts, principles, and theoretical problems; and biographical entries for philosophers key to ethical theory. The majority of the articles are topical, covering metaethics, ethical theory, moral problems, and political, social, and legal theory. Each has a bibliography with see also and cross-references. There is little overlap with the standard Encyclopedia of Philosophy (CH, Jun'67). Some of the entries deal with emerging concerns ("Land Ethics," "Sexual Harassment") and recent philosophers (Habermas, Arendt) not covered in the older encyclopedia. Other topics like "Property" or "Punishment," are covered in both works, but the articles in the Encyclopedia of Ethics are centered on ethical issues and the bibliographies are much more current. Articles like "Treatment of Animals" update the coverage of the four-volume Encyclopedia of Bioethics (CH, Nov'79). The set includes two excellent indexes. The "Index of Articles" lists subjects and names found in the texts of the articles of the encyclopedia. This enables one, for example, to read the article "John Stuart Mill" and also locate all the other articles in the encyclopedia that mention Mill. The "Index of Bibliographies" lists by author or title the 5,800 books or articles cited in the bibliographies throughout the set. This set would be useful to many undergraduates since ethical issues impact disciplines beyond philosophy or religion. Recommended for any academic reference collection. E. Peterson; Montana State University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
Addressed to scholars and students of philosophical ethics, this two-volume encyclopedia is actually quite broad in scope, encompassing the history and theory of ethics as well as the relation of ethics to other fields of study. The 435 signed articles by 267 international scholars focus primarily on topics (e.g., Common Good, Humility, Social Contract) and personalities (e.g. Cicero, William of Ockham), including even a few living ethicists such as John Rawls. Entries are found on practical applications of ethics such as Legal Ethics and Nursing Ethics and on ethics in non-Western traditions such as Buddhist Ethics. Ethical issues of current interest such as Animals, Treatment of and Academic Ethics are also treated. The double-column articles range in length from 500 to 9,000 words. Readers may be confused by the sequence of the articles, since they follow a letter-by-letter alphabetical plan. Thus Mo Tzu appears after Motives. Many of the articles are excellent and provide the reader with a balanced overview of the topic under consideration, including historical background and a summary of the current discussion. Quite helpful is a 13-part, multiauthor series of articles on the history of ethics from the pre-Socratics to today. However, as with any collection involving so many contributors, the reader will find articles uneven in quality. For example, while the helpful article Virtue traces the concept historically, beginning with Aristotle, the article Conscience largely focuses on Thomas Aquinas and does not examine the concept among the Greeks, nor does it discuss the impact of Freud's views on contemporary discussions of conscience. And the reader may puzzle at the curiously brief article on Martin Heidegger (less than one page) compared with nine pages on feminist ethics. Likewise, while most articles are balanced, an occasional one may strike the reader more as an apologia than what would be expected in an encyclopedia (e.g., Homosexuality). Two helpful features are the brief but current bibliographies at the end of each article and an index of all authors mentioned in the 435 bibliographies. A fairly comprehensive index to the articles (which is alphabetized word by word, not letter by letter like the text) is also included. The four-volume Encyclopedia of Bioethics (Macmillan, 1984) covers that aspect of ethics in greater depth than can the set under review. Academic libraries and medium-size to large public libraries should purchase the Encyclopedia of Ethics. It will prove to be useful to scholars and university students but is also accessible to the general reader. (Reviewed Oct. 1, 1992)
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review
This generally well-written and well-edited encyclopedia covers mostly academic ethics as practiced in the English-speaking world, though it also covers aspects of moral philosophy in other cultures. Some 435 signed, cross-referenced articles (with bibliographies) treat such topics as metaethics; important moral concepts; perennial moral problems; moral, legal, political, and social theory; applied ethics; and the relationship between philosophical ethics and other fields. There is also a subject index and a name index of cited authors. The articles range from 500 to 9000 words in length, 70 percent being between 1000 and 5000 words. Usually, an article's length is appropriate to the philosophical importance of its subject. But it is puzzling to find that Feminist Ethics is given approximately the same space as Metaethics, or Rape as Benevolence; that Agricultural Ethics is about a third longer than Islamic Ethics; and that Sexuality and Sexual Ethics is slightly more than double Liberty, which also is shorter than Agricultural Ethics. Some omissions also are surprising: No article is devoted to Karl Popper nor, despite five lines of indexical references, to Bernard Williams, making the seven pages of capsule accounts of Women Moral Philosophers (who date from 420 B.C. to 1943) seem especially out of place. Moreover, the treatment of the moral realist's allegation of the supervenience of moral upon nonmoral properties is virtually nonexistent. These are minor flaws, however, that hardly mar a splendid achievement: the compilation of clearly written, well-organized, perceptive essays on a wide variety of topics in moral philosophy and related subjects. This encyclopedia belongs in all academic libraries and may be considered by larger public libraries as well.--Robert Hoffman, York Coll., CUNY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.