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Ethics for a Brave New World [Paperback]

By John S. Feinberg (Author) & Paul D. Feinberg (Author)
Our Price $ 21.25  
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Item Number 128108  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   480
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6" Height: 1.18"
Weight:   1.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 1994
Publisher   Crossway Books/Good News
ISBN  0891077367  
EAN  9780891077367  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Serious, well-thought out answers to the moral and ethical problems of our culture from an evangelical perspective are hard to come by. So Ethics for a Brave New World, by Paul and John Feinberg, is a welcome breath of fresh air. A comprehensive look at several of the major ethical issues confronting our society, this book is a reasonable and rational look at how Scripture can (and must) inform ethical decisions, even in our "Brave New World". The title for this book comes from a line in Shakespeare's The Tempest, and from Aldous Huxley's frightening future vision Brave New World. Both offer a fitting description of our exciting and scary times, and this book offers serious seekers valuable information about how to make proper moral and ethical decisions. Issues discussed include: moral decision-making, abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, sexual morality, birth control, homosexuality, genetic engineering, divorce and remarriage, Christian faith in a nuclear age, and the Christian and the secular state. Extensively documented (sixty pages of endnotes) and indexed by both subject and Scripture passage, Ethics for a Brave New World is a great reference tool. But is much more than simply a reference tool, because it came out of ethical struggles faced by the authors. They are able to project empathy and hope, while offering practical, real-life solutions to problems they have already gone through. So whether you are struggling to find the answers to our culture's ethical questions, or whether you think you know the answersalready, you need to read this book. Its one of the best comprehensive evangelical critiques of ethics and society available, and it truly has the potential to transform morality in our culture.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Mediocre  Jun 9, 2006
I read this book for an ethics class during the summer (quite a long read for a week long intensive course! Especially considering it was coupled with "Five Views on Law and Gospel," ed. by Dr. Wayne Strickland) but have unfortunately very little positive to say about it.

On a positive note, this book has a voluminous amount of information on the various topics (e.g. homosexuality, bio-ethics, marriage and divorce, abortion, human sexuality, war) presented from what I would call a conservative-evangelical perspective (in the same vein as Wayne Grudem, Norman Geisler, Josh McDowell and the like, so take that as you may...) But in many instances (especially the 90+(!)pages of bio-ethical issues) the Feinbergs focus so much on case-study, schematical, and procedural data that the actual moral implications are often relegated to a surprisingly small portion of the overall text. Moreover, the amount of data presented often makes the Feinbergs arguments hard to follow, as their views seem to often be intercolated (and as such, defatigated and thinned-out) within sections of opposing viewpoints, and on occasion it becomes difficult to discern section divisions.

Further, despite the Feinberg's propensity for logical argumentation, as I continued to read the book, there were continually more numerous instances where I felt that certain arguments didn't mesh with one another. For instance, on p.373, in a section debating the validity of nuclear armament, the Feinbergs reject the so called "nuclear-winter" argument, which states that there should be a unilateral disarmament of nuclear weapons due to the fact that they could cause a "nuclear-winter". They reject this argument on the grounds that it is "speculative," and that nuclear weapons, "wouldn't necessarily produce a 'nuclear winter'" Now, this may in fact be true. My problem with it a single page earlier they reject unilateral disarmament because of a HYPOTHETICAL (that is, speculative) situation: "rather than decreasing the risk of nuclear war, disarmament might actually increase it, because allies of a disarming nation might feel threatened." (p372) They go on to hypothesize, for instance, that if the US were to disarm, Germany might feel the pressure to themselves gain nuclear weaponry. This, again, may in fact be the case. But it seems inconsistant to, on the one hand, dismiss an opponents viewpoint as "speculative," and yet attempt to further your own cause with an equally speculative hypothesis.

More inconsistancies show up in the chapter on homosexuality. In a particular section within the chapter, they are attempting to pinpoint the amibiguous usage of arsenokoitai and malakoi (200-201). They reject a "pro-homosexual" interpretation of a scholar named Boswell on the grounds that his evidence for the evaluation of the terms rests on post-1st century AD sources. Now, this is a valid criticism, as we cannot retroactively determine the semantic range of a word by subsequent developements. But again, a paragraph earlier they make the case for their definitions by appealing to Aristotle's usage of arsenokotai and malakoi, yet Aristotle was at least 350+ years prior to the writing of the Pauline corpus: this was significantly before the continued emergence of koine greek's multi-culteral defatigation of the dialectical complexities of attic greek. Even more ancient, they appeal to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, who used the terms in the 7th century BC! Now, I'm not necessarily disagreeing with their conclusions, but they make no mention whatsoever of potential difficulties of proving the stability of these words over the course of time into the period of Paul's letters. The Feinberg's seem uncritically reliant upon the stability of their definition, which requires us to leap over 800 years of history, while questioning (and rejecting) other opposing conclusions because the evolution of the word altered a mere one hundred years after Paul wrote.

Even more radical is the ghastly conclusion they draw at the end of the Homosexuality chapter as they turn to the question of AIDS: " AIDS God's judgement on those who are guilty of committing homosexual acts? We think it is. This does not make many people happy, but it seems the proper conclusion fro scriptural teaching. Scripture clearly shows that homosexual behavior is sinful. And since AIDS is transmitted through homosexual acts, it is hard to escape the conclusion that AIDS is recompense for that sin." (p.204) WOW. To be fair, they were writing in the early 90's when scientific data still strongly linked AIDS and homosexuality (at one point, AIDS was intially called GRIDD, or gay-related-immuno-difficiency-disorder) which have since then been wholly discredited. AIDS is transmitted through blood-contact and sexual contact, regardless of homo or heterosexual expression, and as such it is quite deplorable that homosexuals should be singles out in this way. If the Feinbergs have not written a retraction, or at the very least an apology and a revision, they have lamentably lost a lot of ground for a loving and intellectually sound Christianity.

Further, despite the enormity of information on the chapters given, their is a surprising lack of other material here. Though most of the big topics are covered, smaller ones, such as: Christians and alchohol (i.e. is it ok to drink?) piercings and tatoos, worship (is it ok to use instruments?)gambling, yes, no? etc... though these are undoubtedly small issues that, at least to me, are fairly straightforward exegetically, they nonetheless are major hangups for some people. I would have appreciated them being addressed. And, more importantly in their first chapter where they go over various ethical systems(deontological, teleological, utilitarian, unqualified absolutism, etc...) the Feinbergs wholly ignore virtue ethics (a major oversight). This can't be blamed on the time the book was written either, as Stanley Hauerwas had written a book on them in the early eighties (not to mention they find their origin in PLato and Aristotle!) This was one of the most dissapointing aspects of the book for me. Another area missing was any extended discussion on ecological concerns and the related ethical dilemmas (sorely lacking from most evangelical books, Im afraid)

Overall, then, Im afraid I can't recommend this book except as a supplement. If you are looking for a good, intellectually rigorous excersize in ethics, look elsewhere.
thourough  Aug 28, 2005
i purchased this book for an ethics class and was pleasantly surprised at the great length the authors go to to exact their view. they have an uncanny, though often monotonous way of covering all bases of any given subject and taking great pains to secure a christian world view on every subject covered, such as abortion, corporal punishment and war. if only one book is on your mind concerning ethics,this exhaustive edition should make it's way into your library .
life is too short to read bad books  Nov 23, 2004
If you find yourself reading a poorly written book (like this one), find something else to read. If the ideas are good, then someone else said it some place else.... and the odds are that they said it better.

And I didn't find much of their argumentation particularly persuasive either. They got two stars, since there is a quite a bit of information in the book. They get that extra star for effort.
Ethics for a Brave New World  Sep 6, 2001
This volume by the Feinbergs, is a fair and even handed treatment of several very important and contreversial topics. As a pastor of a rural church in northcentral Kansas, I am limited in my ability to do in depth theological research. This volume is a wealth of information to inform and enlighten ones understanding on the ethical issues facing our current day. I have read and used it often.

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