Sharon L. Bracci & Clifford G. Christians (eds.) (2002). Moral Engagement in Public Life: Theorists for Contemporary Ethics. (New York: Peter Lang Publishing). xii + 296 pp. ISBN 0-8204-5766-3. $32.95 (paper). Chapter notes & references, glossary, index, contributors' bios.
The key to this book is in the use of the plural word "theorists." It is intended for the serious scholar of communication and moral philosophy, and not for those who are seeking an introduction to the field. Other books (including those by Clifford Christians) do that job far better.
But, if you are looking for a volume focusing on lesser-known and often contemporary theorists in the field, this may well be it.
The dozen essays in this volume, prefaced by Josina M. Makau and with an afterward by Deni Elliott, will open new doors for those dissatisfied with the usual suspects. The contents include: "Aristotle's Ethical Theory in the Contemporary World: Logos, Phronﾈsis, and the Moral Life" (by Christopher Lyle Johnstone); "Charles Taylor's Practical Reason" (Peggy J. Bowers); "The Social Ethics of Agnes Heller" (Clifford G. Christians), "Confucian Values, Ethics, and Legacies in History" (Dong-Hyun Byun & Keehyeung Lee); "Jﾁrgen Habermas and the Search for Democratic Principles" (David S. Allen); "The Fragile Hope of Seyla Benhabib's Interactive Universalism" (Sharon L. Bracci); "Paulo Freire's Revolutionary Pedagogy: From a Story-Centered to a Narrative-Centered Communication Ethic" (Ronald C. Arnett); "The Other Ethics of Emmanuel Levinas: Communication Beyond Relativism" (Jeffrey W. Murray); "Mikhail Bakhtin's Philosophy of the Act" (Alexander Lopes de Miranda); "Race, Coherence, and Moral Knowledge: Cornel West's Rhetoric and Politics of Convergence" (Mark Lawrence McPhail); "bell hooks: Ethics from the Margins" (Angharad Valdivia); and "Foucault's Ethics" (Martha Cooper & Carole Blair).
The list of philosophers above (except, of course, for Aristotle) may contain quite a few names that are unfamiliar to many readers of this review-but probably shouldn't be. Richard Johannesen has called this collection of original essays "stimulating," Claude-Jean Bertrand refers to it as a "remarkable contribution," and Ed Lambeth labels it a "thoughtfully selected and important set of essays." I, for one, intend to read it more than once-carefully.
The above article was published in Media Ethics , Spring 2004 (15:2), p. 29.