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January 2015 Vol. 52 No. 5

Fortress Press/Augsburg Fortress

The following review appeared in the January 2015 issue of CHOICE. The review is for your internal use only. Please review our Permission and Reprints Guidelines or email


Steffen, Lloyd. The ethics of death, by Lloyd Steffen and Dennis R. Cooley. Fortress, 2014. 325p indexes afp ISBN 9780800699192 pbk, $34.00; ISBN 9781451487572 ebook, contact publisher for price.

In this excellent book on the ethics of death, Steffen (Lehigh Univ.) and Cooley (North Dakota State Univ.) cover, succinctly and well, both the major aspects of ethical thinking and the central major ethical theories.  The volume offers a unique natural law approach that begins by seeking to articulate a common agreement on an issue.  For instance, for the death penalty, the authors note that "states ought ordinarily not kill their citizens" and then proceed to analyze the issue ethically from various perspectives.  The authors cover the major "death" issues—abortion, the death penalty, war, suicide, physician-assisted suicide, and euthanasia.  For these issues, pro and con arguments are offered, and the complexities of each issue are expertly explored.  Further, the two authors—scholars in religious studies and philosophy, respectively—engage each other in a probing debate that allows each perspective to enrich the discussions.  This unique book is well worth exploring.

--J. A. Kegley, California State University, Bakersfield

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above; general readers.