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Archive for the 'Featured Book' Category

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Book Giveaway! Terrorism in Cyberspace: The Next Generation

Terrorism in Cyberspace

Terrorism in Cyberspace represents the next step in its author’s decades-long quest to map, analyze, and understand the evolution of terrorist communications since the advent of the Internet and this new form of mass communication.” — From the foreword by Bruce Hoffman

This week our featured book is Terrorism in Cyberspace: The Next Generation, by Gabriel Weimann, with a foreword by Bruce Hoffman. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its authors on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

We are also offering a FREE copy of Terrorism in Cyberspace. To enter our book giveaway, simply fill out the form below with your name and preferred mailing address. We will randomly select our winners on Friday, August 7th at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word!

Friday, July 24th, 2015

On Grief: Poems by Alexandra Butler, author of “Walking the Night Road”

Walking the Night Road

This week our featured book is Walking the Night Road: Coming of Age in Grief, by Alexandra Butler. While Butler has written a wonderful and moving memoir in Walking the Night Road, she is also a published poet, who has written many poems addressing the same stories and themes as Walking the Night Road. In today’s post, the final in our week’s feature of her book, we are happy to present a list of Butler’s poems curated by their author, with short introductions to each poem to help put them into the context of her memoir.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Walking the Night Road!

The author’s memories of her childhood become distorted by grief. Author expresses rage about the promises her beloved mother made to her as a child and could not keep. The promises of Mortals.

Fair Game
o happy childhood
for I did not know
that all my life approached
that old sit down that had been had
so many times
so many beasts in that same brine

how could she ever think
that this cup would not be mine

what we had
what did we have
as transparent now as air
as easy and as casual and as
natural as a yawn
as every day as anything
I found her there but gone
my hand felt for my heart
as if to turn the thing back on

that which she had wiped away
with a mother’s furtive hand
had written its name back
on every surface everywhere
leaning forward through the walls
its halos of fiery hair
its red breath melting the paint
that went rolling down like peels
royal purple at its heels

how easy it had been for it to hide
heartless so no worry
of a beating from inside
while I slept it had swept in
calmly to prepare its feast
sitting down at what had always been its place
at the head of our family table
in the centre of our safe and sacred house

I awoke to find my mother there
smoking at the window
a bright green apple
shoved deep inside her mouth

just like that
she’d been made gone

in what
as a child I had reduced
to a simple ray of light
did I not see the storm within
of countless particles in flight
ditto did I not see in her
the simple beast
she always was despite
elaborate fantasies

an animal—a jungle—and a reign
a wild one who had managed
to convince me she was tame
and that she and I were chosen
two of life’s beloved pets
instead of just two more
among the countless hunted game (more…)

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Memories of Robert Butler

Walking the Night Road

“I uncovered memories that would become well worn over that year. I thought about his sunniness, how he could be merry on the surface even when he was suffering. I remembered rituals I had not always perceived as rituals, the fact that he would sit me on the sink when I was small so I could help him shave.” — Alexandra Butler

This week our featured book is Walking the Night Road: Coming of Age in Grief, by Alexandra Butler. In today’s post, we have a brief excerpt from Walking the Night Road in which Butler looks back at her memories of her father, gerontologist Robert N. Butler.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Walking the Night Road!

With my father’s death I felt as if I’d lost her again. The first year, they were these two wraiths standing before me and blocking my view almost to the point of blindness. I imagined—I dreamed—whatever it was I spent all that year doing—my mother as transparent, my father as opaque. She had let a great deal of her connection to me go. He could not. Or maybe it was I who could not. I felt we were one another’s captives. We had found our love too late. And lost it too soon. At first it had seemed right to imagine her as free, and imagine my father as regretful. Yet the more I stared into the memory of them, the more their identities started to unravel.

He still had the presence of a house cat, curled up on every chair. I felt certain he had been his truest self the last years of his life. And that made me long for the years that I had missed of being close to him. Years where he could have influenced me, influenced who I would become. (more…)

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

The Surgery

Walking the Night Road

“My dad kept turning his head away to cry. I guess he didn’t want to scare my mother, but I cried outright, even when the surgical team glared and shook their heads. I cried as hard as I could. No one here was stupid. We all knew what was at stake. And then when she was still awake, still whispering kind words to us, we had to leave her there, alone.” — Alexandra Butler

This week our featured book is Walking the Night Road: Coming of Age in Grief, by Alexandra Butler. In today’s post, we have a brief excerpt from Butler’s account of her mother’s surgery in Walking the Night Road.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Walking the Night Road!

Mom’s surgery was to take place on the fifteenth floor of the hospital, but for some reason I remember it taking place in the basement. For some reason, I thought we left her in the basement that day, in the cellar. The cellar, I remember thinking. The words ran laps around my mind. The cellar. The morning of her surgery, I woke up and threw up.

They had wrapped her head the night before in white gauze right over her hair. She looked like a ghastly vision of a bride. It made no sense. Apparently they didn’t need to shave her head completely. They would just cut and pull the scalp back—hair and all. And hair and all joined the cellar in running laps.

The night before her surgery was rough. She was stoned. She was swearing and itching and writhing in her bed. She spoke in her sleep about violent things, about killing and you shut up and you can go to hell. I trembled in the corner on my cot, a little girl. She doesn’t mean it repeating in my head. My sister Chris slept upright in a chair. Every so often she would whisper soothing words. My mother told Chris that she could go and fuck herself, and in my pulse pounded the words this is not my mother.

The next morning, it seemed that she remembered nothing of the night before. We took turns climbing into bed with her. It felt Catholic, like we were climbing into the confessional. There was whispering between my mother and us all. It was like a benediction, as if she were blessing us, each and every one while we paid our last respects. She would hold your face in her hands and tell you how sorry she was. I remember my sister Cindy sitting on my mother’s bed. Her hair was coming out of her ponytail. She was hunched over my mother, and she looked twenty years younger than she really was. Cindy had lost a little brother when she was only four. (more…)

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Coming of Age in Grief

Walking the Night Road

“When you count back, you can see a story from the end. I like that—the seemingly natural narrative that forms this way. With the end in my hand, the story becomes mine. I can have it all make sense, or I can lose my mind like she lost hers—like I lost her. But I can have my story.” — Alexandra Butler

This week our featured book is Walking the Night Road: Coming of Age in Grief, by Alexandra Butler. In today’s feature post, we’ve excerpted a section from the opening of Walking the Night Road, in which Butler introduces her mother, and begins to tell the painful story that drives the memoir.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Walking the Night Road!

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Experts on Aging, Dying as They Lived

Walking the Night Road

“To the small extent that we have any choice in this uncertain life, it is wise to face your own death. In a world where so many of our fellow human beings live with threats of terror and destruction, if you are lucky enough to imagine you might have any measure of control over how you die, that is a privilege that should not go to waste.” — Alexandra Butler

This week our featured book is Walking the Night Road: Coming of Age in Grief, by Alexandra Butler. To start off the week’s feature today, we are happy to present an article by Alexandra Butler that originally appeared in The New York Times Opinionator blog, The End. In “Experts on Aging, Dying as They Lived,” Butler tells the story of Walking the Night Road in brief.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Walking the Night Road!

Experts on Aging, Dying as They Lived
By Alexandra Butler

At 10 years old I knew my parents did not wish to be resuscitated nor plugged into machines in the event of serious illness. They told me they were not afraid of death but rather of being kept alive at any cost. I knew they would refuse medical interventions, if they felt there was no purpose except to separate the dying from their deaths. They were wary of doctors who my parents said were trained by a medical culture that had lost touch with what should be its major focus: ending suffering.

My father, Robert N. Butler, was a physician, a psychiatrist and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who pioneered the field of aging. My mother, Myrna Lewis, had a Ph.D. in social work; her specialty was older women. Together they co-wrote books on aging, mental health, sexuality and public policy. They would have been tickled by the coverage a few months ago of the Iowa state representative Ross Paustian, a Republican, nose-deep in their book “Sex After Sixty” in the middle of a House debate over the collective bargaining rights of teachers.

My parents applied what they learned out in the field to their personal lives. They worked hard to put as much money toward their retirement and old age as they could so that my half-sisters and I would never be financially responsible for them. They told us where we could find copies of their wills and health directives, explaining that these documents clarified their wishes and we would not have to bear the full weight of making end-of-life decisions for them.

As a teenager I hated these discussions. I probably told them to stop torturing me and to stop being so morbid. They were reassuring me about scenarios that I did not want to think about. I could not have known how grateful I would be now. (more…)

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Book Giveaway! Walking the Night Road: Coming of Age in Grief, by Alexandra Butler

Walking the Night Road

“An honest look at marriage, aging, happiness, and survival — both wise and funny. You will walk the Night Road too.” — Barbara Walters

This week our featured book is Walking the Night Road: Coming of Age in Grief, by Alexandra Butler. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its authors on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

We are also offering a FREE copy of Walking the Night Road. To enter our book giveaway, simply fill out the form below with your name and preferred mailing address. We will randomly select our winners on Friday, July 24th at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word!

Friday, July 17th, 2015

Reviews of “The Hillary Doctrine”

The Hillary Doctrine

“Decades of research reveal that the subjugation of women is directly linked with state and non-state armed violence. When women are left out of peace building—as in Iraq, Afghanistan and South Sudan—the likelihood of a country sliding back into armed violence increases dramatically.” — Valerie M. Hudson and Patricia Leidl

This week our featured book is The Hillary Doctrine: Sex and American Foreign Policy, by Valerie M. Hudson and Patricia Leidl, with a foreword by Swanee Hunt. In this final post of the week’s feature, we are happy to present a roundup of some of the glowing praise that Hudson and Leidl’s book has received.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Hillary Doctrine!

From a review by Micah Zenko that originally ran on the Council for Foreign Relations blog and was subsequently picked up by both Quartz and Newsweek:

During her confirmation hearing to become secretary of state, Hillary Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in no uncertain terms, “I want to pledge to you that as secretary of state I view [women’s] issues as central to our foreign policy, not as adjunct or auxiliary or in any way lesser than all of the other issues that we have to confront.” A thoughtful and nuanced new book by Valerie M. Hudson and Patricia Leidl, The Hillary Doctrine: Sex & American Foreign Policy, evaluates to what extent Secretary Clinton has fulfilled this pledge.

Unsurprisingly, they find many examples where Clinton’s rhetoric does not meet U.S. foreign policy reality. Rather than simply denounce the former secretary of state for this, they try to understand what explains this reoccurring disconnect. For example, the authors contend that a component of Clinton’s hawkish support for intervening in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya was the belief that women’s lives would be markedly improved. Hudson and Leidl disagree, noting, “Military action in and of itself against regimes violating human rights will not protect women. If anything, it unleashes new and usually even more vicious male-bonded groups intent on stripping them of even the most basic human rights.” It is this sort of refreshing analysis that makes this book so important, and one that I highly recommend to anybody interested in elevating women’s voices in world affairs, as well as the practicalities of day-to-day U.S. foreign policymaking.

(more…)

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Women’s Rights Around the World

The Hillary Doctrine

“Decades of research reveal that the subjugation of women is directly linked with state and non-state armed violence. When women are left out of peace building—as in Iraq, Afghanistan and South Sudan—the likelihood of a country sliding back into armed violence increases dramatically.” — Valerie M. Hudson and Patricia Leidl

This week our featured book is The Hillary Doctrine: Sex and American Foreign Policy, by Valerie M. Hudson and Patricia Leidl, with a foreword by Swanee Hunt. In this post, we have excerpted parts from two pieces that have recently appeared in the World Politics Review: first, an interview with Patricia Leidl about government responses to crime against women in Latin America; and second, an article by Leidl and Valerie M. Hudson on the status of women’s rights in Yemen.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Hillary Doctrine!

Latin America: “Latin America’s Uneven Response to Growing Violence Against Women”
An interview with Patricia Leidl

WPR: What has prompted the recent public outcry against violence against women in Latin America?

Patricia Leidl: The “recent” outcry over violence against Latin American women is in fact not recent at all. Since the early 1990s, human and women’s rights defenders have been raising the alarm over steadily climbing rates of gender-based violence in Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, with the sharpest increases beginning in 2006 and escalating by as much as 21 percent each year. In South America, human rights observatories have likewise reported steadily rising rates of violence against women—but most particularly in Brazil, Bolivia and Colombia. According to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, of the 25 countries that are home to the highest femicide rates in the world, more than half are located in Latin America.

It is perhaps no coincidence that many of these Latin American countries were embroiled in the “dirty wars” of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. These wars were characterized by the proliferation of small arms and extreme and systematic violence against women, which many scholars now believe set the stage for today’s epidemic of femicide. Human rights activists also speculate that women’s greater economic independence—in the form of low-paying and unskilled factory jobs in the wake of free trade agreements with North America, Asia and Europe—could be contributing to a climate of violence against women in a region whose culture of “machismo” traditionally relegates women to the domestic sphere. (more…)

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Watch the book launch discussion of “The Hillary Doctrine”

The Hillary Doctrine

“Women are not the canaries in the coal mine [telling us that something is wrong in a society]. The state of male-female relations within a society is the coal mine. The explosive instability that results within in a society is actually the canary that’s telling us something is wrong in the coal mine.” — Valerie M. Hudson and Patricia Leidl

This week our featured book is The Hillary Doctrine: Sex and American Foreign Policy, by Valerie M. Hudson and Patricia Leidl, with a foreword by Swanee Hunt. Today, we are happy to present a video from Hudson and Leidl’s book launch, which involves a presentation by Hudson and Leidl, and then a roundtable discussion with prominent scholars and policymakers Rosa Brooks, Kathleen Kuehnast, and Daniela Ligiero.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Hillary Doctrine!

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

No Matter Who’s Elected, We Need the Hillary Doctrine

The Hillary Doctrine

“If Realpolitik implies being “realistic” about the world in which we live, then the Hillary Doctrine is potentially one of most transformative policy changes this nation has ever seen, capable of rendering our foreign policy far more effective than it has been to date.” — Valerie M. Hudson and Patricia Leidl

This week our featured book is The Hillary Doctrine: Sex and American Foreign Policy, by Valerie M. Hudson and Patricia Leidl, with a foreword by Swanee Hunt. Today, we have an article by Hudson and Leidl arguing that regardless of who wins the 2016 presidential election, U.S. policymakers should take the Hillary Doctrine seriously.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Hillary Doctrine!

No Matter Who’s Elected, We Need the Hillary Doctrine
By Valerie M. Hudson and Patricia Leidl

President Barack Obama must be feeling a sense of relief: after being stymied by Congress at every turn, he can now exit the presidency with two major political triumphs to his credit courtesy of the Supreme Court—Obamacare and the legalization of gay marriage.

For even as the champagne bottles pop and long-time same-sex companions rush to tie the knot, the female half of the human population has a good reason to be less than sanguine about the Obama administration’s performance. Although the outgoing president can be credited with a number of high-level female appointments—Janet Yellen and Sonia Sotomayor to name but two—and has fought for the Paycheck Fairness Act and signed the Lily Ledbetter Act, there is one area where his administration has notably lagged: women and foreign policy.

Far from taking a strong stand to affirm the UN resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, the administration has been worse than anemic with regard to ensuring that women in Afghanistan, Yemen, South Sudan and other fragile states take part in negotiations where their participation could mean the difference between war and peace, poverty and prosperity.

And while Obama was quick to condemn Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin on his stance on gay rights, he was completely mute on Putin’s tolerance of open, coerced polygyny and harshly enforced female dress code in Chechnya. So why the disconnect? Are not the rights of one half the population as worth fighting for as those of same-sex couples? (more…)

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Has Hillary Really Helped the World’s Women?

The Hillary Doctrine

“On the one hand, the doctrine that Clinton made a central part of her time at Foggy Bottom was revolutionary; never before had the cause of women been elevated to a priority of American foreign policy and labeled a key national security concern. But talking the talk is not the same as walking the walk, and as Clinton prepares for a presidential candidacy in which she will likely tout both her tenure at State and her potentially history-making role as America’s first woman president, it is only natural to examine whether the “Hillary Doctrine” really worked.” — Valerie M. Hudson and Patricia Leidl

This week our featured book is The Hillary Doctrine: Sex and American Foreign Policy, by Valerie M. Hudson and Patricia Leidl, with a foreword by Swanee Hunt. Today, we are happy to present an excerpt from The Hillary Doctrine that originally ran in Politico Magazine.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Hillary Doctrine!

Has Hillary Really Helped the World’s Women?
By Valerie M. Hudson and Patricia Leidl

Many leaders have had doctrines named after them—from the Monroe Doctrine to the Truman Doctrine to the Bush Doctrine—but so far there’s only that can be ascribed to a woman: the Hillary Doctrine. As Hillary Clinton herself defined it, “the subjugation of women [is] a threat to the common security of our world and to the national security of our country.”

But for proponents of this doctrine, perhaps no irony was crueler than seeing its namesake, then Secretary of State Clinton, smiling broadly in her trademark pantsuit as she walked the red carpet from her plane in Riyadh with the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, in 2010. The moment brought to mind an incongruity no less extreme than if Frederick Douglass had been appointed ambassador to the Confederacy and found himself sipping tea and making small talk with Nathan Bedford Forrest. For, in Saudi Arabia, the subordination of women is as peculiar and pernicious an institution as was slavery in the antebellum South.

It wasn’t the last time Hillary Clinton was accused of brushing aside her own self-declared commitment to women’s rights, ostensibly in the name of the national interest. Most recently, as she prepares to launch her all-but-declared presidential campaign, reports have emerged concerning large donations to her family’s foundation from countries including Algeria, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and, of course, Saudi Arabia—a rogues’ gallery of governments with poor records on women’s issues. How could Clinton—she of “women’s rights are human rights” fame, who by all indications will soon try again to break the “highest, hardest glass ceiling” of the White House—still be so cozy with a regime so at odds with one of her core, lifelong causes? (more…)

Monday, July 13th, 2015

How Sex Came to Matter in U.S. Foreign Policy

The Hillary Doctrine

“Many regard international affairs as primarily a male realm, a subject that speaks principally to men about political, economic, and strategic interests largely defined by a male perspective…. [V]iolence against women and girls—and how it relates to national and international security—continues to be hidden in plain sight to this day.” — Valerie M. Hudson and Patricia Leidl

This week our featured book is The Hillary Doctrine: Sex and American Foreign Policy, by Valerie M. Hudson and Patricia Leidl, with a foreword by Swanee Hunt. In this post, we have an excerpt from “How Sex Came to matter in U.S. Foreign Policy,” the first chapter of Hudson and Leidl’s book.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Hillary Doctrine!

Monday, July 13th, 2015

Book Giveaway! The Hillary Doctrine: Sex and American Foreign Policy

The Hillary Doctrine

“From now on, no debate about national or global policy can proceed without reading The Hillary Doctrine by Valerie Hudson and Patricia Leidl. It is the first book about high level efforts to create a foreign policy as if women mattered.” — Gloria Steinem

This week our featured book is The Hillary Doctrine: Sex and American Foreign Policy, by Valerie M. Hudson and Patricia Leidl, with a foreword by Swanee Hunt. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its authors on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

We are also offering a FREE copy of The Hillary Doctrine. To enter our book giveaway, simply fill out the form below with your name and preferred mailing address. We will randomly select our winners on Friday, July 17th at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word!

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Be Good and Enjoy

Happiness and Goodness

“Whether one decides, in essence, to be a beaver like Pat or a bear like Lee is a personal choice. After all, a life devoted to simple pursuits may yield as much satisfaction as one given to complex undertakings. That insight doesn’t imply that arduous tasks are to be avoided, only that those who engage in them may not live better than those who don’t.” — Steven Cahn and Christine Vitrano

This week our featured book is Happiness and Goodness: Philosophical Reflections on Living Well, by Steven M. Cahn and Christine Vitrano, with a foreword by Robert B. Talisse. In this final post of the week’s feature, we have an excerpt from the concluding chapter of the book, “Concluding Questions.”

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for Happiness and Goodness!

Be Good and Enjoy

Let us now return to the two fictional cases with which our discussion began: Pat and Lee. Pat, you may recall, is a successful philosopher who is happily married and enjoys playing bridge and the cello. Lee did not attend college, is single and financially independent, makes philanthropic gifts, and enjoys sunbathing, swimming, and surfing, along with freely spending money on a variety of luxurious items, including homes, cars, and golfing holidays. Both treat others with respect and are satisfied with their lives.

Here are the questions we asked about Pat and Lee: Are both living well? Are both pursuing equally successful lives? Is either life wasted? We can answer now that both are living well, both are finding equal success in living, and the life of neither is wasted. We might admire one more than the other, but such a judgment would reflect our own preferences or purposes and not serve as an appropriate basis for determining whose life is well-lived.

We recognize, however, that others may not agree with us. Hence we shall raise and respond to their most likely questions.

First, do we claim that Pat and Lee are contributing equally to the welfare of society? No. Pat’s teaching, research, and service are unmatched by any activity of Lee, although Lee’s contributing money for worthy causes should be applauded. Thus if the question to be answered is which of the two is a more valuable member of society, the probable answer is Pat. The question, however, is not whose life is more useful to others but whose life is going better, viewing happiness from the perspective of the person being assessed. Because both individuals are acting morally and finding satisfaction, both lives are going well. (more…)

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Religion and Morality

Happiness and Goodness

“The lesson here is that might does not make right, even if the might is the infinite might of God. To act morally is not to act out of fear of punishment, nor to act as one is commanded. Rather, it is to act as one ought to act, and how one ought to act is not dependent on anyone’s power, even if the power be divine.” — Steven Cahn and Christine Vitrano

This week our featured book is Happiness and Goodness: Philosophical Reflections on Living Well, by Steven M. Cahn and Christine Vitrano, with a foreword by Robert B. Talisse. In today’s post, we have excerpted two chapters from Happiness and Goodness: “God and Morality” and “Heaven and Hell.”

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for Happiness and Goodness!

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Robert Talisse’s Foreword to “Happiness and Goodness”

Happiness and Goodness

“[Cahn and Vitrano's] critical maneuvers often cut deeply, and their positive view is a formidable one. Their central thesis can be put succinctly: Morality is not necessary for happiness. The immoral person might be a completely happy person, and the moral saint might nonetheless be absolutely miserable.” — Robert Talisse

This week our featured book is Happiness and Goodness: Philosophical Reflections on Living Well, by Steven M. Cahn and Christine Vitrano, with a foreword by Robert B. Talisse. In today’s post, we have excerpted Talisse’s foreword, in which he discusses the value of Cahn and Vitrano’s project, and engages with the literature of happiness and morality.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for Happiness and Goodness!

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Wasted Lives?

Happiness and Goodness

“[Most philosophers] maintain that certain activities are more worthy than others, so lives spent engaged in those more worthy activities are more worthy lives. But which activities have more worth and which less? And on what bases should we decide such matters?” — Steven Cahn and Christine Vitrano

This week our featured book is Happiness and Goodness: Philosophical Reflections on Living Well, by Steven M. Cahn and Christine Vitrano, with a foreword by Robert B. Talisse. In today’s post, we have an excerpt from the second chapter of the book, “Wasted Lives.”

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for Happiness and Goodness!

Wasted Lives

In [Ronald] Dworkin’s posthumously published Religion Without God, he argues that an atheist can be religious. While this claim would come as no surprise to adherents of Jainism, Theravada Buddhism, or Mimamsa Hinduism, he has in mind not these Asian religious traditions but a viewpoint common to many Western thinkers who deny theism yet recognize “nature’s intrinsic beauty” and the “inescapable responsibility” of people to “live their lives well.” Dworkin considers such an outlook religious.

Leaving aside his curious line of thought that finds support for religious belief in such disparate phenomena as the Grand Canyon, prowling jaguars, and the discovery by physicists of the Higgs boson, let us concentrate on his view that we should all seek to live well so as to achieve “successful” lives and avoid “wasted” ones.

Does one model fit all? On this important point Dworkin wavers. He maintains that “there is, independently and objectively, a right way to live.” Yet he also recognizes “a responsibility of each person to decide for himself ethical questions about which kinds of lives are appropriate and which would be degrading for him.”

What sort of life did Dworkin himself find degrading? We are not told but suspect that for such a successful academic, a “degrading life” might have been one without intellectual striving, just as a famed athlete might find degrading life as a couch potato.

But of all possible lives, which are well-lived? To help answer this question, consider the following two fictional, though realistic, cases. (more…)

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Book Giveaway! Happiness and Goodness: Philosophical Reflections on Living Well

Happiness and Goodness

“I can’t remember the last time I read a book about ethics that was so fascinating.” — Ed Lake, Deputy Editor, Aeon

This week our featured book is Happiness and Goodness: Philosophical Reflections on Living Well, by Steven M. Cahn and Christine Vitrano, with a foreword by Robert B. Talisse. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

We are also offering a FREE copy of Happiness and Goodness. To enter our book giveaway, simply fill out the form below with your name and preferred mailing address. We will randomly select our winners on Friday, June 26th at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word!

Friday, June 12th, 2015

The Personal Mystery and the Impersonal God

Excellent Beauty

This week our featured book is Excellent Beauty: The Naturalness of Religion and the Unnaturalness of the World, by Eric Dietrich. In the final post of the week’s feature, we have excerpted the twelfth chapter of Excellent Beauty: “The Personal Mystery and the Impersonal God.”

Don’t forget to enter to win a free copy of the book in our book giveaway!