Reviewed by Mary E. Latela February 27, 2016
Toward Thriving Communities: Virtue Ethics as Social Ethics by Brian Stiltner is a rich, clear, and engaging examination of how to meld Virtue Ethics and Social Ethics for the betterment of individuals and communities. Author Brian Stiltner asks and proposes solutions to some of the most challenging questions of contemporary life.
Virtue Ethics (or Virtue Theory) is an approach to Ethics that emphasizes an individual’s character as the key element of ethical thinking. People do not live in isolation, so along with personal character development and achievement, Social Ethics examines and builds the best way to live in society – beginning with family, local community, and world. In this unique, fresh look at how Virtue Ethics can work with Social Ethics to bring about Thriving Communities, Stiltner clearly applies traditional and contemporary views of individual and social engagement to mend the world.
What is a thriving community? Can the poorer sections of Bridgeport, CT, birth a thriving community? Is Farmington, CT, with its historic significance, prosperity, and isolationist tendencies, a thriving community? Stiltner deftly examines the challenges and possible remedies in each of the circles in which we live. In families, reading to children, providing them with guidelines for character-building, respectful disagreement, and the ability to compromise are possible no matter what the make-up of the household. We may not be able to choose where our family resides, but we can choose how to engage with people in our neighbors. In the schools, we can martial our efforts to train teachers well, to work with – not against – parents, to demand that funding is used appropriately, that more experienced teachers are not pushed out in favor of lower paid new teachers. Poverty may not be the key factor in thriving; instead, sharing of gifts and resources among all people builds individual and community empowerment and works to cause not simply, survival, but flourishing life.
As in other works of substance, Brian Stiltner’s thought-provoking book does not provide all the answers – the readers are invited to live with the questions, ponder and discuss, and apply principles to real-life situations. This is a must-read for those who want to take the study of ethics into daily life and make a difference in our world. Top-notch writing, thorough resources, as well as superb, clear graphics cause this textbook to shine. Discussion groups will find the material engaging and challenging.