Summary of The Power of Ethics

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The Power of Ethics book summary

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  • Comprehensive
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Ethics advisor Susan Liautaud, an ethics professor at Stanford, describes a world in which technology perilously amplifies unethical decision-making. She provides an ethical framework to help you ask the right questions when you’re facing a dilemma, and describes six forces that drive ethics beyond the edge where the law has all the answers. Employing concrete examples from tech, medicine, politics, and more, Liautaud grounds ethical dilemmas in real life. She teaches that in a fast-changing, uncertain world, well-meaning people need to understand ethics to prevent exploitation, ensure fairness and protect humanity’s future.

About the Author

Ethics advisor Susan Liautaud is founder and managing director of Susan Liautaud & Associates Limited. She teaches ethics at Stanford University, serves as Chair of Council at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and founded the nonprofit platform The Ethics Incubator. 


“Ethics on the edge” describes the place where laws no longer guide decision-making.

With technology driving massive global change at an unprecedented rate, people must make ethical decisions. Society has growing concerns not just about day-to-day ethical problems like conflicts on social media over politics, but about existential issues like climate change. In this heightened, super-charted environment, many people face grappling with ethics beyond the point where the law can guide their decision making. To understand why ethics so often fail and cause undue pain to people and the planet, consider the stories behind such failures. People need this knowledge to remedy and prevent similar lapses in the future. 

Ethics informs many of your choices, from deciding to post your opinion online, to sending in your DNA for genetic analysis, to electing political candidates. Ethics offers a deliberate, positive approach to problem-solving that provides a strong base for bouncing back when you make a mistake.

Six forces affect ethical decision-making on the edge:

  1. “Banishing the binary...

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