While some of us still struggle with the idea that ethics applies equally to everyone—rich and poor, young and old, fellow citizen and foreigner—others are beginning to look beyond the borders of the human species itself. The aim is to decide a question for yourself: to take a stand, to settle the question, for now at least, for you. Here some caution is wise. I love the approach of this book. On compromise, a helpful philosophical treatment is Martin Benjamin's Splitting the Difference (University Press of Kansas, 1990). This is dogmatism. Meanwhile, neither you nor I wants to live in such a violent society, and I think if you really mean it about "people killing people," you'd be right there with me supporting the kinds of measures that might actually reduce violence. Most, though not all, answer yes— in some sense. You may have to do some research to get it right. My friends missed an obvious and simple alternative because they were preoccupied with better ways to haul wood through the house. Limits and Exceptions Granting that there is something right about most sides of most debates, is this true of all sides in all debates? CREATIVE PROBLEM-SOLVING IN ETHICS 45 What alternatives might there be for a convicted murderer, for instance, besides capital punishment or life in prison? The book also presents ethics as an ongoing learning experience, helping students to deal with both the complexities of their individual lives and with the larger issues that exist in the world around them. CREATIVE PROBLEM-SOLVING IN ETHICS 35 Understanding "set" helps us appreciate some of the more unusual methods for expanding our options.To break "set" we need to loosen up, try something new, maybe even something that seems peculiar, embarrassing, or improbable. Here you want to draw specifically on your creative skills. Go to the dictionary, or to any book for that matter. Practical Companion to Ethics, Third Edition, is a concise and accessible introduction to the basic attitudes and skills that make ethics work, like thinking for oneself, creative and integrative problem-solving, and keeping an open mind. Maybe the drug is not worth taking even if the sick woman could get it free. But there is more to it than this. Why? I believe that there may now be much more in it. Not enough! Even something as simple as recycling, for example, did not cross people's minds for generations, but it will surely be part of any sustainable earth ethic in the future. We can't all live forever! Whose side are you on? And if you know someone is going to discount you because you're black or female, a little extra nudge just makes things equal again. But we are learning—or remembering— another and truer story. Likewise, if our country joins a war effort or bans genetically modified foods or legalizes assisted suicide, all of us are to some degree affected. Is "restorative justice"—reconciliation rather than retribution— possible? Challenge yourself to figure out ten, or twenty, new and different uses for some everyday object, like a brick. Walker, for instance, is not outlining her reasoning or considering counterarguments or doing all of the other things she'd need to do to nail down a "position." One student wrote after her first visit: All of my insecurities were running through my head as I approached the door and had to be let in by one of the guests. One good place to start is Peggy Morgan and Clive Lawton, Ethical Issues in Six Religious Traditions (Edinburgh University Press, 1996). On the other hand, sometimes there are people whose pain is so intense and unavoidable that it seems hard to deny that death can be a considered and humane choice.Your heart goes out to them, and I for one know that in their situation I might well wish the same thing. Sometimes the challenge is to find room in some problem that until now has seemed totally stuck. "There was a new look in his eyes. Many parents are desperate for good-quality child care, for a setting in which children can be cared for and can learn and grow into the larger community in richer ways than they might at home. Why not bring the very young and the very CREATIVE PROBLEM-SOLVING IN ETHICS 43 PROBLEM-SOLVING STRATEGIES AT A GLANCE To expand your options: • Ask around • Brainstorm (i.e., in a group, generate a set number of ideas without criticism) • Use random or free association • Seek the "intermediate impossible" To reframe your problem: • Think preventively (are there ways to keep the problem from even coming up in the future?) And it therefore becomes hard to take the story, whatever exactly it condemns or doesn't condemn, as the moral last word. But in that case Heinz could argue that a spectacular cure would be the best promotion of all. Compare Genesis 4:1: "And Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain...." Compelling readings are Nelson Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom (Back Bay Books, 1995), and Michael Battle's Rec- onciliation: the Ubuntu Theology of Desmond Tutu (Pilgrim Press, 1997). Do homeless people tend to be drug addicts (or is it that drug addicts tend to be homeless)? Sometimes it's hard to recognize an offhand self-justification when it is right in front of our eyes. Maybe this year the beach, next year the mountains. If you wish to defend abortion, what you probably wish to defend is keeping abortion legal under certain circumstances. It may just be that many moral situations are so complex that many different but equally good responses are possible. 3. The term "subjectivism," however, tends to have many different and even incompatible meanings, often depending on whether or not the person using the term agrees with the view being described. Now consider yourself. Normally we can do much better than that.When compatible values are dovetailed, or when we work from common ground, we're not just "splitting the difference."