Recommendations for books/programs that weigh social issues
January 14, 2014 7:19 PM   Subscribe

I like books that take divisive issues and present both sides of the argument. For example, "Social Ethics: Morality and Social Policy," and the debates hosted by NPR's Intelligence Squared U.S. (link). Can you recommend other books or audio like this?
posted by saperlipopette to Society & Culture (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
this is a review by Louis Menand of a book that weighs two of the most salient social issues of our time: equality vs community. I think if you read this review, as I did when it was first published, you will be impelled to read the book it discusses.

Spoiler alert --

Equality -- MLK and desegregation
Community -- Malcolm X and separatism
posted by janey47 at 8:52 PM on January 14, 2014

If web sites might be of interest as well, there's the Oxford Debates series and a regular debate feature at The Economist.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:01 PM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have you read On Liberty? One of the things that's amazing about it is that for each issue, the first thing Mill does is to present the best case he can for the viewpoint he opposes. Then he presents his own case.

When I read it, each time he finished describing an opposing case, I didn't see how he could possibly defeat it. Then reading his own opinion, he proceeded to utterly shred the other point of view.

It's an amazing tour-de-force.

It's also in the public domain.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:05 PM on January 14, 2014

Check out some of the "Four Views" series.

Edit: they're books.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 1:08 AM on January 15, 2014

Check out Oxford's "What Everyone Needs to Know" series of books. "Written by leading authorities in their given fields, each volume ... offers a balanced and authoritative primer on complex current event issues and countries."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 6:23 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I know my university library was well-stocked with all the volumes from the Opposing Viewpoints series, put out by textbook publisher Greenhaven Press (Gage/Cengage Learning). Most haven’t been updated in a decade, but they seemed to give voice to all sides of the controversies at stake. Find a title list here.

professor plum with a rope mentioned the “Four Views” series…I think he’s referring to the Counterpoints: Bible and Theology series put out by Evangelical/Christian publisher Zondervan. Don’t let the denominational/tradition adjective scare you away; books in these series deal with all the major “issues” in contemporary Protestant Christianity and let all sides of the debate have their say, however heretical the conservatives think they may be. Each contributing author gets to state their case and at the end of each chapter are follow-up rebuttals or responses from the other three or four authors.
posted by huxham at 3:58 PM on January 21, 2014

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