Eschewing tedious language, technical analysis, and intricate formal arguments, Nagys casebook closely resembles a combination how-to/how-not-to primer. His fictional vignettes are meant to illustrate professional behaviors that are aspirational as well as those that are to be avoided. However, in his desire to avoid using a level of language that is too literary, scientific, technical, or legalistic, Nagy, at times, dulls the point to the ethical argument that he wants to make. His vignettes do not always convey clearly the ethical concepts or standards of behavior that he wants to prescribe. For example, while discussing a potential violation of informed consent, Nagy concludes his illustrative case with the observation that the problem here is that a psychologists informality gave the appearance of a lack of objectivity and professionalism, was not conducive to good relations with employees, and increased the likelihood of employee complaints (60). Within the context of the example, all of this may indeed be the case. However, it may not be clear to the reader why these issues present an ethical dilemma, or why we ought to go beyond labels of boorish, unprofessional, or unscientific and rate such problems as unethical.
The author admits that his text is meant to be read in conjunction with both parts of the Ethics Code: the General Principles and Ethical Standards. However, he includes the second part, the original text for each standard, but omits the first, the generically broad philosophical constructs or principles. Nagys conscious exclusion of the General Principles part of the APA Ethics Code may harm his effort in some of the cases that he discusses. If Nagys aim is to help his reader get his or her psychological ethics right, then he needs always to clarify the ethical nature of the conflict and resolution. Perhaps some reference to those broader ethical notions, those underlying principles of integrity, professional and scientific responsibility, respect for persons, concern for others welfare, etc., would help the reader understand not only how but why the Ethics Codes provisions apply to each case. Furthermore, the more philosophically inclined reader might wish for some discussion or justification for the authors apparent assumption that morality or ethics is primarily about duties, about following rules or standards.
Despite a lack of philosophical depth or intensive exegesis of the APA Standards, Nagys book - and this is its strength - is lucid and highly readable. The authors sometimes-humorous cases do illustrate how psychologists are to understand, interpret, and apply the APAs principles and standards of conduct. In doing this, Nagys book lives up to its promise of stimulating awareness of every day ethical issues in psychology.
Larry Hultgren describes himself as follows:
A.B. Grinnell College majoring in Philosophy and Religion; Ph.D. Vanderbilt University in Philosophy. Currently Professor of Philosophy at Virginia Wesleyan College, Norfolk, VA. Since I am at a liberal arts college, my teaching runs the gamut of philosophy offerings. I am especially interested in interdisciplinary pursuits, and I direct the college's Social Ecology Program and our innovative PORTfolio Project which attempts to bring the liberal arts to life for our students by connecting the classroom with real world experiences. I also serve on the Bioethics Committee of the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk, VA, and serve on the Board of Directors of the Bioethics Network of Southeast Virginia.