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January 6, 1975

Right & Wrong: A Philosophical Dialogue between Father and Son

Author Affiliations

Southern Illinois University School of Medicine Springfield

JAMA. 1975;231(1):86. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03240130066039

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


The reprint of the 1967 hardbound edition, Right & Wrong, is a crisply presented dialogue in ethics. In a day when Humpty Dumpty tries to make ethics mean "what I want it to mean," it is refreshing to have the authors remind us that ethics is the systematic study of making value judgments, and is not synonymous with etiquette or statutes.

The dialogue focuses basic questions that deal with the meaning of life: "The Person and His Obligations," "The Family and Its Members," "Politics and the State," "Society," "Man and the Universe," and "Law." Not everyone will be satisfied with this book. It does not provide answers. Rather, it demonstrates the need for carefully processing basic human questions in order to distinguish between opinions and the grounds and principles on which moral judgments are made. More remarkable, it also demonstrates that fathers (the philosopher) and sons (the lawyer) have something