"While no one would confuse it for light reading, May’s style is conversational, frequently funny and overall, he comes across as a very, shall we say, decent guy. May’s book is not prescriptive but is actually something better: a meditation on how striving for decency is a route towards personal satisfaction and happiness, even in a world that may seem to disadvantage the decent. . . . The book acknowledges the complexity of human beings and the world at large and offers a way of thinking about those complexities without falling into the dreaded trap of 'moral relativism.' Put simply, I am a better person for having read this book."
— John Warner
"Most of us are not 'moral monsters,' argues May; nor do we 'strive to be moral saints.' The different schools of traditional moral philosophy put the stress on intentions, consequences of 'virtue ethics,' yet none is very useful for the vast majority of people who want to be decent without aspiring to total altruism. A Decent Life
explores what this might mean in practice with regard to our relationships with family and friends; the strangers we run into; nonhuman animals; and the political sphere. It concludes with Nine Rules for Moral Decency, including 'Enjoy reading philosophy, even when it advises you to be better than you can reasonably be.'"
— Times Higher Education
"May has a knack for presenting philosophical concepts in ways that are easily graspable, and his advice for living 'a life with a goal more modest than altruism, but better than moral mediocrity' makes such a goal seem attainable for a wide audience. Anyone interested in living a more morally conscious life will want to give this wise guide a look."
— Publishers Weekly
"In the face of great injustice or radical indecency, it is tempting to give up our moral lives altogether. The challenges of being good seem impossibly daunting. Todd May has given us just a little bit of hope--a few practical suggestions for becoming just a little bit more decent. A Decent Life
is the kind of book I will give to my students--or to my daughter: a humble, down-to-earth primer for living ethically in a world that seems intent on destroying itself. May has written a more-than-decent book. It is genuinely good."
— John Kaag, author of Hiking with Nietzsche: On Becoming Who You Are
"Some philosophers have argued that morality requires us repeatedly to sacrifice our wealth and pleasure for the sake of others, including distant strangers and even animals. Recognizing that most people believe otherwise and are unwilling to live this way, Todd May offers an alternative, more realistic vision of the moral life that is neither saintly nor heroic but nonetheless decent
. In writing that is lucid and enlivened by stories drawn from his own and other people's experiences, he reveals how, by showing appropriate respect for the fact that others (including animals) have lives of their own to live, we can satisfy the demands of morality while retaining our ability to have fulfilling and meaningful lives. Particularly in its discussion of our relations with political opponents, this book is a timely, illuminating, and inspiring work of moral philosophy."
— Jeff McMahan, University of Oxford
"Moral philosophy often appears either as a very technical discipline or as a set of demands to be altruistic that few if any of us can realize. In this book, Todd May articulates the extremely appealing idea of a decent life as an alternative. He writes with the clarity of an analytical philosopher, but about existential themes that are usually addressed by continental thinkers. The book is almost completely without technical language, full of thought-provoking examples from everyday life, and it will be an edifying read for everyone who aspires to be a decent human being."
— Svend Brinkman, author of Standpoints: Ten Old Ideas in a New World