Ethics In Everday Places

Now Available in Paperback



In Ethics in Everyday Places, ethicist and geographer Tom Koch considers what happens when, as he puts it, “you do everything right but know you've done something wrong." The resulting moral stress and injury, he argues, are pervasive in modern Western society. Koch makes his argument "from the ground up," from the perspective of average persons, and through a revealing series of maps in which issues of ethics and morality are embedded.

The book begins with a general grounding in both moral stress and mapping as a means of investigation. The author then examines the ethical dilemmas of mapmakers and others in the popular media and the sciences, including graphic artists, journalists, researchers, and social scientists. Koch expands from the particular to the general, from mapmaker and journalist and then statistician to the readers of maps and news and science. He explores the moral stress and injury in educational funding, poverty, and income inequality ("Why aren’t we angry that one in eight fellow citizens lives in federally certified poverty?"), transportation modeling (seen in the iconic map of the London transit system and the hidden realities of exclusion), and U.S. graft organ transplantation.

This uniquely interdisciplinary work rewrites our understanding of the nature of moral stress, distress and injury, and ethics in modern life. Written accessibly and engagingly, it transforms how we think of ethics—personal and professional—amid the often conflicting moral injunctions across modern society.


This book represents a groundbreaking and truly interdisciplinary new perspective on ethics. Koch’s work is constructed 'from the bottom up’ in the sense that it engages the grass roots questions of average citizens who ask ‘what’s right or wrong?’ The book develops a well-grounded analysis of ethics within the context of space and place through a series of engaging case studies and maps that illustrate the contribution of the mapmaker and critical social scientist to explaining moral stress and social injury. Ethics in Everyday Places is unique in engaging how we think about ethics and how we teach ethical reasoning within an expanding range of disciplines. It engages both individual and professional ethics within the context of critical social science and policy analysis. Koch provides a framework representing a vision of ‘ethics for us all.’” —Joseph M. Kaufert, Professor Emeritus, Department of Community Health Sciences, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, and University of Manitoba

“Ethics in Everyday Places argues persuasively that mapping, far from simply being a value neutral tool, is fundamentally intertwined with moral theory and practice. Drawn and analyzed wisely, maps can illuminate the ethical implications of problems ranging from tobacco use and graft organ transplantation, to poverty and its consequences, education funding, and transportation systems, among other matters. A groundbreaking and innovative book!” —Walter Wright, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Clark University

Ethics in Everyday Places is available through:

On the Web: MIT
On the Web: Amazon