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  • January 5, 2012 12:00 am

    Professor Spotlight: Dr. Michael Pakaluk

    Dr. Michael Pakaluk

    Dr. Michael Pakaluk, chairman of the AMU Philosophy Department, was pretending to be upset with his publications for last year: besides half a dozen scholarly papers, “only three books of mine were published last year,” was his mock-complaint, “when I was trying to finish twelve!”

    Whatever one’s judgment on the number of books published, one can’t help being impressed by the range of interests they display.

    His first book of the year, Human Action and Moral Psychology in Aristotle, was published by Oxford University Press in the early spring. Pakaluk collaborated on the book with Giles Pearson, a philosopher at the University of Bristol and co-editor. “Giles and I met at a Mayweek Seminar in Cambridge university, hit it off, found we had similar interests and judgments, and wanted to work together on something,” Pakaluk said. “It was fun to work together. In philosophy collaboration is not as common as in other fields.”

    Pakaluk’s own essay in the volume is “Mixed Actions and Double Effect,” which attempts to see if the “Doctrine of Double Effect,” so important in Catholic moral teaching, can be traced back to roots in Aristotle, long before it was famously articulated by St. Thomas Aquinas.

    Pakaluk’s second book of the year was The Appalling Strangeness of the Mercy of God, published by Ignatius Press, the collected correspondence and writings of his late wife, Ruth. “It tells a story about heroism in ordinary life, while conveying, I think, important insights about the interior life,” Pakaluk said. The book has been widely reviewed and has won many devoted fans, including AMU Professor Michael Novak, who commented that it “towers head and shoulders above the justly acclaimed accounts of C.S. Lewis in A Grief Observed and Sheldon Vanauken in A Severe Mercy.” Pakaluk downplays Novak’s adulations, “if the book is great, that is not on account of me – as I was only the observer.”

    Finally, Pakaluk’s Accounting Ethics … and the Near Collapse of the World’s Financial System, was published in the summer by Allen David Press, a business publisher. This, his third book on accounting professionalism, was written similarly in collaboration with Mark Cheffers, a long-time friend, CPA, and founder of the leading market intelligence service for the audit industry. As its title indicates, Pakaluk and Cheffers discuss professional ethics for accountants in the context of the recent financial melt-down, including case studies of AIG and Lehman Brothers.

    Accounting Ethics also gives a detailed analysis of the shift of accounting from a profession to business over the last century. It is unusual to find a philosopher writing on business. “One cannot write responsibly on professional ethics without having a good grasp of the relevant technical issues,” Pakaluk says, “And yet every educated person should have at least a basic grasp of accounting, as that is the language of business and free enterprise”.

    With a couple of months left in the year, does Pakaluk hope to bring out another book —or two? “Unfortunately, I have too many commitments to write chapters for scholarly volumes,” he said, “but, God willing, I hope to finish those still uncompleted books next year!”

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