Cohen, Elliot D. 1951–

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COHEN, Elliot D. 1951–

PERSONAL: Born April 16, 1951, in Passaic, NJ; son of Walter (a watchmaker and jeweler) and Ruth (Kalin) Cohen; married Gale Sandra Spieler (a counselor), June 3, 1972; children: Tracey Lorette, William Michael. Education: Fairleigh Dickinson University, B.A. (summa cum laude), 1974; Brown University, A.M., 1976, Ph.D., 1977. Hobbies and other interests: Guitar.

ADDRESSES: Office—Department of Humanities, Indian River Community College, 3209 Virginia Ave., Fort Pierce, FL 34981-5599; and Institute of Critical Thinking, P.O. Box 12178, Fort Pierce, FL 34979-2178. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Providence College, Providence, RI, lecturer in philosophy of law, 1974–77; University of Florida, Gainesville, instructor in behavioral studies, 1978–79; Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, assistant professor of philosophy, 1979–80; Indian River Community College, Fort Pierce, FL, assistant professor, 1980–82, associate professor, 1983–88, professor of philosophy, 1989–. Barry University, professor, 1986–. Alpha Health Services, marriage and family counselor, 1986; Institute of Critical Thinking, director, 1990–. Leader of medical ethics workshops.

MEMBER: American Society for Philosophy, Counseling, and Psychotherapy (cofounder, 1990; member of board of executives, 1990–), Florida Philosophical Association (vice president, 1984–85; president, 1985–86), Phi Beta Kappa.

AWARDS, HONORS: Lilly postdoctoral fellow in the humanities, University of Florida—Gainesville, 1977–78; Teacher of the Year, Indian River Community College, 1998–99; Excellence Award in teaching, National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development, 2001.


Making Value Judgments: Principles of Sound Reasoning, Robert E. Krieger (Malabar, FL), 1985.

(Editor and contributor) Philosophers at Work: An Introduction to the Issues and Practical Uses of Philosophy, Holt, Rinehart and Winston (New York, NY), 1989, 2nd edition published as Philosophers at Work: Issues and Practice of Philosophy, Harcourt College Publishers (Fort Worth, TX), 2000.

Improving Your Thinking and Decision Making Skills: A Handbook of Fallacies, Institute of Critical Thinking (Fort Pierce, FL), 1990.

Caution: Faulty Thinking Can Be Harmful to Your Happiness: Logic for Everyday Living, Trace-Wilco (Fort Pierce, FL), 1991, self-help edition, 1992.

(Editor) Philosophical Issues in Journalism, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1992.

(Editor, with Michael Davis, and contributor) AIDS: Crisis in Professional Ethics, Temple University Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1993.

Journalism Ethics: A Reference Handbook, ABC-CLIO (Santa Barbara, CA), 1997.

The Virtuous Therapist: Ethical Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, Brooks (Belmont, CA), 1999.

What Would Aristotle Do? Self-Control through the Power of Reason, Prometheus (New York, NY), 2003.

Work represented in anthologies, including Professional Ideals, edited by Albert Flores, Wadsworth, 1988. Contributor to philosophy and psychology journals. International Journal of Applied Philosophy, founder and editor-in-chief, 1982–; International Journal of Philosophical Practice, cofounder and editor, 2000–.

SIDELIGHTS: As a professor of philosophy and a medical ethicist, Elliot D. Cohen has long taken an interest in applying abstract theories to real-life situations. He has edited Philosophical Issues in Journalism, a collection of essays by philosophers who have wrestled with the same issues of objectivity and exact meaning that plague journalists. Cohen urges journalism students to minor in philosophy, to gain a deeper understanding of these issues than journalism texts provide. In AIDS: Crisis in Professional Ethics, edited with Michael Davis, Cohen and his fellow contributors provide "systematic and reasoned discussions," according to an Issues in Law and Medicine contributor, for those wrestling with the pandemic. This includes not only nurses and doctors, but teachers, clergy, politicians, administrators, and many others who must steer between protecting privacy and preventing the spread of HIV. "By reexamining traditional ethics, the book asks readers to grapple with complex issues," explained a Publishers Weekly reviewer.

In addition to these works designed for particular professions or issues, Cohen has written a number of books for general readers. In works like Making Value Judgments: Principles of Sound Reasoning and Improving Your Thinking and Decision Making Skills: A Handbook of Fallacies, Cohen brings philosophical grounding to the self-help genre. In What Would Aristotle Do? Self-Control through the Power of Reason, he focuses on Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics as a method for making better decisions throughout our lives. For Cohen, an extreme reaction to conflicts or obstacles is one of the most common mistakes individuals make. He uses Aristotle's "middle way" to counter this tendency. Library Journal reviewer Terry Skeats noted that "Cohen's writing style is fairly conversational, and there is little technical philosophy here." Instead, Cohen uses case studies and plain language to guide the reader through the confusions, delusions, and unrealistic assumptions that prevent clear thinking in many real-world situations. Although a Publishers Weekly contributor called the book "somewhat overwritten and disorganized," the reviewer concluded that the work "provides antidotes for overcoming paralyzing emotional conditions … based on faulty reasoning."

Cohen told CA: "My work is largely motivated by the conviction that philosophical theories and methods can be applied fruitfully to matters of practical importance in everyday living."



Issues in Law and Medicine, winter, 1994, review of AIDS: Crisis in Professional Ethics, p. 376.

Library Journal, March 15, 2003, Terry Skeats, review of What Would Aristotle Do? Self-Control through the Power of Reason, p. 87.

Publishers Weekly, April 25, 1994, review of AIDS, p. 73; May 1, 2003, review of What Would Aristotle Do?