Barbara MacKinnon's "Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues" is an example of an increasingly popular genre offered by textbook publishers. It is a hybrid between theoretical ethics and what is sometimes called applied ethics. One of the drawbacks of most of the textbooks in this genre is that in an attempt to cover two areas in one textbook they cover neither area well, or if one area is covered adequately, the other gets short shrift. MacKinnon's text is one of the latter.
Approximately one-quarter of her book is devoted to theoretical ethics. She covers all the standard approaches to decision making in the area of morality: relativism, utilitarianism, Kantianism, virtue ethics, etc. However, each of these approaches is covered in such brevity as to not give the student a truly adequate understanding either of the approach as a whole or of the issues that are raised by these approaches. For example, she covers the difference between act and rule utilitarianism in a page. This is hardly enough for an adequate discussion. In addition, each of these approaches not only includes her own analysis but a selection from one (and often more than one) proponent of the view she is discussing.
Part Two of her book, which is the applied ethics section, takes up about three-quarters of the text. Here too she covers the issues that are standard in such texts--abortion, euthanasia, economic justice, discrimination, environmental ethics, animal rights, genetic engineering and cloning, among others. The general format is the same--her own analysis of the issue followed by articles representing various perspectives on the issue in question. Once again, her discussion of these issues tries to do too much and hence remains relatively superficial.
Although the collection of writings she includes is valuable, the anthologized articles are standard ones and can be readily found in other applied ethics texts. Given the high cost of the book, an instructor considering MacKinnon's book might want to keep looking.