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Ethics is generally concerned with the questions of right and wrong in situations where we have a choice of how we act but lack specific guidance from laws or morals.
Essentially ethics are what people use to distinguish right or wrong in the way they interact with the world.
What are the differences between the "three governing systems" of morals, laws and ethics?
Morals - usually refer to fairly clear right or wrong choices resulting from code of conduct derived from particular philosophy, culture or religion. (actions may be moral in one culture/religion but but not in another)
Laws - Based on a system of law that may be rational (or not) but is justified in terms of social concern (e.g maintaining order/control)
Ethics - Personal decision process or ideas that are applied when faced with an issue not completely covered by rules or morals but can be influenced by morals/laws/rules/duty. ("Serious and difficult questions about how we should lead our lives").
Define communication ethics?
Communication ethics is the notion that an individual's or group's behavior are governed by their morals which in turn affects communication.
Define ethical dilemma?
A complex situation that often involves an apparent mental conflict between moral imperatives in which to obey one would have to contravene another.
What is a ethical framework and what influences it?
A way of structuring your thinking and decision-making about ethical questions
Name 5 schools of thought for ethics?
- Virtue Ethics
- Deontological Ethics
- Consequential ethics (utilitarianism)
- Situational or contextual ethics
- Dialogical ethics
Define virtue ethics?
Ethics that are based on individual virtues.
An action is right if it is what a virtuous agent would do in the circumstances.
A virtuous agent is one who has and exercises the virtues (a character trait a human being needs to flourish or live well)
Define deontological ethics?
Ethics that are duty/rules based and follow a fundamental, universal or moral principle (actions are morally right or wrong independent of their outcome)
A action is right if it is IAW with a moral rule, duty or principal.
Define consequentialist ethics?
An action is right if it produces, or tends to produce the greatest amount of good or the greatest amount of people.
The outcome determines what is ethical.
For the three main schools of thought for ethics, summarise them simply?
Virtue ethics - what type of person should I be?
Deontological ethics - what type of actions am I required to do (or not do)
Consequentialist ethics - what type of outcomes or goals should I strive for?
Define Situational/contextual ethics?
Right and wrong depend on the situation. There are no universal oral rules or rights - each case is unique and deserves a unique solution. Based on context but not relativism.
Revelatism - the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity within themselves, but rather only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration.
Define dialogical ethics?
Communication ethics where dialogue emphasis empathy, open mindedness or neutrality to others point of view.
In terms of lying, apply it to the 5 schools of thought for ethics?
Virtue - lying is bad for you/your character.
Deontological - lying is bad always, always tell the truth.
Consequentialist - lying might be okay if most people benefit from it.
Situational - it depends, sometimes okay, sometimes not.
Dialogical - lying, concealing the truth could be exploitative, patronising. Empathy to the ethical views and values of other.
Detail the characteristics of ethical communication?
- Respectful of audience.
Should provide a genuine freedom of choice and decision making provided by access to accurate information.
List types of unethical communication acts.
- Coersive (intimidation, threatening)
- Destructive (of self esteem, reputation, feelings, degrading)
- Deceptive (lying, cheating, misleading, spin)
- Intrusive (surveillance, eavesdropping, monitoring)
- Secretive (covering up, hoarding information, unresponsive)
- manipulative/exploitative (attempting to gain compliance through exploitation of fears, prejudices or ignorance)
- Plagiarised (taking credit for someone elses work)
What are some of the rationalizations that people may use to justify conducting actions that are not ethical?
- Everybody is doing it, so why shouldn't I
- It isn't illegal
- If I don't do it, someone else will
What are some benefits to organizations when employees behave ethically?
Cheaper in the long run (long term benefits greater than short-term gains)
More often than not, its the easiest thing to do
Strategically (in terms of media and PR) it's the smartest thing to do.
- Fosters equality, tolerance and diversity
- Promotes care, respect and understanding
- Freedom of expression
- Open Communication channels
- Freedom from fear, oppression
- Empathy and listening
- Sense of "social responsibility"
- Leads to positive organizational culture
- Research suggest positive financial benefits.
Why might organizations behave unethically?
Profits (we must succeed)
Competition (both internal external)
Hierarchical expectations and power relations
Preoccupation with performance
Human imperfections, greed and biases
Corporate virtue, private vice
What is an ethical code?
A formal statement of an organization's ethical values and principles.
What are the advantages and drawbacks of a ethical code?
Advantages: basis for decisions, unite professional groups, sanction violators, provide public confidence
Drawbacks: Sometimes regarded with scepticism, depends on effective wording, enforcement, who benefits?
Gaps between "rhetoric" & "practice”?
List 4 ethical strategies organizations may adopt?
Proactive: Top-level approach for organisations (preventative, problems are anticipated)
Accommodative (meeting economic, legal and ethical responsibilities)
Defensive (meeting economic and minimum legal)
Obstructionist (only economic)