Ethics in Conflict: Making the Case for a Critical Pedagogy


Leadership and Integrative Studies

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The past two decades have seen an increased emphasis placed on the relationship between communication and ethics, a subject that philosophers have debated for centuries. An analysis of textbooks as disciplinary artifacts reveals that students enrolled in communication courses across the university are often presented with conflicting or contradictory ethics instruction. Commonly, business and technical communication textbooks advocate a foundational approach toward the subject, whereas interpersonal communication textbooks, as taught within the liberal arts, support a nonfoundational view. Rather than bolstering students’ understanding of the importance of ethical communication, such broad-based contradictions might lead to an overall ambivalence toward the subject. A critical pedagogy—one that acknowledges and explores this tacit disciplinary debate on ethics—would provide students a more comprehensive philosophical and historical basis for determining their own perspectives on ethical communication.