ERIC Number: ED222950
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Nov
Reference Count: 0
Carrying Ethical Concepts across Cultural Boundaries.
Howell, William S.
Western notions of right and wrong have dominated consideration of ethical issues in various domestic and remote cultural environments. A review of eight generalizations put forth by rhetorician Richard Johannesen on the ethics of rhetoric indicates that many scholars in contemporary speech communication believe that for people in other cultures to make ethical decisions they must think the way Westerners believe that Westerners think. Rhetorical attempts to find universal ethical principles have consisted of a quest for universal values. While values differ crossculturally, the "process" of applying values may be similar across cultures. Ethics, then, are techniques by which one attemtps to make certain values work appropriately. The classic error of rhetoric in dealing with morality has been to confuse ethics and values. To seek out ethical practices, the first step is to view a culture's value system as a frame of reference. Processual or ethical elements viable in any culture include (1) intent, (2) a gap between morality and ethics (the code differs from its application), (3) individual levels of values application, (4) societal flexibility of application, and (5) social utility of ethical behavior. Knowing that ethics are not situational but that values are, scholars must replace the term "situational ethics" with "situational values," which will then make possible the productive crosscultural study of ethics. (HTH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (68th, Louisville, KY, November 4-7, 1982).