Presentation on theme: "Ethics and Technical Communication Be nice.. “The Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living” Socrates Clear understanding of our actions allows us to communicate."— Presentation transcript:
Ethics and Technical Communication Be nice.
“The Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living” Socrates Clear understanding of our actions allows us to communicate our motivations to others Without that understanding, we may be unable to convince others to support our decisions or render similar judgments in similar situations From Dombrowski, P. (2000). Ethics in technical communication. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Ethics… Justifies reasoning Considers “Right” action Considers the implications of action Thinks through multiple scenarios Shows awareness of real-world constraints
What is Ethics NOT? Easy Simple Clear-cut A way to find the “right” answer
Basic Principals of Ethics Abide by relevant laws Abide by the appropriate corporate or professional code of conduct Tell the truth Don’t mislead your readers Be clear Avoid discriminatory language Acknowledge assistance from others Markel, M. (2004). Technical communication (7 th Ed.). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s
But there are different types… Aristotelian –Virtue-driven, Rule-based decision- making Kantian –Situational, rule-based, motive-driven decision making Utilitarian –Cost-benefit analysis Feminist –awareness of decision-making repercussion and social hierarchy Ethics of Care –Decision making in order to show caring concern for all involved parties Many, many, more.
From Johnson-Sheehan, R. (2006). Technical Communication Today, 2 nd ed. New York: Pearson.Longman, p. 99. Intertwined Ethical Systems Personal Ethics Social EthicsConservation Ethics Family Culture Faith Rights Justice Care Sustainability Ecology Resources
To reiterate: working through ethical dilemmas is not… Easy Simple Clear-cut A way to find the “right” answer
The Heinz dilemma In Europe, a woman was near death from cancer. One drug might save her, a form of radium that a druggist in the same town had recently discovered. The druggist was charging $2000, ten times what the drug had cost him to make. The sick woman's husband, Heinz, went to everyone he knew to borrow the money, but he could get together only about half of what it should cost. He told the druggist that his wife was dying and asked him to sell it cheaper or to let him pay later. But the druggist said no. The husband got desperate and broke into the man's store to steal the drug for his wife. Should the husband have done that? Why?
Would it matter if: Heinz had been cheating on his wife?
Would it matter if: Heinz’ wife had been cheating on him?
Would it matter if: The druggist was also the pastor of a local church?
Would it matter if: The druggist was independently wealthy?
Would it matter if: The druggist was destitute?
Would it matter if: Heinz’ wife was 25 years old?
Would it matter if: Heinz’ wife was 88 years old?
Would it matter if: Heinz was an ex-convict?
Would it matter if: Heinz was a policeman?
Computer Crush A programmer is asked to write a program that will raise and lower a large X-ray device. He writes and tests his program. It successfully and accurately moves the device from the top of the support pole to the top of the table. The program is installed. Later, an X-ray technician tells a patient to get off the table after an X- ray is taken. The technician then sets the height of the device to “table-top height.” The patient, however, does not hear the technician and is crushed under the weight of the machine. Harris, C. E. Jr., Pritchard, M. S., & Rabins, M. J. (2004). Engineering ethics: Concepts and cases. Wadsworth.
To consider: How do we stop this from happening again? Who is to blame?
Would it matter if: The patient was lame?
Would it matter if: The patient was deaf?
Would it matter if: The technician was new?
Would it matter if: No training on the machine had been given?
Would it matter if: The only training was the required reading of a users manual?
Would it matter if: The programmer is from a different country?
Would it matter if: The programmer was not told where the machine was to be used?
Ethics in document design How you place information on the page affects the way your audience interprets that information Graphs, charts, etc. can hide information, or render vital statistics apparently meaningless