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Ethics in Technical Communication

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1 Ethics in Technical Communication
Sunil Gokhale

2 Definition: Ethics Ethics is doing what is RIGHT to achieve what is GOOD. The key to ethical action is to behave with integrity that is based on sound core of personal values.

3 Definition: Value A principle, standard or quality considered worthwhile or desirable. Value analysis boils down to the ability to distinguish right from wrong. Not all values are ethical. Interest: Regard for one’s own benefit or advantage

4 Ethics + Values Ethical value Unethical value Non-ethical value
A belief or a principle rooted in moral behavior, based on a sense of what is right. Unethical value A belief or a principle rooted in immoral behavior, based on a sense of what is wrong (of consciously disregarding what is right). Non-ethical value A belief or a preference that is not related to right and wrong

5 Value analysis: Concentric Ring model
Core values Honesty, Value of life, Love of family, Respect for others, Personal religious faith Authority values Political affiliations, Organized religion, Corporate loyalty, Patriotism Peripheral values Fashion tastes, Recreational preferences, Favorite sports, Ice cream flavors

6 Ethical Conflicts Right Vs Wrong Right Vs Right Wrong Vs Wrong
Conflict between clearly ethical and clearly unethical values Right Vs Right Conflict among two or more values, all ethical Wrong Vs Wrong Conflict among two or more values, all unethical

7 Definition: Business ethics
Personal integrity A person who adheres to an ethical value system, a moral code Social value The sense that we should share and cooperate, even if it means compromising our self interest

8 Are good ethics good business?
Virtue – It’s the right thing to do Doing what’s right for its own sake out of integrity and pride Prudence – It’s the smart thing to do Doing what’s right for fear of consequences of getting caught doing something wrong

9 Ten Basic Values in Technical Communication
Honesty Our duty to tell the right Legality Our duty to obey the law Privacy Our duty to respect the rights of others Quality Our duty to provide quality products and services that will best serve the user

10 Ten Basic Values in Technical Communication
Teamwork Our duty to work together to meet mutual objectives Avoiding conflict of interest Our duty to be loyal and to observe fair play Cultural sensitivity Our duty to reflect the growing diversity of the workplace in our technical communications

11 Ten Basic Values in Technical Communication
Social responsibility Our duty to preserve and protect the public good Professional growth Our duty to maintain and develop our skills Advancing the profession Our duty to respect and assist our colleagues and enhance the reputation of our profession

12 Honesty: The best policy?
Honesty is telling the truth. It’s right. Dishonesty is lying. It’s wrong. Are you honest? – Well, basically I’m honest. Communicating honestly is more than just telling the truth. It’s more than not telling a lie.

13 Price for (dis)honesty
Professors may feel the pressure to “publish or perish” Students feels it is “pass or perish” In business it is to serve the bottom line Internal competition for personal advancement is intense

14 Nine ways to lie in Technical Communication

15 Lying by Commission Deliberate outright falsification or prevarication

16 Lying by Omission Technical communicator not responsible for something that has been omitted before he gets the material.

17 Lying with Language Deliberate Vagueness Circumlocution Euphemisms
Weaving a verbal tapestry of verbal generalities to disguise the fact. Circumlocution Verbally talking around the issue Euphemisms Nice word used to sugar-coat an unpleasant reality False Generalization Logical fallacy Loaded and slanted language Terms that carry strong emotional connotations

18 Lying with Statistics Surveys Percentages Averages
Misuse of numbers for purpose of deception – by commission, omission or circumlocution Statistics is like a bikini – it reveals the necessary but conceals the essential Surveys Percentages Averages

19 Lying with Graphics If one picture is worth thousand words, then one lie in the graphics is worth thousand lies.

20 Lying with Photographs
Since the digital file can be subtly – or not so subtly – altered without a trace, it will become almost impossible to know whether a photograph is genuine or retouched.

21 Lying with Multimedia If still photographs can be altered with major consequences, consider the staggering impact of deceptive or inappropriate use of video footage, sound and animation.

22 Lying with Logical Fallacies
As trained linguistic specialists, technical communicators may be assumed to understand the logical fallacies; it’s therefore hard to imagine how they could use them without intent to deceive.

23 Lying with Propoganda Techniques
Cousins of logical fallacies used mostly in advertisements and politics but they crop up in marketing communication.

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