Robert James Beckett: Communication ethics – Principle and practice

Collective Intelligence, Cultural Intelligence
Robert James Beckett
Robert James Beckett

With permission Henry Stewart Publications

KEYWORDS: COMMUNICATION, ETHICS, DISCOURSE, DIALOGUE, LANGUAGE, RELATIONSHIPS.

Communication ethics

Principle and practice

Author: Robert Beckett MBA, coordinator Institute of Communication Ethics

Abstract

Communication ethics, this paper argues, is a discipline ready for application to communication management and is particularly relevant in an ‘age of information’. With a moral foundation firmly set in the social and human sciences, communication ethics offers managers a means to face unpredictable futures with greater certainty and purpose. This paper outlines an approach in which all decision-making and its communication are understood as having an ethical grounding. Such an application empowers managers to act with integrity across the spectrum of their varied communication roles: through management and internal communications, public affairs and marketing, in advertising, media and publishing, and in the use of information technology. Positioned independently from the professional bodies of communication, an interdisciplinary ethics offers practitioners skills and moral frameworks that can be shared across professions and used to compare and evaluate their practice. This paper concludes by presenting a model of communication ethics that individual managers can use to prescribe a more sensitive and dynamic human-ethical environment.

The information environment

If, as the communication-ethicist perceives, the human world is constructed through a galaxy of signs, words and values juxtaposed in flights of reality, rather than a fixed and permanent state of affairs where one thing holds true and one group holds sway, then the purpose of a model of communication ethics must be to provide the practitioner with a means of navigating a continuous dynamic reality. As Marshall McLuhan observed,

“The new environment of mankind is scarcely ‘hardware’ or physical, as it is information and the configurations of codified data.” (1)

Current predictions suggest the bitter demise of a Western model of consumer capitalism in as little as twenty-five years, caused directly by irreparable depletion of world resources (2). A sustainable replacement is emerging in the shape of an ‘information society’, propelled by rapid developments in information-communication technology (ICT) and founded on high-value, low-resource principles. (3). The critical question remains, is the speed of change necessary to ensure survival of world society actually achievable? (4) Communication ethics, a new science of decision-making, offers perception and skills that may be used to address a range of critical issues, both for communication practitioners and concerned world citizens. Indeed, communication ethics is an essential philosophy for the information age and particularly for the communication managers who act as agents for the most powerful technology ever known. In the words of Antonio Pasquali, “we live in an age of communication devoid of a morality of communicating.”(5)

While resource depletion is set to become an issue for all organisations, what is immediate for communication managers is turbulence in the face of a newly dynamic information environment. (6) The erratic behaviour of global trade systems has been explained, partly, by issues of human anxiety, caused by ‘information overload’, (7) inducing people in the ‘electronic village’ to feel threatened and in turn to challenge fundamental certainties (8, 9). Under threat, besides our collective and individual sanity, is one of the certainties of organisation performance; management control. In an age when too much information overwhelms and too little disables, managers are increasingly dependent on organisations experiencing multiple communication flows and consequent destabilising information effects. Jean Baudrillard, the French philosopher, put it thus:

What is constant is an immense uncertainty…The revolution of our time is the uncertainty revolution. We are not ready to accept this. Paradoxically, however, we attempt to escape from uncertainty by relying even more on information and communications systems, so merely aggravating the uncertainty itself. (10)

For communication management, charged with interpreting complex reality and combining multiple responses through both human interaction and media systems (11), the problem is that information is multiform, and both media and message are uncertain. For Richard Rorty, this is due to the uncertainty of words and the limits these impose on our labelling of reality. This principle he names ‘the contingency of language.’(12). An example can be drawn from political and media communication. The BBC’s Director General recently challenged the US media over its coverage of the Iraq war, which he described as ‘mixing patriotism and journalism’. (13) The invasion of Iraq by US led forces in 2003 has also exposed issues of interpretation over layers of words, meaning and evidence. Phrases like ‘ war on terror’, ‘weapons of mass distraction’ (sic), ‘axis of evil’ have been widely debated, due in part, to the significant vacuum in Alfred Korzybski’s conceptual framework, between ‘the world of words and not words’. (14.)

What has changed for communication practitioners and others, is the amount and speed of information and consequently, the increased ability of actors and audiences to interpret and challenge new and old realities. The variety of communication functions that now exist in any large organisation (see fig 1.) not only imply a more complex information-communication-media (ICM) environment, they imply the need for a shared perspective, namely communication ethics, to assist the integration of multiple communication functions and channels and which offers a common moral compass for deployment across organisation structures and for detailed attempts by managament to adapt their organisation though real-time sense-making. Following from Heisenberg’s (1926) uncertainty principle in the natural sciences and Baudrillard’s uncertainty principle in the communication sciences, it is not implausible that communication management underpinned with ethical principles provides a crucial integrating role for all organisation action. The description of organisation as an integrated communication system is not a new idea, as Chester Barnard made clear two generations ago:

In an exhaustive theory of organisation, communication would occupy a central place, because the structure, extensiveness and scope of the organisation are almost entirely determined by communication techniques. (15)

Yesterday’s organisation structure of ‘command and control in bureaucratic functions’ (16) are giving way to tomorrows’ dynamic information networks, as organisations decentralise to become ‘networks of flexible partners’ and   ‘distributed organisation forms’. In this environment, communication management is entrusted to optimise flexibility, learning and responsiveness across network operations. (17) Such changes in organisation structure, highlights the value of people, as individuals are equally expected to manage complex knowledge resources and to make decisions outside the traditional control environment. For the knowledge worker in the information age, freed from proximate control and inspired by ‘values that cannot be managed’, trust is essential. As Pacquet and Roy clarify:

…the central challenge of the new economy has been to find ways to create an environment in which knowledge workers do as much learning as possible…in order for learning to occur there must be conversations between and among partners. But since working conversations that create new knowledge can only emerge where there is trust, trust & confidence prove to be essential inputs. (18)

For communication managers, charged with aligning presentation with performance, inside and outside of the organisation, examined values (ethics) are central to the building of trust. This paper suggests that communication managers, trained in separate but related trades and functional disciplines, should embrace communication ethics, as a powerful and fundamental programme of competence, ensuring quality in personal responsiveness and trust in both systems and messages for which they are held accountable.

Particularly for public relations, or other practitioners, it is worth noting that communication ethics is driven from a theoretical foundation set in mainstream communication research, offering plenty of potential to cross-pollinate learning from public affairs and public relations into research for communication ethics.

Principles

Concerned with the power of the emerging computing-media-information-entertainment-culture industries (CMIEC), interdisciplinary study and teaching in communication ethics has grown rapidly over the past thirty years, particularly in the USA. However, communication ethics is founded not only in western media culture and the social and human sciences, but also in traditions such as ancient and non-Western ethics, less visible in the fast-moving industrialised world. What is important in communication ethics is not the obvious, although this requires to be clarified, but the unspoken, the unrepresented and the apparently uninvolved.

The moral dimension of communicating should be studied, of course, from a multicultural perspective, one that is multimoral and multisituational. (19)

Within European academe, Jurgen Habermas is identified with linking ethical reason and discourse, using a philosophy of language and his own ‘theory of communicative action’. (20) Habermas and colleagues, memorably K.O.Apel, began an examination of ethics of communication in the late 1960s. It was Apel who, in 1973, defined an essential feature for the new discipline, the ‘a priori of the community of communication’. (21) This formula identified the value of communication as the innate human skill and a foundational value absolutely necessary for any discussion of social justice, political association, or indeed, business organisation. For communication managers, the question might seriously be asked; is there anything that is more important to our conception of human being, beyond the skills and values of communication and ethics?

Nearly two decades ago, Habermas designed an ethics of discourse that predicted many of the difficult methodological questions facing today’s organisational ethics programmes. In one well known principle, the ‘theory of public spheres’, Habermas defined how the ‘system’ of organisation and integrated political structures, often crowded out what he called the ‘lifeworld’ (following from Husserl, 1905), thereby reducing the opportunity for people to live freely and justly.

I call those public spheres autonomous which are neither bred nor kept by a political system for purposes of creating legitimation. (22)

However, some universal principles espoused by Habermas and others have been criticised. In what Michel Foucault labelled ‘regimes of truth’ (23) the great postmodernist philosopher warned of the tendency for universal values to become part of an apparatus of control, thereby endorsing his own preference for the ‘uncertainty of relativities’. For communication managers, balance between universal and relative positions can be viewed as an ongoing feature of ethical debate and the basis of ongoing dialogue with multiple constituencies.

Practice

Interpretative skills, founded in communication ethics, can provide communication managers with knowledge and techniques that add value to entire careers, particularly where interpretation of complex events is considered a definitive skill. In the interpretive-lingual world of the social scientist, the communications manager identifies what Anthony Giddens (24) called the ‘double hermeneutic’ of social formation, i.e. real time construction of meaning in society. (Def: hermeneia, interpretation).

However, to the communication ethicist, easy answers may signal glib assumptions. For instance, technological solutions, often presented as ‘ideal’, may also be limiting, being unresponsive to complex interpretive events. Antonio Pasquali perceives technology as part of the problem:

[there are]… three principal side effects.[of technological communication] a) a growing apartheid between interlocutors b) an easy introduction of noise into messages c) the curbing of all direct and immediate responses, preventing lineal                                       messages from developing into dialogue. (25)

Language, values and the concepts built into general and specialist vocabularies are critical to analyses in communication and ethics. How terms are defined and interpreted by people in dialogue events, influences both dispute and agreement. In communication ethics the debate around language and dialogue supports the notion that language agreement precedes ‘dialogue’. For Assad, language:

“ is governed by institutionally defined power relations between the languages/modes of life concerned.” (26)

Dialogue is not something that can be achieved by writ or decree according to Habermas, whose discourse ethics was established on the principle that any dialogue should consider if:

“all affected can accept the consequences and side effects its general observance can be anticipated to have for the satisfaction of everyone’s interests.” (27)

Thus dialogue can only develop effectively through trust and values and a commitment to shared perceptions founded in language and cultural analyses. For communication managers charged with designing dialogue events, communication ethics offers a critique that supports dialogue. Habermas introduced the following ethical injunction, providing for a form of ‘deep communication’, i.e. the chance that things will actually change, not merely appear to do so:

“In discourse, the unforced force of the better argument prevails.” (28:)

For communications managers, ethical practice may imply a substantial loss of control in making decisions through dialogue with ‘stakeholders’, because the undiluted process of dialogue may simply undermine management strategy. What happens if a corporation’s critics are right in their long term judgement that the business, or even its industry, is unsustainable? What is important in communication ethics, however, is that the dialogue be conducted with an understanding of principles that encourage communication and an application of further principles that enhance the freedom of those involved to affect the dialogue and to benefit from its outcomes. For corporate dialogue events the implications are complex and long term. How does one secure communication that is valuable to all parties, addresses real change and does not reduce or undermine the value of people involved?

A model of communication ethics

Members of the Institute of Communication Ethics (ICE) have designed a model of ‘communicative relations’ (29) (fig.2), ‘PMOGI’, as a self-evaluation tool, enabling users to capture and identify diverse issues of communication ethics. It provides a framework for interpretation of events and allows users to identify ethical issues in relationships, in the process keeping faith with Zygmunt Bauman’s admonition;

Modern legislators and modern thinkers alike felt that morality rather than being a ‘natural trait’ of human life, is something that needs to be designed and injected into human conduct; and this is why they tried to compose an all comprehensive, unitary ethics –that is, a cohesive code of moral rules which people could be taught and forced to obey. (30)

The danger of ethical systems that demand compliance is just this; that experts design systems that people are then forced to comply with. It is a clear purpose of the PMOGI model, to enable participants to identify and evaluate underlying ‘regimes of truth’ for themselves. The model can be used in a number of ways:

  • to describe the interrelationships between actors and their competing perspectives in dialogue
  • to identify tensions between participants and powers that may, or may not, be appropriately presented
  • to describe the complexity of ethical issues faced in any dialogue and allow people to make self-informed decisions

The PMOGI model provides a framework for assessing ethical questions using ‘standpoint theory’ (31) a feminist research method characterising viewpoint as emerging from a particular standpoint. The model identifies five standpoints from which dialogue, or discourse, emerges: ‘interpersonal, group, organisational, media and political’. These groups roughly correspond to roles played in the field of communications management, although significantly, adding ‘interpersonal’ and ‘group’ communication roles. These latter two ‘personal-relational’ roles are central to perspectives in communication ethics. The power of the model derives from its clear category limits and its identification of relational tension points between the standpoints. The PMOGI model is summarised here, however for use as a live, or decision support tool (DST), PMOGI has a number of more detailed developments which this article precludes, due to space.

Political communication ethics

The model commences with the political dimension of communication ethics, presenting this as the uniquely powerful dimension of communication in society. Political communication ethics is a recognisable field (32) and refers to a set of political values and arrangements that are often assumed, or hidden. Ethical consideration suggests political issues are at the root of a variety of more apparent issues, for instance, at an individual, group or organisational level. This can be explained by the broad powers held in the political-legal-governance domains and the powerful effects these have on the other dimensions of the model. Communication researchers and others have long recognised that the social and political spheres are bound up in an analysis of communication. For instance, Carey writes that:

Society exists only by transmission, by communication, but it may fairly be said to  exist in transmission, in communication (33)

Carey’s definition of communication in public life, “as a symbolic process whereby reality is produced, maintained, repaired and transformed” (34) also reminds us of a mediated reality described earlier by Marshall McLuhan, i.e. that only through the shared perspectives of mediated discourse, does meaning arise and is meaning assigned. This dynamic interpretation of political and social reality is a profound task and requires a communication ethics capable of examining the role of politics itself, particularly through examination of its many practices and of its underlying principles.

For communication managers charged with prosecution of organisational goals using political processes, there is a clear requirement for a well-founded ethics that enables communication of moral argument and provides a means of evaluating complex inter-related political, regulatory and legal questions. Political communication ethics provides a framework of values and analysis, establishing the principles of communication and ethics as being key to making decisions and assessing consequences for political action.

Media communication ethics

More recently, a growing number of commentators have identified the power of large media organisations as key players in the life of democratic society and for its health (35, 36.) The convergence of broadcasting, telecommunications and the internet has created new dynamics and ethical issues, of access, privacy and security for instance, which have never existed before. (37) The media, like other less powerful industries, are benefiting from the application and efficiency of computing. In fact computing, which is now the underpinning technology of convergent media systems, itself requires an ethics. As Bynum and Rogerson describe:

We are entering a generation marked by globalisation and ubiquitous computing. The second generation of computer ethics, therefore, must be an era of ‘global information ethics’. The stakes are much higher and consequently considerations and applications of information ethics must be broader, more profound and above all effective in helping to realise a democratic and empowering technology rather than an enslaving or debilitating one. (38)

How ethical debate is defined and resolved through multiple communication channels is a considerable issue now facing the field of communication ethics. Not only does the media debate and influence what is going on, it affects how governments and regulators behave (see case history), the behaviour and thinking of business, the public sector, as well as voluntary and community initiatives (39). Additionally, it profoundly affects individuals and their ways of thinking and perceiving reality. (40) The media itself has become an important actor and needs to be addressed not merely as a reporter, but as a participant as well.

The PMOGI model suggests that media professionals should benefit from understanding and perceiving ethical issues from a well-founded practice of communication ethics. This will provide them with knowledge to assist examination and dissemination of complex ethical debates, including assessing the impact of media on the interpersonal, group, organisational and political dimensions of the model.

Organisation communication ethics

Since communication is a core management function, according to Werner David;

Management is in essence the act of communication, for management processes are linked to the receipt of information and its valid interpretation which results in effective decision making. (41)

It is clearly essential that those employed in communications management have a well-grounded perception of its ethical foundation. A variety of theories exist that link the role of organisation communication with its ethical underpinning. Freeman & Gilbert (42) propose two axioms of ethical management: Axiom 1.Corporate strategy must reflect an understanding of the values of organisational members and stakeholders. Axiom 2. Corporate strategy must reflect an understanding of the ethical nature of strategic choice. For communication managers making fast-paced decisions across dynamic informational and relational boundaries, communication ethics provides an ‘evaluation space’ and ‘rule-set’ to assess organisation decision making.

More recently, there is a substantive requirement for communication managers to critique ethics initiatives in organisations generally, in order to ensure they enhance trust and are not actually coercive regimes that hide fundamentally unethical procedures. In his criticism of ethical codes, Hugh Willmott quotes a commentary by Foucault, that may hold true for many of today’s corporate ethics programme.

Codes seek to establish their authority as an objective ‘regime of truth’ as employees are invited to suspend any disbelief they may have in the adequacy of the code’s contents, as a description of corporate activity. (43)

Communication ethics provides a platform from which to evaluate all programmes for their ethical content, linking these to information flows both inside and outside the organisation. In the process, communication ethics provides a language to build confidence in shared knowledge and trust in relations held between organisations and the people whose lives they increasingly effect.

The PMOGI model identifies that the organisation is simply one of the actors involved in encouraging   discourse on ethical issues, and that other actors, such as individual managers for instance, or the media, can have a profound effect on organisational ethics programmes. As some have remarked, Enron had significant sustainability and corporate responsibility programmes in place before its untimely demise.

Group communication ethics

Consultation and engagement with communities is a fast developing field for corporate communication and its related ethics programmes. However, rules, conditions and outcomes are still at an early stage of their development cycle, and rarely underpinned with conditions not driven by corporate expedience. (44). For example, in some areas, there is the perception that new ethical programmes are co-opting so called ‘stakeholders’, in discussion group formats that are essentially unethical, appearing to share the benefits from the process so unevenly. (45) For instance, there is little understanding of how teams are designed using ethical principles, thereby protecting individuals against co-option and manipulation by the organisation, or by its leaders. (46)

In CE the group is seen as of increasing importance both inside and outside organisation. This is because the decision-making group is more significant as decisions in networks and interdependent media environments become more transparent and have wider implications. Likewise, poor decision-making becomes both clearer and equally more damaging (47). In undertaking a corporate dialogue event it may be worth remembering these rules of reason, established by Robert Alexy (48), although refining the original model proposed by Jurgen Habermas:

1. every subject with the competence to speak and act is allowed to take part in a discourse

2a. everyone is allowed to question any assertion whatsoever

2b. everyone is allowed to introduce any assertion whatever into the discourse

2c. everyone is allowed to express their attitudes, desires and needs

3. no speaker may be prevented, by internal or external coercion, from exercising their rights as laid down in 1.or 2.

Group decision-making, founded on principles of communication ethics, involves all participants, reduces the role of experts, carries a commitment to on-going relations, provides material for consensus and encourages action. (49) In the PMOGI model of group communication ethics, the separate agendas for individual and organisation are made clear, as are ‘tension-points’ in group relationships with the media and in political systems.

Interpersonal communication ethics

Within the context of the social good, all ethical issues must be founded on an ethic of care for the individual (50, 51). In social discourse, the ‘demise of the self’ has been widely commentated on and implies that individuals and individual rights and responsibilities should be re-examined and re-integrated into various debates within society, the professions and academia itself. However, interpersonal ethics is a field of substantial value, requiring to be liberated from, as well as being linked to organisation communication systems. How, for instance, when individuals are not protected through ethical procedure, can they insure themselves against a perspective such as the following powerful theme in ethical reasoning?

Without a commitment to norms that are beyond one’s own self interest, moral claims are merely emotional preferences. (52)

The interpersonal level of communication ethics thus encourages examination of issues from the personal perspective and ensures that new ideas and ethics that emerge through individual creative expression can be integrated into broader discourse. In this way individuals are offered the protection that ethical consideration affords. In John Donaldson’s model of situated ethics (53), he suggests that ethics are integrated into four dimensions 1) the law 2) regulation 3) quality systems and 4) individual values. A communication ethics founded in the interpersonal realm can support these broader regimes, particularly where responses are so formalised and long term, as for instance with interpretation of the law. For the communication ethicist, the interpersonal dimension is founded on individual abilities to use and understand language, reasoning skills and personal values. This is a position identified by Hans Georg Gadamer in his famous ontological statement, “being that can be understood is language” (54). For practitioners of communication, these are skills that are critical over entire career trajectories and often remain informal and personalised. In the fast paced world of professional decision-making, personal ethics may indeed conflict with group and organisation ethics and with issues of substance centred on personal aptitudes and social conditionings.

The PMOGI model highlights the ‘essential tensions’ between interpersonal and group communications, as well as highlighting aspects of organisation, media and political relationships, where individuals are often disempowered.

In conclusion, it is clear that further research is required in the interstices between actors in the model and to identify tensions that large-scale ethical programmes often ignore, or even exacerbate.

Case history –

The following case shows a limited practical application for the PMOGI model. Based on a personal text analysis of a media story, the model suggests possible interpretations of a text rather than a final all embracing truth. An alternative application of the model might include holding dialogue events with

groups of practitioners from each of the five dimensions, i.e. political, media organisation, group and interpersonal. Such a multi-group exercise is likely to reveal more themes in the discourse, which might then be reintegrated into further dialogue.

Words of War

On April 27, 2003 the Reuters news agency carried an item quoting the Director General of the BBC, the UK national broadcaster. Mr Dyke made a number of statements apparently, in a speech to a University of London conference. He is quoted as saying “Personally, I was shocked while in the United States by how unquestioning the broadcast news media was during the war. If Iraq proved anything it was that the BBC cannot afford to mix patriotism and journalism…This is happening in the United States and if it continues, will undermine the credibility of the US electronic news media.” He added a direct criticism of Clear Channel Communication Inc. “We are genuinely shocked when we discover that the largest radio group in the United States was using its airwaves to organise pro-war rallies.” (55)

Case analysis

These comments by the leader of a state owned broadcaster offers an intriguing picture of the point at which politics and the media collide. The Director General identifies media practice in the US, however there is an underlying analysis of the way that ALL national media act and report in times of war. This statement clearly links war reporting with the conduct of war, an issue of national concern and one at the centre of national debate even today, some months after the invasion. With OFCOM legislation passing through the UK Parliament at present , increasing the potential of foreign ownership in UK broadcast media, another question is raised. Whether international media ownership might be detrimental to national political interest and to the quality of war reporting?

Media communication ethics

The reference to Clear Channel refers to the democratic responsibility of media organisations to remain neutral, and to provide a balanced view of international news, and especially of war. It is interesting to note that the recent case of a junior reporter fabricating stories at the New York Times, has led to the resignation of the paper’s editor, while no inquiry into US media reporting of the war looks likely (56). It is also interesting to note that, while a great deal of work is undertaken on war reporting by concerned journalists, little interest is apparent in the mainstream media organisations. In this case the Director General’s remarks should be welcomed by an industry that becomes critical and central to national life in times of war.

Organisation communication ethics

My organisation analysis for this case relates to the behaviour of media organisations generally in times of war, but specifically to the example of Clear Channel Inc., and its direct support for the war aims of the US government. For this observer, the implications are that the corporate interest and the government interest may become closely aligned in times of war, a situation of deep concern, particularly as many multinational corporations are offered specific and generous licenses to operate in nation states, where war is conceivable and ‘trade wars’ a reality. It is also conceivable that war and business might become further entwined throughout international politics, if this line has not already been crossed in the Iraq war itself?

Group communication ethics

This case does not include a simple dimension of group communication ethics, unless it is relevant that national media editorial is overseen by a small group of people, largely self-regulated through their dominant interest in the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), the UK’s main regulatory body. There may also be a group leadership element in the views expressed. Mr Dyke is addressing his own organisation, the BBC, displaying integrity worthy of respect by colleagues.

Interpersonal communication ethics

The power of this statement can be recognised as a news event in itself and worthy of being read in a number of ways. The Director General of the BBC must speak for an organisation, for the licence payer and for the government, rather than for themselves. The integrity of news reporting is a significant value for British media and a subject of national concern. The value of leadership in picking up issues of integrity is demonstrated. It might be construed, however, that this speech has another dimension and has more to do with building political support for the BBC, securing legitimacy and power, by criticising an ‘off-range target’.

This is a personal evaluation of a media event, used to demonstrate the simplest application of the PMOGI model. Analysis using multiple sources and viewpoints would immediately legitimise, sharpen and provide detail to any such view.

Summary

Communication ethics founded on social science traditions is a significant new discipline available as a resource for communication managers. It provides a well-grounded view of reality, based on theories of perception, knowledge and action. For practitioners, communication ethics offers a coherent standpoint from which to view, understand and address the complexities of an information age.

The discipline centres human well-being as the key specific for all analyses and critiques versions of reality that tend to privilege systems over people. It provides a means for people from many perspectives and cultures to join together, through shared understanding and commitment to the process of ethical communication itself, particularly by unveiling language and assumptions that lie beneath and between different cultural traditions, symbols and meanings.

Communication ethics encourages practitioners to consider their views and roles based on personal integrity, to allow mediation between competing positions and for individual protection against groups and organisations, where coercion and manipulation are always possible.

If the interpretive domain is lingual, and if language is the matrix of community, then human bonds are not constituted by reason or action, but through finding common meaning in hermeneia [interpretation]. (57)

An opportunity exists for communication management to embrace a new discipline that supports all communication practice. Such a discipline will be centred on a profoundly situated ethics of well-being and care for people, combined with a well-grounded theory of communication. Communication ethics offers a foundational philosophy for communication managers in an age of information.

References in the document:

ODT (16 Pages): 2003-07-05 communication ethics JCM (2)(1)