ICE blogs

December 12, 2007

Why unethical conduct needs to be challenged

Filed under: Uncategorized, Headlines — news_editor @ 12:26 am

Unethical conduct in organizations needs to be challenged, the Rev. Dr John Strain told the annual conference of the Institute of Communication Ethics at Leeds Trinity and All Saints.

He said: ‘I am not thinking so much of encouraging whistle-blowing: going outside the organization with complaints of bad practice. Provision for whistle-blowing is important to address the failure of organizations to address serious breakdowns in ethics. I am thinking of something more prosaic: the encouragement of ethical critique within the normal life of the organization.’

Dr Strain, of the Centre for Applied and Professional Ethics, Surrey University, saw personal ethics less as conformance to books of rules, codes of conduct or even manuals of good practice but more about ‘learning about how we should behave in different circumstances we face in organizations’.

He continued: ‘It was Aristotle who taught us 23 centuries ago that the pursuit of virtue stresses the formation of ourselves as human beings, as being in relationships with others and in a persistent pursuit of the mean in our behaviour, being neither too generous nor too abstemious with the truth. It is an approach to ethics rooted in an understanding of human well-being as experienced rather than in a commitment to a set of foundationalist moral principles of the sort Kant sought to articulate through analysis of moral propositions and which lack sensitivity to the reality of human well-being.’

The conference was unusual in taking a ‘cafe’ theme with speakers only presenting for ten minutes, the next 50 minutes being taken up with relaxed, round-table discussions. In another presentation, Di Drummond, of Leeds Trinity and All Saints, examined the reporting of the Kosovo crisis in 1999. Johanna Fawkes, of the ICE executive group, applied a Jungian approach to her analysis of PR ethics theories. Gitte Meyer, of Copenhagen Business School, explored a range of ideas relating to diversity in journalism. And John Poulter, of Leeds Trinity, opened the conference with a brief and extremely thought-provoking talk on ‘The challenges of conceptualizing diversity’.

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