Ethics in conflict - California State University, Long Beach
Transcript Ethics in conflict - California State University, Long Beach
ETHICS IN CONFLICT
Communication in Conflict Management
Dr. Amy M. Bippus
Department of Communication Studies
California State University, Long Beach
Why do you want to study conflict
To learn how win arguments?
To understand yourself better?
To be a better family member/friend/romantic
To understand conflict as a social dynamic?
What is ethical communication?
How can we be unethical in our
communication during conflicts?
What sorts of behaviors would constitute
Sensitize us to the inherency of potential ethical issues in
conflict communication process
Highlight the complexities and difficulties involved in
making evaluations of communication ethics
Encourage us to develop thoughtfully our own workable
approach to assessing communication ethics
Enhance our ability to make specifically focused and
carefully considered ethical judgments
Adapted from R. L. Johannesen’s (2002) Ethics in Human Communication .
Ethics vs. morals
“Ethics refers to theory, to abstract
universal principles and their sources,
whereas moral implies practicing those
principles of applied ethics, or culturebound modes of conduct.”
From J. V. Jensen’s (1997), Ethical Issues in the Communication Process.
Conflict Case Study I
Mr. Hernandez is the newly chairman of the city council as
Chairman. The city must close one of the local parks for financial
reasons, but there is no agreement over which one. Parks are the
heart of the community – they have green spaces, community
meeting places, and recreational programs for citizens, not to
mention their effect on the surrounding property values.
During his election to the city council, Mr. Hernandez had proposed
a series of “Open Meetings” in which members of the community
could voice their opinions. He hoped that the dialogue would make
the community realize the necessity of closing a park and foster
support for the council’s decision. But at the first Open Meeting,
speakers were openly hostile toward the idea and the council, and
the meeting barely closed without fist-fights. Some council members
later received threatening phone calls.
Mr. Hernandez considers cancelling the next Open Meeting.
Kohlberg’s Moral Stages
Level I Pre-moral
Kohlberg, Lawrence (1973). The claim to moral adequacy of a highest stage of moral judgment. Journal of
Philosophy ,70, 630-646.
Stage 1: Obedience and punishment
Person thinks that rules are prescribed by a powerful
authority, which/he must unquestioningly obey; threat
of punishment makes something wrong
i.e., Is Mr. Hernandez required by law to have Open
Stage 2: Individualism and exchange
Person realizes that not all people see rules the same
way, so people are free to pursue their individual
interests; give to others in order to get in return
i.e., Will it make it easier for Mr. Hernandez not to
have an Open Meeting?
Kohlberg’s Moral Stages
Level II: Conventional morality
Stage 3: Good Interpersonal Relationships
Person moves toward consideration of motives, focuses
on “good” character traits, and looks to standards of
family or community
i.e., Do good council members take input from their
constituents?; or Will I look bad to my colleagues if I
don’t preserve the safety of the council?
Stage 4: Maintaining social order
Person thinks of behaviors in terms of society as a whole
– how would the world be if we all did/not act this
i.e., How can the city’s government work if citizens
aren’t allowed input?
Kohlberg’s Moral Stages
Level III. Postconventional Morality
Stage 5: Social Contract and Individual Rights
Person recognizes that society needs to preserve individual
rights; rules = social agreements that can be changed
through democratic procedures
i.e., How can Mr. Hernandez give residents a chance
to participate in the decision process in an orderly way?
Stage 6: Universal Principles*
Person feels that inner conscience takes precedence over
social order or specific laws
i.e., Is the chaos of the meetings justified given the
importance of this issue to residents?
In groups, share conflicts you have had that involved ethical
decisions or dilemmas. The situation must present a
behavioral dilemma, requiring a decision about two courses
of action. It can be based on a situation in your family,
workplace, school, or elsewhere.
Decide on 1 scenario from each group to be turned into a
short (<250 word) case study. We will then make these the
basis for discussion on this week’s conferences. I will edit them
for appropriateness. Include the following:
False names for the main parties involved
A description of the central dispute
A description of the issues or factor involved
For next class…
Read “Good Samaritans: No middle
ground” article (e-reserve)
Moral decision making
“Good Samaritan” article
Conflict Case Study II
Deanna is struggling in her chemistry
class. She has fallen behind due to an
illness, and now has to take a make-up
exam for which she is not well prepared.
Her professor seats her alone in a
conference room to take the exam and
then returns to his office. She realizes that
he has given her the answer key along
with her exam.
Moral Decision Making
Moral sensitivity: interpreting a situation in terms of
how one’s actions affect the welfare of others
Moral judgment: formulating what a moral course of
action would be
Moral motivation: deciding on an action among
Moral character: acting out what one intends to do
Rest, J.R. (1984). Research on moral development: Implications for training counseling psychologists. Counseling
Psychologist, 12, 19-29.
What is fair in conflicts?
Two principles for fairness in interpersonal conflicts:
Equal chance principle - the harm for each person
should be minimized to a roughly equal degree; if
not possible, each person should receive the highest
equal chance to avoid harm
Importance principle – the importance of each
party’s interests are weighed; the stronger the
interest, the more reason to favor the person to
whom it belongs
Segev, R. (2006). Well-being and fairness. Philosophical Studies, 131, 369-391.
Conflict Case Study III
Derek and Heidi are dating and are
moving into an apartment together. They
disagree about how to split the rent.
Derek earns about 2/3 of what Heidi
does, and has medical bills from a car
accident to pay back. Heidi has no debt,
but is saving for an extended trip abroad
with her family.
National Communication Association
We advocate truthfulness, accuracy, honesty, and reason as essential
to the integrity of communication.
We strive to understand and respect other communicators before
evaluating and responding to their messages.
We condemn communication that degrades individuals and humanity
through distortion, intimidation, coercion, and violence, and
through the expression of intolerance and hatred.
We are committed to the courageous expression of personal
convictions in pursuit of fairness and justice.
We accept responsibility for the short- and long-term consequences
for our own communication and expect the same of others.
Conference board discussion
After reading the conflict dilemma presented to your
group (from last class), discuss the following questions in
with your group this week :
a. What are reactions that people might have to this
dilemma reflecting each of Kohlberg's stages?
b. What would be the moral “ideal” in this situation?
What are some other deciding factors to be
considered? What are some factors that might prevent
the parties from acting on this ideal?
c. What would YOU do in this situation, and why?
You’re now ready for the test!