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RECLAIMING THE SUBJECT MATTER AS A GUIDE TO MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING: EFFECTIVNESS AND ETHICS IN INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION Introduction - Primary products of interpersonal interaction: o Personal identity o Mutual understanding - Descriptive accounts of interpersonal relationships need to be augmented by consideration of the ethical issues raised by: o The nature of identity formation o Mutual understanding - Interaction is conceptualized in terms of: o The demand that the subject matter places an openly formed mutually understanding Key concepts - Ethics - Communication ethics - Mutual understanding - Gadamer - Critical theory - Democratic communication - Free speech - Interpersonal system - Ideological discursive practices ETHICAL CONDUCT - Important in interpersonal interaction - Lack of discussion of ethics in communication represents: o The particular value orientation of the communicative field Aims primarily at influence and individual satisfaction, research concern with effectiveness - Central problem: o Trying to provide ethical principles which are applicable across contexts and situations without becoming dogmatic or ethnocentric - Thus, most attempts at defining ethics for interpersonal communication try to find a middle ground between dogmatic/absolutist ethics and total relativism - Middle ground established in three different manners: o Personal commitment to reasoned discourse o Democratic, egalitarian commitment to free speech o A situational or contextual morality arising out of specific communities - Almost all current ethics for communication are based in Western enlightenment tradition; Self ascribed strength lies in their: o Openness o Belief in reflective rational discourse o Commitment to their inherent goodness of the human character
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- These can also be seen in the descriptions of important values in a democracy: o A belief in the intrinsic worth of the human personality o A belief in reason as an instrument of individual and social development o Self determination as the means to individual fulfillment o Mans fulfillment of his potentialities as a positive good - Previous values function to form an interpersonal ethic o Reject any form of persuasion that may limit another’s freedom o Emphasis on values and attitudes of interactants rather than communication or institutional arrangement o Support all ethical systems designed to enhance reasoned discourse, personal growth, and democratic communication - Outside of the interpersonal context, focus is on the individual and the commitment to choice based in reasoned or reason giving communication - In order for such ethics to guide communicative choice, there must be a mutual commitment to these values and attitudes, however, they: o Fail as a practical guide when not reciprocal - Ethics for interpersonal communication developed at this time: o Focus on the individual and decisions made in interaction o Provide a statement of the constraints which the individual should accept as he or she attempts to be effective in interaction
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