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Unformatted text preview: WEEK 2: ITEC 3290/ETHICAL & LEGAL ISSUES IN TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION This week we take a look at two issues that impact any technical communication we engage in – ethics and law. Many of us may not consider how either one of these issues directly impacts what and how we write – but believe me, they do. First, we will examine ethics. ETHICS IN TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION: “Ethics” is one of those slippery words that has many different meanings for many different people. My personal code of ethics may differ from yours. In terms of making decisions for how we live our lives, that’s okay – I live by my code, and you live by yours. But at work, it’s different. Our professions usually require certain standards that we have to live up to – regardless of how we feel personally about one matter or another. So how exactly do we define ethics? Ethics is the term given to the principles of belief and conduct held and performed by an individual or group of people . Ethics involves the concepts of right and wrong, moral or immoral, fair or unfair, just or unjust and good or bad. Each one of us comes into a situation with a code of ethics that has been shaped by the world around us. Our parents, teachers and peers help shape our ethics. The media helps form ethics. Our religion and personal mentors or heroes impact our ethics. Experience has a way of shaping our ethics – something I never would have believed at 18 years of age…and something I likely won’t be able to explain to my 11 year old daughter. And finally, and possibly most importantly, our culture impacts our ethics. Different cultures have different standards – and the culture that we live in shapes our sense of right and wrong in a dramatic way. Case in point – a number of years ago, there was a hubbub in the national media about a couple that left their infant in a stroller outside a New York City café while the couple went inside to eat. The baby was left sitting in the stroller unattended on the sidewalk outside the restaurant. A passerby called the police, and the couple got into a lot of trouble for “neglecting” their child. But the couple was from – I believe – the Netherlands. In their culture, this was common practice. Where they came from, there was nothing unethical about doing this. Another example. During the Persian Gulf War in the early 1990’s, my husband was a news photographer on assignment in Saudi Arabia. My husband is a polite southern gentleman – raise to be respectful of women. He was walking down the street and noticed a Saudi man walking with his wife up ahead. The couple was going into the same building as my husband, so my husband did what any man raised in his culture would do – he held the door open for the Saudi gentleman’s wife. The Saudi gentleman was incensed. My husband was stunned…and later was told that in the Saudi culture, doing such a thing was showing inappropriate attention to another man’s wife. What my husband saw as a sign of respect – inappropriate attention to another man’s wife....
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- Spring '12