Ethics in conflict

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Ethics in conflict. COMM 411 Communication in Conflict Management Dr. Amy M. Bippus. Why do you want to study conflict communication?. To learn how win arguments? To understand yourself better? To be a better family member/friend/romantic partner/co-worker? - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Transcript of Ethics in conflict

  • ETHICS IN CONFLICTCOMM 411Communication in Conflict ManagementDr. Amy M. Bippus

  • Why do you want to study conflict communication?To learn how win arguments? To understand yourself better? To be a better family member/friend/romantic partner/co-worker? To understand conflict as a social dynamic?Other reasons?

  • What is ethical communication?How can we be unethical in our communication during conflicts?What sorts of behaviors would constitute ethical conflict?

  • Objectives:

    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. Johannesens (2002) Ethics in Human Communication .

  • Ethics vs. moralsEthics refers to theory, to abstract universal principles and their sources, whereas moral implies practicing those principles of applied ethics, or culture-bound modes of conduct.

    From J. V. Jensens (1997), Ethical Issues in the Communication Process.

  • Conflict Case Study IMr. 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 councils 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.

  • Kohlbergs 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 punishmentPerson thinks that rules are prescribed by a powerful authority, which/he must unquestioningly obey; threat of punishment makes something wrongi.e., Is Mr. Hernandez required by law to have Open Meetings?

    Stage 2: Individualism and exchangePerson 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 returni.e., Will it make it easier for Mr. Hernandez not to have an Open Meeting?

  • Kohlbergs Moral Stages Level II: Conventional morality

    Stage 3: Good Interpersonal RelationshipsPerson moves toward consideration of motives, focuses on good character traits, and looks to standards of family or communityi.e., Do good council members take input from their constituents?; or Will I look bad to my colleagues if I dont 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 way? i.e., How can the citys government work if citizens arent allowed input?

  • Kohlbergs Moral Stages Level III. Postconventional Morality

    Stage 5: Social Contract and Individual RightsPerson recognizes that society needs to preserve individual rights; rules = social agreements that can be changed through democratic proceduresi.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?

  • Class activity

    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 (

  • For next classRead Good Samaritans: No middle ground article (e-reserve)

    Next Topic: Moral decision making in conflict

  • Good Samaritan articleMain points?

  • Conflict Case Study IIDeanna 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 MakingMoral sensitivity: interpreting a situation in terms of how ones actions affect the welfare of others

    Moral judgment: formulating what a moral course of action would be

    Moral motivation: deciding on an action among competing possibilities

    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 partys 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 IIIDerek 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 discussionAfter 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?

  • Youre now ready for the test!

    NAME: Amy M. Bippus DEPARTMENT: Communication StudiesE-MAIL ADDRESS: abippus@csulb.eduTITLE OF THIS MODULE: Integrating ethical thinking into Communication in Conflict Management (COMM 411) Background on the course: Communication and Conflict Management (COMM 411) is an upper division undergraduate course I have taught continuously since my appointment at CSULB in 1999. Several years ago, it was made a capstone course, so it attracts students from across the university and focuses on advanced critical thinking, skill building, and research integration on the topic of effective conflict management. The course enrolls approximately 200-300 students per year. The design of the course is very interactive and applied, with students contributing their own ideas and examples during class discussions and interacting with each other via online week-long conferences about supplemental readings and topics. They also have major presentation assignments in which they present and analyze conflict situations, suggest alternative communication strategies, and reenact the scenarios to demonstrate recommended improvements.

    Rationale for the ethics module: This course is designed to help students to analyze problematic communication behaviors, explain how communication behaviors escalate conflicts, and identify more productive communication behaviors to both prevent and manage specific conflict episodes. As such, it is an obvious forum for the discussion of ethical interpersonal thinking and conduct. While the course does emphasize issues of collaborative (A. K. A. Win-Win) approaches to conflict, much of the text and supplementary readings discuss the benefits of these approaches in terms of indirect self-gain; that is, doing what is good for others so that they will be more likely to reciprocate in kind. I believe that this emphasis amounts to an oxymoronic strategic altruism, without consideration of the moral or ethical grounds for striving for promoting the rights and dignity of other people in conflicts. Part of this problem may be borne of the communication disciplines emphas