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Just a Job?Communication, Ethics, and Professional Life$
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George Cheney, Dan Lair, Dean Ritz, and Brenden Kendall

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195182774

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182774.001.0001

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Starting Conversations about Professional Ethics

Starting Conversations about Professional Ethics

(p.49) 2 Starting Conversations about Professional Ethics
Just a Job?

George Cheney (Contributor Webpage)

Daniel J. Lair

Dean Ritz

Brenden E. Kendall

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores deeply how our common ways of speaking about ethics distract us from a more integrative vision of ethics in our lives. The chapter introduces three problems with how we typically approach ethics, as revealed in our language: compartmentalization, or putting ethics in a box; “essentialization,” or trying to reduce or crystallize ethics in terms of one thing or simple answers; and abstraction, or creating distance (or alienation) between ethical concerns and everyday practices. The chapter then explains seven common dimensions cutting across various understandings of ethics, in order to illustrate just what we mean by “ethics” when we speak about it in a particular way. These dimensions include agency and autonomy, discrimination and choice, motive and purpose, responsibility and relationship, rationality and emotionality, role and identity, and scene and situation. The discussion invokes traditional ethical theories to show how they tend to emphasize certain features over others. This chapter concludes by arguing how Aristotle's idea of eudaimonia, or flourishing, helps bring together reframed notions of virtue with our most cherished life goals.

Keywords:   Agency, Conversation, Decision, Ethical and moral theory, Myth, Narrative, Professionalism, Relationship, Responsibility, Rhetoric

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