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Rhetoric and Ethics

Ronald C. Arnett

Subject Linguistics
Communication Studies » Rhetorical Studies

People Aristotle

Key-Topics ethics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


The field of communication has historical roots in the interplay of human speech and ethics (→  Communication as a Field and Discipline ). Our journals record scholarly investigation of communication ethics beginning in 1934 with Pellegrini's Quarterly Journal of Speech essay, “Public speaking and social obligations.” The founding scholarly work on speech and ethics is Aristotle's Nichomachean ethics . Aristotle's public descriptive account of Homer's narrative responsiveness to Athenian virtues in action establishes the enduring heart of communication ethics – responsiveness , commencing with responsiveness to the Athenian polis. Responsiveness is part of a long heritage begun with phronesis , practical wisdom attentive to the interplay of the demands of the situation and a given virtue of the polis, whose application falls to the side of neither excess nor deficiency. Centuries later, this sense of responsiveness continues to propel the communication field's commitment to democracy and the fight against →  propaganda spurred by World War II ( Wallace 1955 ). Today, this responsive tradition continues with Michael Hyde's call for communication ethics’ response to the emerging era of “post-human” genetic alteration. The communication field's responsiveness to →  audience and context acts as a line of demarcation between the rhetoric of communication ethics and the philosophical ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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