Interpersonal Communication Ethics

Authored by: Sally Planalp , Julie Fitness

The Handbook of Communication Ethics

Print publication date:  December  2010
Online publication date:  January  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415994644
eBook ISBN: 9780203890400
Adobe ISBN: 9781135846671


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What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light.

(Elizabeth Alexander, “Praise Song for the Day,” U.S. Presidential inaugural poem, January 20, 2009) The need to treat others ethically is all too obvious in interpersonal relationships. The benefits are felt immediately in shared well-being and enjoyment, trust, mutual assistance, and dependably coordinated action. Breaches are also felt directly by experiencing the other’s disapproval, disappointment, hurt, righteous indignation, or alienation, but also by feeling one’s own regret, guilt, shame, or loneliness. The forces that shaped our emotional lives did not leave us inherently selfish, unjust, or otherwise oblivious to the concerns of others, especially when we interact with them face-to-face. Neither did they guarantee that what is good for the other and the relationship would triumph over what is good only for the self, hence the need for this discussion of ethics in interpersonal communication.

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