Discourse Ethics:
Discourse ethics, often referred to, as argumentation ethics is a normative framework that is suitable for employment when deliberating on the moral troubles that emerge in a pluralistic environment. This theory recognizes that within any environment populated with individuals conflicting moral values will exist, and may potentially clash ;[1] this framework enables individuals involved to develop a moral theory that will satisfy the needs of everyone involved.

Discourse ethics does not prescribe what is ethical;[2] rather it offers a procedure for developing ethical norms within an environment through reasoned communication between participants.[3] Discourse ethics allows those involved to get closer to ideal ethical communication[4] and allows participants to make decisions in a way that satisfies the objections of all people affected by the given decision.[5] Ethical discourse concerns the realization of individual and collective identity,[6] in order to come to a conclusion that caters to the needs of everyone involved.

Discourse ethics is a communication-centered moral framework, which can be employed by a group of individuals or by organizations to develop and challenge ethical standards.[7] The rightness of a norm is established through active communication between willing participants who are responsible to claim its relation to other recognizably ethical norms.[8] In truly ethical discourse, those involved are fully aware, and considerate of the others viewpoints, perspectives and interpretations.[9] This ethical theory may assist in the understanding of social, legal, and political developments ,[10] and has a valuable potential for organizational ethics.[11]

German philosopher, Jurgen Hubermas, first proposed the theory of discourse ethics. Hubermas developed discourse ethics out of his theory of communicative action, which focuses on how individuals form social coordination by acting and communicating within the world ,[12] mobilizing their own rationale with ordinary language to come to a motivated agreement.[13] Hubermas took a unique interest in language, specifically as a medium for coordinating action or as a device to reach understanding between individuals.[14] This particular framework is Hubermas’s attempt to explain the constructive results that can be achieved through communicative rationality among a group of rational individuals.

Hubermas’s theory of ethical discourse stems from his revision of fellow German philosopher, Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative, which Hubermas viewed as an overly individualistic and tactical theory to use as a basis for making moral judgments.[15] Hubermas believed that all moral norms must be publicly defendable, and that no one person should decide on ethical norms for an entire group of individuals that will be affected. This belief lead to the inception of Hubermas’s principle of universalism, which informs us that it is crucial for all parties involved to engage in the exchange.[16] This principle regulates the discursive justification of ethical norms within a group, by requiring that they be accepted by all people affected, not only the dominant leaders.[17] Hubermas focused on developing a theory in which specific ethical judgments would involve movement between both universal and local levels.[18]

Three Principles of Discourse Ethics

  • Principle One: A principle of universalization serves as a rule of argumentation which assumes that everyone involved in the discourse is rational, and is able to reach the same judgment while accepting the consequences and side effects that may arise, for satisfaction of all affected individuals interests.[19]
  • Principle Two: Only norms that are considered moral by everyone affected by, and involved in the discourse will be assumed valid.[20]
  • Principle Three: Consequences of ethical discourse can only be achieved if all participants participate willingly and accept the possible side effects.[21]

  1. ^ Stansbury, J. (2009). Reasoned moral agreement: Applying discourse ethics within organizations. Business ethics quarterly, 19(1), 33-56.
  2. ^ Meisenbach, R. J. (2006). Habermas's discourse ethics and principle of universalization as a moral framework for organizational communication. Management communication quarterly, 20(1), 39-62.
  3. ^ Meisenbach, R. J. (2006).
  4. ^ Meisenbach, R. J. (2006).
  5. ^ Stansbury, J. (2009).
  6. ^ Murphey III, T. F. (1994). Discourse ethics: Moral theory or political ethic? New German critique, 111-136.
  7. ^ Meisenbach, R. J. (2006).
  8. ^ Stansbury, J. (2009).
  9. ^ Cavalier, R. (1996). Introduction to Habermas's discourse ethics. Retrieved on October 20, 2009 from http://www.unh.edu/democracy/pdf/repository/cavalier_introduction-to-habermas.pd
  10. ^ Murphey III, T. F. (1994).
  11. ^ Meisenbach, R. J. (2006).
  12. ^ Meisenbach, R. J. (2006).
  13. ^ Bohman, J. (2007). Jurgen Habermas. Retrieved October 19, 2009 from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/habermas/.
  14. ^ Bohman, J. (2007).
  15. ^ Meisenbach, R. J. (2006).
  16. ^ Meisenbach, R. J. (2006).
  17. ^ Stansbury, J. (2009).
  18. ^ Meisenbach, R. J. (2006).
  19. ^ Cavalier, R. (1996).
  20. ^ Cavalier, R. (1996).
  21. ^ Cavalier, R. (1996).