Ethics of Intercultural Writing McCool Chapter 5
What Is Ethics? Ethics have to do with morality – concepts of right and wrong Concepts of what is ethical and how to behave ethically differ across cultures or groups of individuals Ethics is a branch of philosophy dealing with the morality of actions, motives, and end results
How Do We Compare Cultures? It is natural to classify things or to create binaries (good and bad, right and wrong) Harmonious binary – sees how the two “opposites” interrelate Ethnocentrism – idea in the superiority of one’s own culture An important thing to keep in mind when communicating with other cultures: It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just different!
Reader & Writer Responsibility What are some of the main differences? Sometimes expectations of the reader clash with the style of the writer Writer responsible authors may come across as providing insufficient context, being insulting, unprofessional, or pointless Reader responsible authors may come across as irrelevant, unfocused, unprofessional, or dogmatic
Deductive Reasoning Foundation of Western logic One argument is explicitly connected to the next Not all deductive reasoning results in truth. One must accept both premises to accept the conclusion. Example: All dogs bark. Rex is a dog, therefore Rex barks. Students are not allowed to use the printer. Sara is a student. Sara may not use the printer. The success or failure of the economy is the president’s sole responsibility. Barack Obama is the president. Therefore, Obama only is responsible for the state of the economy.
Inductive Reasoning Movement from the specific to the general Uses lots of examples to prove a main point The conclusion is probable, not definite Statistics and repeated observations work as inductive reasoning Example: Basel barks. Shuun barks. Jimminy barks. Basel, Shuun, and Jimminy are all dogs. Therefore, all dogs (seem to) bark.
Logical Fallacies Logic as a science – rigor, reason, rationality Logic as an art – not always rigorous or rational Flexibility Uncertainty Fallacies “reflect deep cultural values and beliefs”
Hypothetical Syllogism A kind of deductive reasoning based on hypothetical situations Imitates writer responsible organization strategy of parallel progression May seem repetitive for reader responsible readers
Equivocation When a term has more than one meaning and can lead to ambiguity Attempting to connect two things that are not connected, often by using the “other” meaning of the word Example p. 108 People who speak different languages may not understand the multiple meanings of a word
Using and Abusing Tradition Balance between reason and tradition is important in intercultural writing “Using tradition to make and support a claim is not the same thing as making a clear and reasoned argument” (110). It is also important not to completely dismiss the cultural traditions of your readers.
Democratic Fallacy Also called ad populum Claim made on the basis of popular opinion Based mostly on emotion Beliefs across large groups of people do not necessarily make them true Consider stereotypes
Abuse of Expertise Using one’s status to make a claim that is not based on reason Using position instead of proof to make a claim “Expertise does not guarantee truth” (114). Remember that it doesn’t always feel natural to question authority Power distance
Quantifying Quality “Artists describe the world and scientists count the world” (115). Emphasis on numbers and empirical data – low uncertainty avoidance cultures Not all things can be quantified and trying to do so is problematic Excessive use of empirical data can be seen as suspicious or unnecessary
Cause and Effect False cause is when one thing is assumed to cause the other, but there is no causal relationship Think of many superstitions: I wore my lucky socks to the game; therefore, we won. Writer responsible cultures are more inclined to search for causes
Appeal to Pity Feelings of sorrow (but not necessarily sympathy) for another person’s misfortune Using pity to argue a point can be manipulative Group-oriented cultures tend to use appeals to pity more often Such appeals can show a submission to authority
Appeal to Flattery Deflecting attention from the issue by focusing on a positive aspect of the audience Eastern cultures appeal to the authority and expertise of the person they are trying to persuade Western readers may feel embarrassed or that the writer is being insincere and manipulative
Affirming the Consequent Assuming that an if, then statement can go both ways All dogs are mammals. This is a mammal. Therefore, this is a dog. BUT all mammals are not dogs. May not be a troubling fallacy for some Eastern cultures.