PR Ethics, Ch. 3

The topic of discussion is Ethics and Beliefs. We all believe different things, so who is to say what is right or wrong? Hopefully this post will help you evaluate what kind of a thinker you are in a professional situation.

What you believe in can and does most likely determine the way you act. Philosophers state that there are three basic categories in which individuals fall under.

  1. Absolute– The absolute believes that every decision is either “right” or “wrong,” regardless of the consequences. It is based on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant that the end cannot justify the means.
  2. Existential- The existentialist, whose choices are not made in a prescribed value system, which decides on the basis of immediate practical choice. This approach is somewhat grounded in Aristotle’s idea that individuals should seek a balance, or midpoint, between two extremes. In other words, Aristotle would disagree with Kant by saying, “never say never.”
  3. Situational– The situationalist believes that each decision is based on what would cause the least harm or the most good. This often is called the utilitarian approach. This concept was advanced by John Stuart Mill, who believed the end could justify the means as long as the result benefited the greatest number of people.

Another approach to ethics is simply and well-known as “The Golden Rule“- love your neighbor as yourself, or “treat others as you would like to be treated.”

Three principles that you should keep in mind that are essential from the IABC Code of Ethics are:

  • Professional communication is legal
  • Professional communication is ethical
  • Professional communication is in good taste

If you need more ethical or professional questions answered groups such as, PRSA, IABC, and IPRA may provide a code of conduct that has been published or have educational programs.

(Note: Information from this post was primarily found in the textbook for, Introduction to Public Relations course, Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics.) Wilcox, D.L., & Cameron, G.T. (2009) Boston: Allyn & Bacon.


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Filed under Class Notes Overview, PRCA 2330

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