Ethics and Technical Communication: A Case for Foundational Approaches

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The study of ethics is important for technical communication students and professionals because as workers and as citizens they confront ethical dilemmas and must act. The article describes and contrasts several foundational and nonfoundational ethical approaches. Analyzing two well known ethics cases from the perspective of the different approaches, it is argued that although foundational approaches are limited, they provide better insights than do nonfoundational approaches. Finally, the article describes a problem solving technique, based on foundational approaches and communicative ethics, that can be used by technical communication students and professionals to analyze ethical dilemmas