Resolving a moral conflict through discourse

Journal of Business Ethics 17 (2):177-194 (1998)
Plato claimed that morality exits to control conflict. Business people increasingly are called upon to resolve moral conflicts between various stakeholders who maintain opposing ethical positions or principles. Attempts to resolve these moral conflicts within business discussions may be exacerbated if disputants have different communicative styles. To better understand the communication process involved in attempts to resolve a moral dilemma, we investigate the "discourse ethics" procedure of Jürgen Habermas. Habermas claims that an individual's level of moral reasoning parallels the type of communication which that individual typically uses in attempts to resolve conflict. Our research focuses upon the relationship between the communicative style used by participants attempting to resolve a particular moral dilemma involving workplace safety and the level of moral reasoning possessed by those participants. The results of our study suggest that, contrary to Habermas' views, participants with "higher" levels of moral reasoning do not use "discursive" communicative tactics more frequently than participants that possessed "lower" moral reasoning.
Keywords Philosophy   Ethics   Business Education   Economic Growth   Management
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DOI 10.1023/A:1005792208264
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Jeffery D. Smith (2004). A Precis of a Communicative Theory of the Firm. Business Ethics: A European Review 13 (4):317-331.
E. Tsahuridu Eva (2006). Anomie and Ethics at Work. Journal of Business Ethics 69 (2):163-174.

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