Socratic dialogue as a tool for teaching business ethics

Journal of Business Ethics 53 (4):383-392 (2004)
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Within a supportive learning environment, dialogue can allow for the identification and testing of assumptions and tacit beliefs. It can also illustrate the inadequacies in superficial thinking about ethical problems. Internal dialogue allows us to examine our beliefs, and to prepare and evaluate arguments. Each of these elements is important in the study of business ethics. This paper outlines one teaching technique based on Socratic dialogue, and shows how it can be applied to develop business students' thinking about ethics. After justifying the suitability of this technique, and detailing its key elements, the paper offers for consideration an illustration of how the technique may be applied in a classroom setting, using structured role play. The paper concludes with a “teaching agenda”, offering suggestions for how this technique can be applied to teaching business ethics in an undergraduate, or postgraduate module, where it can examine language, structures and practices.



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