Ethics Questions

From featured speaker, Blake Scott

I position my work in the rhetorics of health and medicine, a scholarly domain concerned with the rhetorical analysis of and engagement with health-related communication and its contexts. Rhetoricians in this area examine how health-related discourse is produced, interfaced, interpreted, and used, and to what effects; we also study the relationships and interactions among various “actors”—including embodied subjects, diseases, texts, technologies, institutions, socio-cultural networks, and material environments—in these processes.

  • How might we define ethics as a rhetorical process? How can rhetoric inform the principles and practices of bioethics?
  • If we define methodology as involving the three dimensions of ideology, methods, and practices (as in Sullivan and Porter’s Opening Spaces), what types of ethical questions does each dimension raise?
  • How might we “triangulate” our work to account for and attend to the ethical obligations, ideals, and consequences (three ways of approaching ethical principles) involved in health or medical communication?
  • What are the ethical stakes of our research? To what degree do rhetoricians of health and medicine have an obligation to pursue ameliorative aims with our research, particularly if this research clearly points to possibilities for beneficial rhetorical intervention?
  • What values guide our research goals and practices? How might we acknowledge these and open ourselves up to deliberation about them? How might we negotiate conflicting values in sponsored and/or collaborative research?
  • How might we track the ethical frameworks used by different stakeholders as they encounter and negotiate health discourses within and across contexts, including digital environments?
  • On what rhetorical theory and techne might we draw to engage the stakeholders and audiences of our research ethically? To work toward a mutually defined and reciprocally beneficial process of rhetorical inquiry?
  • What are the affordances and limitations of Foucault’s concept of “biopower” in studying the ethical dimension of health discourses promoting personal and institutional health care management?

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