DUE IN 4 HOURS
Please look over and answer the following set of questions from the Pearson Publishing text on Public Speaking. Then submit an essay answering the last two questions at the end of this exercise.
When Is Persuasion Unethical?
What’s ethical in public speaking? What’s unethical? Here are several situations that raise ethical issues. Respond to each situation with the following scale: A = ethical, B = not sure, and C = unethical.
_____ 1. In an Economics course you took at another school, you received a handout that very clearly explains the relationship of interest rates to stock prices, the very topic about which you’re going to give your speech. Would it be ethical to use this handout to support one of your propositions without saying where you got it or who prepared it and allow your audience to draw the conclusion that you prepared it yourself?
_____ 2. You read an op-ed article in a newspaper recently and thought the writer put the issue of homelessness into clear perspective. Since you’re going to give a speech on homelessness and you honestly agree with everything this person said (but just said it a lot better than you feel you could), would it be ethical for you to paraphrase this op-ed piece? You wouldn’t be using the writer’s exact words, you’d just use the ideas without mentioning where you got them.
_____ 3. You recently read an excellent summary of research on aging and memory in a magazine article. Would it be ethical to use this research and cite the original research studies but not mention that you got it from a summary in a popular magazine?
_____ 4. At another school you received a copy of a student speech that received an A+. You want to give your own speech, but you just don’t have the time and anyway this is a great speech and the class will profit from hearing it. In addition, you intend to give this speech a really great delivery. Would it be ethical for you to give this speech?
_____ 5. You’re giving a speech to elementary school children on the dangers of smoking pot. From your research, however, you don’t find the dramatic examples and startling statistics that you feel will convince these young children to stay away from pot. Since your aim is to achieve a good end, an end in which you firmly believe, would it be ethical to make up a few dramatic examples and allow the children to believe these are real cases of the problems that result from pot smoking? How about making up a few statistics to hammer the point home?
_____ 6. In a speech on false arrests, you develop this hypothetical story about a college student getting arrested and being held in custody unlawfully for several days. As you rehearse this story, you realize it would be a lot more convincing if the audience was allowed to think that this person was you. Would it be ethical to allow your audience to believe this incident happened to you? Actually, you wouldn’t be saying that it was you or that it wasn’t you; you’d just be allowing the audience to form their own conclusions.
_____ 7. You’re running against Pat Sanchez for student president. You’re pretty evenly matched and you need something to pull ahead. A friend tells you gossip that, if more widely known, would cost Pat the election, even though it has nothing to do with the qualifications for student body president. Would it be ethical for you to bring up this information in one of your speeches?
How did you do? Most public speaking textbooks would argue that all of these situations would be considered unethical, though some perhaps more unethical than others. The first four deal with plagiarism—using the words or ideas of another person as your own—a topic that is discussed in more detail in the ethical issue box in Unit 7. The remaining three deal with fabricating evidence, allowing the audience to believe what isn’t true, and dealing in personal attacks.
What will you do? What unifying thread runs through those situations you labeled “C”? Can you identify a general principle that would cover all the examples you labeled “C”? Do the “mitigating circumstances” contained in some of the situations influence your judgment as to what is or isn’t ethical?. Might any of the situations you labeled “C” ever be considered ethical? Did you label any situations “B”? If so, what is there about the situation that makes it difficult to label it as ethical or unethical?