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Larryon Truman

Ethical Credo
Dr. Chase
November 23, 2015

Ethical Credo
As a Communication major and International Relations Minor, I must view my
communication practices through the lenses of both disciplines and how messages are received
and interpreted. Communication interacts with people, tribes, languages, cultures, channels and
media of all kind. Questions of morals arise when differences in dynamics exist. Therefore, it is
important to have fundamental truths and beliefs to hold on to and guide my communication
practices.
In this essay I seek to accomplish three things. First, I will define what I believe ethical
decision making to be and identify three strategies for ethical decision making and
communication creation and how they relate to both of my disciplines. Second, I will highlight
three core values that will guide my communication practices. Last, I will list my ethical credo an
how it will guide my decision making and communication practices.
Ethical Decision Making
Ethics, according to Amstutz (p. 51), is defined as the identification, interpretation, and
application of moral principles to issues or problems. When I view ethical decision making and
its impacts on the international community, there are three strategies that can illuminate my
communication practices. These three strategies are: ends-based action; rules-based action;

and tridimensional ethical model. I will highlight the pros and cons of each and explain why I will
use a tridimensional approach to my communication practices.
The first strategy that Amstutz addresses is ends-based action better known as
consequentialism or teleological ethics. This first strategy assumes that the morality of an action
is judged by its outcome. Peter Berger, a sociologist from Austria, noted that when it comes to
politics, we get no moral Brownie points for good intentions; we will be judged by the results.
That is, actions that may involve questionable means or morally ambiguous goals may be
morally permissible if the outcomes are perceived as morally acceptable.
However, the danger with this strategy is of course to strictly view reality being defined as
results, and not by motives or means. That is, as long as the consequences or an end goal are
morally permissible, it matters not if the motives or means were good. This can be prove to be
problematic in our communication practices if we solely view them as ends-based.
On the other hand, we have rule-based action or a deontological perspective to ethical
decision making. Advocates for deontology claim that the inherent validity and moral rightness of
an action is what should be judged, regardless of outcome. In other words, it is the means or
intentions in which an action is taken that should be judged, not the outcome. This is a very
good way to view decision making and message creation, by the means. However, as a
communicator, arent we responsible for how the message is received as well?
This is why I advocate for a tridimensional model for ethical decision making.
Tridimensional ethical decision making is comprised of both ends-based and rules-based
actions. Ends-based analysis judges the act based off the consequences or outcomes and

rules-based judges morality of actions based of of intentions or goals. I believe that both the
goals/intentions and outcomes are important in ethical decision making and message creation.
The tridimensional model involves three elements: motives, means, and results. The
motives are the intentions behind and action. The means are how the decision was applied. The
results are the consequences as a result of said action. This model allows communication
practices to be weighted by the motives, or the why; the means, or the how; and the results.
Therefore, a sound ethical approach must assess each of these dimensions and weigh them
carefully.
Therefore, I will use a four-step process adapted by politicians and government officials
to make decisions ethically and morally permissible. This system, I believe, can be adapted into
my own communication practices. The four-step process in ethical decision making from a
tridimensional perspective goes as follows: (1) developing knowledge of and competence about
an issue or problem, (2) devising alternative strategies to address the particular concern, (3)
selecting the strategy that most likely will advance the desired goals, and (4) implementing the
chosen policy.
However, more important than identifying, interpreting, and all of the other steps in
making an ethical decision, the last is the most important. Thinking critically about our audience
as communicators is important. Crafting a thoughtful and provoking message is key. But
competence alone is not enough. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once observed, Actions springs not from
thought, but from a readiness for responsibility. In the end, morals and ethics must be translated

into action. How are we as Christian students educated in the liberal arts going to take this
responsibility and act accordingly? I propose four core values.

Guiding Core Values


The three values that will guide my communication practices are as follows:
Adherence to Truth
Comprehension and understanding of the other
Appropriate message creation
The first core value that I want to mention is that of an adherence to truth. Central
to this core value is that truth has power, and those in power must be discerning of that
knowledge and power. An adherence to truth is fundamental in sustaining genuine
relationships and communities.
In Exclusion and Embrace, Miroslav Volf says that truth sustains community and
lies destroy it. There is no doubt the morality in telling the truth is permissible. As
Christians, we are committed to speaking the Truth. However, the problem lies with
when to speak truth and when to hold ones tongue. There are situations when speaking
the truth can teleologically be problematic. The ends are may have morally ambiguous
consequences when always speaking the truth. Thus, I refer back to a tridimensional
perspective for decision making, considering all three variables.
Furthermore, the seeking of truth is core at what we do as communicators. I
believe that in order to responsibly craft messages, one has to fully investigate, analyze

and search for the truth. Often times, truth comes from relationship with others. A way
we seek truth is through intentional dialogue with those who are typically unheard or
unable to have a voice. In order to understand poverty or disease, for example, in the
Third World is to listen to those who have experienced it. Sandra Harding and Julia
Wood developed Standpoint theory which enables communicators to give a voice to
those who are marginalized. Through understanding others perspective and story we
are able to craft messages that are more effective to that demographic. Just as Tim
Keller observers in his Preaching, we need to affirm in order to challenge baseline
cultural narratives, as well as to push on the cultures pressure points. Inherent in his
book is the idea that one must understand and comprehend the culture that one is
ministering to.
Through the adherence of truth and being a faithful listener, we are able to
approach conversations with humility, respect, and patience. We are able to avoid falling
into the trap of ethnocentrism which is damaging and degrading. By allowing ourselves
to be open to the global and local community, we are able to experience the rich and
beautiful diversity of Gods world.
Second, I believe that a core value in communication practices is a
comprehension and understanding of messages, your audience, your surroundings,
culture, etc. If we are to truly be the hands and feet of God, and if we are to speak the

Truth and proclaim His name, then we must have a competent understanding of our
environment.
In my own personal practices of communication I want to highlight the specific
element of the person. Knowing the person you are communicating with is essential into
appropriate message creation. Braithwaite and Braithwaite reminds us that intercultural
communication doesn't just happen with people who differ from us demographically.
Rather we can apply those principles of intercultural communication with people who are
disabled, different cultures, ethnicity, age, race, economic class, etc.
I have taken numerous courses at Wheaton that I believe have prepared me for
this venture. My freshmen year, I took an introduction to sociology course that
highlighted the big picture of interpersonal networks and society as a whole. I took two
courses in youth ministry that focused on how to effectively minster to youth and
specifically youth with mental/emotional/spiritual pain. I took a human development
course that intersected psychology and ministry that focused on case studies and was
divided into various age groups. This course prepared me for communicating with
newborns all the way to the elderly. All of the aforementioned courses were ones I took
as electives or general education requirements. These did not even deal with my major
in Communication or minor in International Relations! There have been an over
abundant amount of courses in Communication that have prepared me for this task as

well. Communication Theory and Media Studies have especially prepared me in crafting
person-centered messages.
Third and most important to my communication practice is the creation of
appropriate messages. I do not mean appropriate message creation as opposed to
inappropriate or vulgar message creation. Rather, I refer to what Timothy Keller calls,
contextual communication. It means to resonate with yet defy the culture around you
(Keller, 99). If we are to communicate and reflect our allegiance to Jesus, then we must,
without a doubt, be confronting (in an appropriate way) the culture around us.
Thankfully, the Gospel equips us for this and it is powerful. The Gospel is also
offensive. Inherent within the Gospels message is the defiance of the worldly culture
around us, yet it is also able to bring us together. Just as Paul was able to adapt his
gospel preaching to the specific culture he was preaching to, we too, should be able to
create appropriate messages to our audiences. Central in Pauls teaching, however, is
his reason to convince his audience rather than prove them wrong. I hold this idea to be
key when crafting messages.
Ethical Credo
The following is my ethical credo. It is a list of statements that will be central to
my communication practices. I choose to have an ethical credo because ethical
communication enhances human worth and dignity by fostering positive values such as

truthfulness, responsibility, and respect for self and others. The framework for my ethical
decision making is a tridimensional model that takes into account goals, means, and
consequences. Core values that are central to my practices are an adherence to truth;
an understanding of the other; and appropriate message creation.

- Knowing that truth is power, I will, to the best of my ability, seek the truth and be
discerning and responsibly with the power it puts me in.
- I will have to be others-centered when handling sensitive information and mindful of
the consequences always speaking the truth can lead to.
- I will adhere to the truth, as an essential component to the integrity of communication
- I believe in freedom of speech and the enabling power it has for people to voice their
opinions.
- I will seek to understand and respect other communicators in order to effectively
respond to their own messages.
- I am committed to sharing Jesus and his love for the world through my
communication practices.
- I accept responsibility in poor decision making for the short and long term
consequences and damaging effects it may have on others.

Amstutz, Mark. International Ethics: Concepts, Theories, and Cases in Global Politics.
Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2013. Print
Berger, Peter, Moral Judgment and Political Action, Vital Speeches of the Day 54
(December 1, 1987): 179.
Braithwaite & Braithwaite. Which Is My Good Leg? : Cultural Communication of
Persons with Disabilities.
Keller, Timothy. Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism. Viking, 2015.
Print
Volf, Miroslav. Exclusion and Embrace. Nashville, Abingdon Press,1996. Print.