Taking Action as Writers

It is always important for writers to feel in control of and morally confident in their writings. Care ethics can be applied in the professional world by empowering writers to be advocates for equality and empathy when presented with something that doesn’t have the readers’ best interests in mind—caring for their readers’ needs and emotions. Often writers feel they don’t have a say in the writing process and that they are just supposed to write what they are told, but when writers apply care ethics theory to their work they find it is their moral duty (via attentiveness and responsibility) to be active participants in ensuring care ethics are applied to the text and that the customers’ needs precede the company’s wants. By including care-focused guidelines in a communication’s approach, a writer can create an email/document/brochure/etc. that is customer focused and solves the dilemma of how to apply care ethics on a more global scale.

Brenda Sims provides a great example that uses a care ethics approach in her article Linking ethics and language in the technical communication classroom. She presents the situation of an engineer an technical communicator writing a report on airbags that only had 60% inflate fully in the final test. The writer and company could advertise that all the airbags inflated, none of the airbags failed to inflate, or that only 60% of the airbags fully inflated. While none of the options are technically incorrect, only the last option has consumers’ best interest in mind—who also happens to be the person closest to the issue and therefore, according to care ethics, should have the most consideration. So, if the writer, engineer, and company were following care ethics values and had the Tronto’s four principles of care ethics in mind, they would know that the only ethical option they have is the last choice.

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