Ethics in Technical Communication: Historical Context for the Human Radiation Experiments

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Description:

To illustrate the intersection of ethical language and ethical frameworks within technical communication, this dissertation analyzes the history and documentation of the human radiation experiments of the 1940s through the 1970s. Research propositions included clarifying the link between medical documentation and technical communication by reviewing the literature that links the two disciplines from the ancient period to the present; establishing an appropriate historiography for the human radiation experiments by providing a context of the military, political, medical, and rhetorical milieu of the 1940s to the 1970s; closely examining and analyzing actual human radiation experiment documentation, including proposals, letters, memos, and consent forms, looking for established rhetorical constructions that indicate a document adheres to or diverts from specific ethical frameworks; and suggesting the importance of the human radiation documents for studying ethics in technical communication. Close rhetorical analysis of the documents included with this project reveals consistent patterns of metadiscourse, passive and nominal writing styles, and other rhetorical constructions, including negative language, redundancies, hedges, and intensifiers, that could lead a reader to misunderstand the writer's original ethical purpose. Ultimately this project finds that technical communicators cannot classify language itself as ethical or unethical; the language is simply the framework with which the experimenters construct their arguments and communicate their work. Technical communicators can, however, consider the ethical nature of behavior according to specific ethical frameworks and determine whether language contributes to the behavior.

Creator(s): Audrain, Susan Connor
Creation Date: August 2005
Partner(s):
UNT Libraries
Collection(s):
UNT Theses and Dissertations
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Total Uses: 364
Past 30 days: 3
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Publisher Info:
Publisher Name: University of North Texas
Place of Publication: Denton, Texas
Date(s):
  • Creation: August 2005
  • Digitized: February 12, 2008
Description:

To illustrate the intersection of ethical language and ethical frameworks within technical communication, this dissertation analyzes the history and documentation of the human radiation experiments of the 1940s through the 1970s. Research propositions included clarifying the link between medical documentation and technical communication by reviewing the literature that links the two disciplines from the ancient period to the present; establishing an appropriate historiography for the human radiation experiments by providing a context of the military, political, medical, and rhetorical milieu of the 1940s to the 1970s; closely examining and analyzing actual human radiation experiment documentation, including proposals, letters, memos, and consent forms, looking for established rhetorical constructions that indicate a document adheres to or diverts from specific ethical frameworks; and suggesting the importance of the human radiation documents for studying ethics in technical communication. Close rhetorical analysis of the documents included with this project reveals consistent patterns of metadiscourse, passive and nominal writing styles, and other rhetorical constructions, including negative language, redundancies, hedges, and intensifiers, that could lead a reader to misunderstand the writer's original ethical purpose. Ultimately this project finds that technical communicators cannot classify language itself as ethical or unethical; the language is simply the framework with which the experimenters construct their arguments and communicate their work. Technical communicators can, however, consider the ethical nature of behavior according to specific ethical frameworks and determine whether language contributes to the behavior.

Degree:
Level: Doctoral
Discipline: English
Language(s):
Subject(s):
Keyword(s): technical communication | human radiation experiments | ethics
Contributor(s):
Partner:
UNT Libraries
Collection:
UNT Theses and Dissertations
Identifier:
  • OCLC: 66912369 |
  • ARK: ark:/67531/metadc4820
Resource Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Format: Text
Rights:
Access: Use restricted to UNT Community
License: Copyright
Holder: Audrain, Susan Connor
Statement: Copyright is held by the author, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.