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 ... continued below

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Audrain, Susan Connor August 2005.

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  • Audrain, Susan Connor

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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.

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  • August 2005

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Feb. 15, 2008, 4:21 p.m.

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  • May 29, 2015, 6:24 p.m.

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Audrain, Susan Connor. Ethics in Technical Communication: Historical Context for the Human Radiation Experiments, dissertation, August 2005; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc4820/: accessed November 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .