Ethics, Communication, and Propaganda About Energetic and Environmental Topics
American Journal of Energy Engineering
Volume 3, Issue 6, November 2015, Pages: 78-85
Received: Sep. 23, 2015;
Accepted: Oct. 13, 2015;
Published: Oct. 27, 2015
Views 4293 Downloads 108
Francesca Marin, Department of Philosophy, Sociology, Education and Applied Psychology (FISPPA), University of Padua, Padua, Italy
Alberto Mirandola, Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Padua, Padua, Italy
Follow on us
This paper aims at disentangling and explaining the meaning of communication, which should not be confused with the mere transmission of information. The focus will be put on scientific and technological communication, mainly in the field of energetic and environmental topics. Communication is a profession practiced by speakers and writers working within the mass media (newspapers, television, internet, etc.), but other people are involved in communication issues, particularly when communication deals with scientific and technological topics. Scientists, technicians and professionals, and engineers in particular, have a great responsibility when participating in the spread of technical information, which should not be confused with propaganda, whose meaning is explained in the paper. The paper will be developed in two stages. Firstly, by offering a conceptual framework, it will be argued that communication, rightly understood, is a special kind of action that is characterized by an ethical commitment, which should permeate our daily life, in particular the professional experience. On the contrary, propaganda cannot constitute an authentic communicative context because it involves senders and receivers, and not interlocutors. Indeed, propaganda generally aims at influencing opinions, attitudes and actions of a specific target audience on the basis of senders’ personal interest or ideological thinking. Secondly, practical examples will be provided in the scientific and technical fields, with particular attention given to energetic and environmental issues. In fact, this is a critical context, because people are generally not prepared to deeply understand this matter and can easily be manipulated. Some examples will show how a given reality can be partially presented or misrepresented when speaking about the concept of sustainability, the evaluation of health or safety risks, the assessment of the potentiality of renewable energy sources, the difference between energy sources and energy carriers, the interpretation of climate changes, or the ideological opposition to industrial initiatives.
Communication, Information, Ethics, Propaganda, Technical Writing, Media, Public Perception, News
To cite this article
Ethics, Communication, and Propaganda About Energetic and Environmental Topics, American Journal of Energy Engineering.
Vol. 3, No. 6,
2015, pp. 78-85.
Copyright © 2015 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Code of Ethics of Engineers, June 10, 1998 (http://web.mit.edu/2.009/www/resources/mediaAndArticles/ASME_ethics.pdf).
Austin, J.L. (1962), How to Do Things with Words, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Behringer, W. (2007), Kulturgeschichte des Klimas. Von der Eiszeit zur globalen Erwärmung 5, aktualisierte Auflage, C.H. Beck, München (English Translation: A Cultural History of Climate, Polity Press, London 2009; Italian translation: Storia culturale del clima, Bollati-Boringhieri, Torino 2013).
Brunello, A.R. (2014), A Moral Compass and Modern Propaganda? Charting Ethical and Political Discourse. Review of History and Political Science, Vol. 2, Issue 2, pp. 169-197.
Donald Moon, J. (1995), Practical Discourse and Communicative Ethics, in S.K. White (ed. by), The Cambridge Companion to Habermas, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 143-164.
European Commission, First Report on the Harmonisation of Risk Assessment Procedures, 26-27 October 2000 (http://ec.europa.eu).
Fabris, A. (2006), Etica della comunicazione, Carocci, Roma.
Fred Singer, S. (2008), Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate; Report of the NIPCC, The Heartland Institute, Chicago. (https://www.heartland.org/sites/all/modules/custom/heartland_migration/files/pdfs/22835.pdf).
Habermas, J. (1984), The Theory of Communicative Action 1. Reason and the Rationalization of Society, Polity Press, Cambridge.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): Assessment Reports AR1 (1990), AR2 (1995), AR3 (2001), AR4 (2007), AR5 (2013).
Jowett, G.S., and O'Donnell, V. (20156), Propaganda & Persuasion, SAGE Publications, Singapore.
Peters, J.D. (1999), Speaking into the Air: A History of the Idea of Communication, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Rehg, W. (2011), Discourse Ethics, in B. Fultner (ed. by), Jürgen Habermas: Key Concepts, Acument, Durham, pp. 115-139.
Scafetta N., Climate Change and Its Causes. A Discussion about some Key Issues, Science & Public Policy Institute, March 18 2000. http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/climate_change_cause.pdf.