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Rhetoric and Ethics

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Rhetoric and Ethics Assignment
"The Ethic of Expediency" by Steven B. Katz discusses the ethical problems of technical writing. The author suggest that the ethic of expediency enables deliberative rhetoric and gives impulse to most of our actions in technological capitalism. Katz explains that the problem with deliberative rhetoric and technical communication is epistemology and ethics. He uses a Nazi memo as a technical writing sample, which embodies the rhetoric and ethos of the Nazi Party but fails to take any account for ethics. He also uses Aristotle's Politic and Rhetoric to make the connection between rhetoric, ethics, technology, and expediency. Katz concludes that the deliberative orators aim is utility, to determine means to ends- a question of expediency. Aristotle believed that practical wisdom must be accompanied by moral virtue to supply the right end. Hitler used Aristotle’s work to form the ethos in Nazi Germany. However, with Hitler, there was no distinction between "practical wisdom" and "moral virtue", between expediency and the good as long as rhetoric serves its end, that is, the State. His belief in the efficacy of science and technology as the basis of ethics and politics resulted in mass extermination. Based on the ethic of expediency, rhetoric for Hitler was pure technique, designed not to encourage debate, but rather to indoctrinate. Hitler created an ethos of expediency to carry out his program for the “greater good” of Germany. Katz believes that to some extent, technological, economical expediency is the “moral” basis of many decisions in our society that sometimes harm human welfare. The ethic of expediency that provides the moral base of deliberative discourse used to make decisions, weigh consequences, and argue results in every department of society, also resulted in the holocaust. Katz concludes that in light of the holocaust, we should question whether expediency should be the primary ethical standard in deliberative discourse.
The author, Steven Katz, uses the extreme example of the Nazi Germany memo not to bring up the Holocaust, but to show that the role of ethics is inexistent and must be considered. His deliberative and technical rhetoric provide a thorough background and analysis of rhetoric, expediency, and ethics. For example, Katz uses one and half pages to provide in-depth analysis on rhetoric as social action involving a practical wisdom. It is through this elaborate breakdown that the author is able to connect the Nazi ethos with the ethic of expediency. Many times throughout the article does Katz go to great lengths to effectively dissect each piece of information.
Victor Villanueva's "On the Rhetoric and Precedents of Racism" use of sources, from historical passages providing the origins of racism to situations from his own experience illuminating current racism, show that while segregation may have dissipated, racism is still very prevalent today. Villanueva first uses a passage from an encounter between a Spanish Missionary and Incan philosophers. This early example shares the same themes from Villanueva's own experience- a belief in something other than which is accepted by a particular group will not be respected by that group. The Incan philosophers were well aware what the Spanish Missionary thought of their gods as depicted by this exert of dialogue, “are we now to destroy the ancient norms of our life? … We refuse to be tranquil or to believe as truth what you say; even if this offends you." Villanueva uses this passage among others to substantiate his belief that there are attitudes from those we have revered over the centuries which we inherit. The lack of multiculturalism present today conveys the importance of breaking away from the colonial discourse that resulted in the first acts of racism in the New World.
Both of the articles use historical dialogues and memos to ultimately make their point on reform. For Katz, he used the Nazi memo to show that ethics must be considered in technical writing and that we should teach the whole panoply of ethics in deliberative discourse in our rhetoric and writing courses. For Villanueva, he used the Spanish missionary and Incan philosopher dialogue to convey that the concepts of other cultures should not be ignored. Villanueva had more a personal tone as he eluded to his own personal experiences with racism. Where Katz was more technical in nature demonstrated by his deliberate argument analysis. Ultimately, both articles present a strong belief that what was historically accepted and what still is accepted today must be seriously reconsidered. The article by Time Magazine on New York’s stop and frisk law provide a clear example how present day rhetoric is used to validate a violation of privacy and ethics. The NYPD’s compensation rewarding those who stop and frisk more than others providing an unethical incentive to violate constitutional rights. For many years, the NYPD substantiated their claim of the effectiveness of the law with an increase drop in violate crime. However, what they failed to understand is that of those who were subject to the stop and frisk law were overwhelmingly black or Hispanic. Repealing of the law gives citizens, especially African Americans and Latinos, back their rights of the 4th and 14th amendments. The use of rhetoric and technical communication to essentially dehumanize those who were adversely affected (the Jewish, Hispanic, African American, and Incan) shows numerous ethical problems which represent a regression of equality and unity. Over and over again, ethics have become lost in the ethos, lost in the apparent improvement of crime, lost in the displacement of an entire civilization. Whether it is the Nazi memo given a pass because of the demonstrative ethos Hitler created, or the abuse of laws that validate the discrimination of certain ethnicities, the absence of ethics in technical communication creates an amoral treatment of others. The existence of ethics in rhetoric and technical communication will help displace the malicious treatment and persecution that the Jewish, Hispanic, African American, and Incan have received.

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