Ethics Of Communicating: Insights from Aristotle

The field of climate change communication (CCC) has recently emerged to address the gap between scientific knowledge of climate change and public motivation to respond. Psychologists in this field have offered helpful strategies for improving the effectiveness of CCC, but their empirical research tends to neglect the ethics of CCC.

Professor Melissa Lane of the Department of Politics at Princeton University looks to fill the gap in the field of climate change communication by recovering insights from Aristotle’s Rhetoric. By situating communication within an ethical relationship between speaker and auditor, emphasizing the agency and judgment of auditors, and highlighting ways to build trust, Aristotle offers an art of rhetoric that can help climate scientists communicate both ethically and effectively, and that more generally provides insights as to the relationship between expertise and democracy.


00:00   Introduction and Welcome to Country – David Schlosberg
05:50   What the Ancients Can Teach Us About Ethics, Virtue and Sustainable Living – Melissa Lane
50:10   Relationship Between Politics and Rhetoric – Duncan Iveson
1:01:05 Politics Neglecting Science
1:12:00 How Could Ethics Transform Communication?
1:14:45 Communicating Existential Risk
1:21:05 How Can We Standup Against Unethical Communication?
1:26:15 Whose Responsibility is it to Communicate Climate Change?


Professor Melissa Lane (Keynote), Princeton University
Professor Duncan Ivison, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), University of Sydney
Professor David Schlosberg (Chair), Sydney Environment Institute

This Sydney Ideas and Sydney Environment Institute event for the Sydney Science Festival was held at the University of Sydney on Wednesday 19 August, 2015.

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