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Business and Professional Ethics Journal

Volume 30, Issue 3/4, 2011

Ghislain Deslandes, Kenneth Casler
Pages 307-330
DOI: 10.5840/bpej2011303/415

Indirect Communication and Business Ethics
Kierkegaardian Perspectives

By deliberately placing ethics under the category of communication, Kierkegaard intended to show that it is like no other science. He distinguished between direct communication and indirect communication. Direct communication concerns objectivity and knowledge; indirect communication, on the other hand, has to do with subjectivity (“becoming-subject”). In this paper, the author presents Kierkegaard’s philosophy of communication and ethics with special emphasis on his irony and pseudonymous authorship. He also examines the possibility of a discourse in business ethics, focusing on the educational perspective. He discusses Kierkegaard’s aspects of communication—the communicator, the receiver, and the object—with particular reference to applied ethics. He argues that the Kierkegaardian notion of indirect communication can contribute to renewing business ethics teaching—which in his view is more art than science—in two important ways: (1) when the ethics teacher changes his position in the teacher/learner relationship; and (2) when the relationship between communicator/receiver is strengthened at the expense of the object.