Melissa Cook

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 2005


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Communication and Rhetorical Studies


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Ronald C. Arnett

Committee Member

Kathleen Glenister Roberts

Committee Member

Richard H. Thames


Alasdair Macintyre, Communication Ethics, Philosophy of Communication


Creating a praxis model for performing communication ethics scholarship is important in Postmodernity, as a multiplicity of narratives requires knowledgeable life-long learners who are willing to understand historicity and one's place within traditions. This study relies on Alasdair MacIntyre's seminal work, A Short History of Ethics, as it provides an historical lineage of Western philosophers who wrote about ethics within the time span from ancient Greece, to modern day. Major metaphors are extracted from the works of these philosophers as guiding hermeneutical entrances into historical and temporally bound narratives, used as the praxis portion of this work. Narratives, epics and poetry, including Homer's Odyssey, Dante's Inferno, Voltaire's Candide, and Albert Camus's The Plague, are used as praxis examples for communication ethics. Through the works of these scholars, authors, and poets, a philosophical discussion ensues on communication ethics bound within the historicity of Ancient Greece, Medieval Christianity, the Enlightenment and Modernity. This work identifies various rhetorical interruptions experienced by those societies within Western thought and the effect on communities, religious institutions, and governments.

Throughout this work, historicity is understood through the use of novels as they relate to the philosophy of communication ethics set within historical traditions. Through stories, one can find the ground on which to stand in the 21st century, and ethically communicate with others in Postmodernity. MacIntyre suggests that the exercise of virtues will allow one to join in a tradition or continue within a tradition in which one is already embedded. Communication ethics is part of the dialogue that develops within societies and needs to be understood within the stories and narratives of Postmodernity.