Books -- Public Relations Ethics by Philip Seib and Kathy Fitzpatrick

Article excerpt

*Seib, Philip and Kathy Fitzpatrick (1995). Public Relations Ethics. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace & Co. 175 pp. Paperback $15,75.

The slim new book Public Relations Ethics by Philip Seib and Kathy Fitzpatrick has 175 pages and weighs just seven ounces. But it is no lightweight.

The heft of the little book comes from its practicality, its focus, its consideration of matters rarely considered in media ethics texts, and its potential for riveting the attention of public relations students on obviously relevant issues.

The book focuses on the necessity for individual public relations practitioners to evaluate their work methods and the consequences of wielding what the authors call "public relations power." It stresses what Seib and Fitzpatrick see as an unbreakable "link between an individual's ethical behavior and the professionalism of the entire field."

The authors provide compressed general explanations of ethical theory, limiting discussion to the most famous conclusions of Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, and Ralph Potter. They present the need for a system of ethical reasoning and offer as a model Potter's famous four-step problem-solving technique of ascertaining facts, identifying values, considering moral principles, and choosing loyalties.

Seib and Fitzpatrick discuss truth and social responsibility theory, but they give those and other standard textbook topics truncated consideration as compared, say, to the detail in popular general texts. …