Decorum and Emergent Situational Ethics

This talk explores the nature of ethical communication in a context of distributed, kairotic agency. If ethics is conventionally assumed to be concerned with right and wrong actions in accord with a stable morality, then it is inherently predicated upon a coherent agent capable of (and culpable for) autonomous choice. This talk examines the nature of ethical rhetorical acts when the concepts of both a stable morality and an autonomous self become problematized, and agency becomes a contingent property emerging from a distributed network. To address this issue, this talk places the classical concept of decorum in conversation with current complexity theory to reframe rhetorical acts by shifting the focus of ethics from the autonomous individual to the complex rhetorical situation and by connecting ethical rhetorical acts with those that meet situated needs rather than those that act in accord with a transhistorical morality.