The Ethics of Documents in Relationships: The United Church of Canada and Its Reconciliation Documents(2019)
Introduction. Documents may play an important ethical role in relationships in the absence of face-to-face contact. The field of information science’s focus on information and knowledge is not able to support the ethical dimensions of understanding that are necessary to consider this role. A hermeneutic approach to understanding may offer the field a way to reconsider understanding.
Method. I conduct a literature review on the concepts of aboutness and understanding in information science and compare this to ethical understanding in Levinas and Gadamer. I read this conversation against a case study of documents created by the United Church of Canada as part of its reconciliation efforts with Indigenous people.
Analysis. My archival research places the case study in public and historical context. A hermeneutic reading of the case study provides clues as to how ethical relationships to the other may occur on the documents’ own terms.
Results. The United Church of Canada’s documents cannot initiate an ethical relationship to the Indigenous other because they do not offer an experience of the other’s whole complexity. However, the documents allow a different kind of ethical response wherein readers become aware of their own limitations in relationship to the other.
Conclusion. Documents have the potential to increase ethical understanding. Studies of ethics and documents offer a more complete picture of how documents function in people’s lives.
Citation InformationMartin I Nord. "The Ethics of Documents in Relationships: The United Church of Canada and Its Reconciliation Documents" (2019)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/martin_nord/5/