Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 139, Issue 3, pp 619–631 | Cite as

Voicing Moral Concerns: Yes, But How? The Use of Socratic Dialogue Methodology

  • Johannes Brinkmann
  • Beate Lindemann
  • Ronald R. Sims


After a selective review of relevant literature about teaching business ethics, this paper builds on a summary of Fred Bird’s thoughts about the voicing of moral concerns provided in his book about moral muteness (Bird in The muted conscience, 1996). Socratic dialogue methodology (in the tradition of L. Nelson and G. Heckmann) is then presented and the use of this methodology is examined, for business ethics teaching in general, and for addressing our paper topic in particular. Three short form Socratic dialogues about the paper topic are summarized for illustration, together with preparation and debriefing suggestions for a Socratic dialogue unit as part of a business ethics course. In conclusion, Socratic dialogue design is related to the experiential learning approach, and characterized by a few basic traits, which imply both risks and opportunities for business ethics teaching.


Socratic dialogue Moral concern Moral silence Voicing 



An earlier version of this article has been presented by the first authors JB and BL at the 2014 EBEN Annual Conference in Berlin, June 2014.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johannes Brinkmann
    • 1
  • Beate Lindemann
    • 2
  • Ronald R. Sims
    • 3
  1. 1.BI Norwegian Business SchoolOsloNorway
  2. 2.The Arctic University of NorwayTromsøNorway
  3. 3.College of William and MaryWilliamsburgUSA

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