Issue 14
Monday, 28 August 2017
Charles Darwin University
Economics senior lecturer Dr Ram Vemuri, co-author of “The Ethics of Silence”
Economics senior lecturer Dr Ram Vemuri, co-author of “The Ethics of Silence”

Silence still golden in today’s noisy world

By Patrick Nelson

Silence is an important and powerful element in decision-making, a Charles Darwin University academic says in a new co-authored book that explores the issue from a variety of angles.

Associate Professor Ram Vemuri, of the School of Business, said the just-published book “The Ethics of Silence” examined how silence has been interpreted and managed by individuals, families and societies from various cultures in an ever-noisier world.

“The book grew out of concerns relating to the ethical issues that affect decision-making around the world,” Dr Vemuri said.

“We ask how is silence used in the decision-making process, what its implications are, and most importantly, how can the various aspects of silence be reimagined to promote social change?”

While Dr Vemuri brings an economist’s perspective, the text also draws on the view of a philosopher (Dr Nancy Billias, University of St Joseph), and expertise from practitioners from different lines of work to present a rich understanding of its impact and significance.

“Silence means different things to different people. It is not just the lack of an auditory signal; it is a complex phenomenon that permeates all contexts and situations, even if many of us do not realise its existence or influence,” Dr Vemuri said.

“The consequences of silence for individuals might take the shape of depression, resentment or anger, which may manifest as domestic violence, self-harm or in a family break-up.

“On a societal level, better management of silence may prevent the eruptions of frustration that lead to aggression, violence and even terrorism. An example of the opposite of silence is the final scream of the suicide bomber.”

Dr Vemuri said the ethical quality of decision-making would improve if greater attention was paid to silence.

“We argue that better management of silence is an ethical and helpful way forward.”

“The Ethics of Silence: An Interdisciplinary Case Analysis Approach” by Dr Nancy Billias and Dr Sivaram Vemuri (Palgrave Macmillan) is available at W: