Autonomy and Manipulation: Refining the Argument Against Persuasive Advertising

Journal of Business Ethics:1-11 (forthcoming)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
Critics of persuasive advertising argue that it undermines the autonomy of consumers by manipulating their desires in morally problematic ways. My aim is this paper is to refine that argument by employing a conception of autonomy that is not at odds with certain forms of manipulation. I argue that the charge of manipulation is not sufficient for condemning persuasive advertising. On my view, manipulation of an agent’s desires through advertising is justifiable in cases where the agent accepts the process through which the desires were developed. I show how the standard manipulation objection proves too much as it would also condemn cases of that kind. I argue that this distinction is especially important when we consider the implications of “new media.” In addition to increasing vulnerability to manipulation, new media have considerable impacts on well-being. By siding with the traditional autonomy argument, we would be compelled to take an implausible stand against all forms of manipulation through advertising, but I suggest that only a proper subset of those cases are morally problematic. This conclusion opens up a space for persuasive advertising that is permissible while nevertheless condemning cases that violate consumers’ autonomy.
Categories
(categorize this paper)
PhilPapers/Archive ID
AYLAAM
Upload history
First archival date: 2021-02-14
Latest version: 2 (2021-02-14)
View other versions
Added to PP index
2020-07-28

Total views
86 ( #44,171 of 2,432,439 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
53 ( #13,851 of 2,432,439 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.