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Ethics Paper

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Ethics Chapter 9 notes

Introduction: ethics of sale, advertising, and product placement

  • We will talk about both placement and promotion of products
  • One central issue is manipulation and its subset of deception
  • Manipulation is referred to process of subtle direction or management. Working behind the scenes, guiding their behaviour without their explicit consent or conscious understanding. Its is to seek to bypass their autonomy (have acted of our own accord).
  • One way we can manipulate someone is through deception which is an outright lie. The other way is without deception (mother making her sons to feel guilty about not carrying their family responsibilities or a teacher might pressure her students to study more by giving hints of a coming quiz or something else (examples of without deception)
  • The more the person knows about your psychology (motivations, interests, desires) the better the manipulation of the behavior would be.
  • Marketers for used cars and high interest credit cards and loans rely on many of these factors to promote their products. Knowing such things about another person provides effective tools for manipulating their behaviour.
  • Critics charge that many marketing practises manipulate consumers, many advertisements are deceptive and some are outright lies.
  • Critics charge that some marketing practises target populations that are particularly susceptible to manipulation and deception.
  • All cases of manipulation are unethical.
  • The Kantian tradition has objections towards the manipulation. When treating someone as means to an end as an object rather than as an autonomous person in their own right. It is a paradigm of disrespect for persons since it bypasses their own rational decision making as it is unethically wrong to treat people as means to ourselves.
  • As for utilitarian tradition would offer more critique of manipulation. It tends to erode bonds of trust and respect between persons. Sales is good example where critics charge occurs in many sales practises which can undermine the very social practises which is thought to promote the as the reputation of sales lowered.
  • Examples forms of manipulation like cigarettes, insurance, pharmaceutical etc. on p.199
  •   Consumers with low credit ratings or no credit history should not be seeking creditor any high rates from businesses like mortgages and loans, but it does not exempt the financial institutions to target the risky consumers from responsibility.
  • Marketers are only ethically allowed to target direct mail for instance to consumers with matching criteria in the marketing practise. Marketing research seeks to learn something about psychology pf potential customers.

Regulating deceptive and unfair sales and advertising

  • Examples like hospitals recommend the aspirin free pain and the FTC are charged with regulating deceptive and unfair marketing practises.
  • Consumers are harmed by such deception when they end up purchasing a product that they might not otherwise have bought.
  • These commercial and economic harms are the result of the ethical harm of being manipulated and used as a means to another’s’ end. When a consumer is deceived then competitors get cheated out of the chance to compete fairly in the marketplace.
  • Any marketplace that is deceptive to a consumer is by that very fact unfair to competitors.
  • Protecting consumers from being cheated out of their money and protecting the integrity of fair competition in the marketplace are strong incentives for social sanctions against deception
  • As a consequence, one approach to regulating deception would target those marketing practises that are intended to deceive where affecting consumers, competitors and overall market.
  • A second approach to regulation emphasizes marketing practises that actually deceive consumers where focusing on the effect rather than intent of the practise.
  • FTC would need to evaluate the marketing practises in terms of expected deception where determining the intent by judging what can be reasonably expected to result from the practise.
  • Defenders argue that government would be more preferable to prevent deceptive practises through regulation rather wait until the harm is done to regulate.
  • Regulating marketing practises may be both strong and weak. It can be so strong where consumers might get deceived by many trivial marketing practises. Ivan Preston is an example on p. 202,
  • The actual deception standard might be too weak in the sense that it places the burden on consumers to take the initiative and come forth to prove the deception. Many consumers may never know that they have been deceived since a necessary condition for being deceived is that where one doesn’t know that one is being deceived.
  • Adopting a reasonable consumer standard seems most fair and well reasonable. It assumes the best about consumers and doesn’t hold marketers to extreme and difficult standards.
  • It might be better and most reasonable o apply different standards to different products, marketing practises or targeted markets.

Marketing ethics and consumer autonomy

  • Marketing can have direct and indirect influence on the very persons we became.
  • Critics of such claims either deny that marketing can have such influence or maintain that marketing is only a mirror of the culture of which it is a part.
  • Galbraith claimed that advertising and marketing were creating consumer demand that production then aimed to satisfy in his book “the affluent society”
  • Consumer demand depended upon what produces had to sell; first law of supply and demand where demand turns out to be a function of supply. Secondly, advertising and marketing tend to create irrational and trivial consumer wants and this distorts the entire economy. Taxpayers case example. Thirdly, by creating consumer wants, advertising and other practises were violating consumer autonomy.
  • The central element of Kantian respect for persons would be violated by the creation if wants. If consumers are being manipulated, then market exchanges would only appear to increase the overall satisfaction.
  • The law of supply and demand is reversed and the economy of the affluent society is contrived and distorted through advertising’s ability to create wants.
  • Advertising controls consumer behaviour in terms of controlling their choice. Psychological behaviourists and critics would totally agree with the claim stated. For example, some studies show that more than half of all new products introduced are failing where it showed that consumers are not controlled by marketing.
  • It is the concept of autonomous desires rather than autonomous behaviour. This means consumer autonomy is violated by advertising’s ability to create non- autonomous desires.
  • The clearest examples of non-autonomous are found in addictions like the alcohol addiction. This can be clarified through first order and second order desires. First desires are the wants that we want to happen at a given time. Second desires is asking questions like “ why do I want what I want? Do I rally want this?
  • We can say that an autonomous desire is one that one is not rejected upon rational reflection. The first wants orders that are consistent with and not denied by second order wants.
  • Robert Arrington argues that it dies not although he admits that there are some individual cases in which advertising might control behaviour or produce compulsive behaviour. He argues as well that marketing influences us by appealing to independent desires.
  • Two conditions for autonomy by dworki, the first is renouncing one’s desires is what calls authenticity. The first desire is authentic as long as there is no second order desire that repudiates it. An individual has to accept it or reflect upon the first order desires then it is nit an autonomous desire. Secondly, if there are no second order desires to reject something in my life where didn’t take the right amount to think about it.
  • Two conditions by both Dworkin and crisp, one is that consumer does not actually repudiate the purchase, secondly, consumers must have the capacity to critically reflect on the desire to accept it as their own.
  • What is marketing ethics role regarding the autonomy? First is that marketing is partially responsible for the inability of some consumers to step back and critically reflect in these desires. Secondly, some marketing practises seem to exploit consumers who lack the capacity for making full autonomous desires.
  • Lippke states that autonomy should be understood as long term capacity as a more a matter of a degree. All the intellectual skills are undermined and weakened by mass marketing and persuasive advertising.

Targeting the vulnerable: marketing and sales

  • Tow cases example on p.208
  • Two market strategies; one is that considered judgements that consumers have settled on over the course of their lives. Second, the second case seems offensive where creating fear and anxiety that many older people experience.
  • Examples and questions on p.209
  • There are two general senses of vulnerability that are relevant for the discussion of target marketing. One is consumers might not be able to participate fully as informative and voluntary participant in the market exchange. (consumer) Second sense is that the harm is other than the financial harm of an unsatisfactory market exchange. (general)
  • Consumer vulnerability occurs when a person has an impaired ability to make an informed consent to the market exchange.  
  • General vulnerability occurs when someone is susceptible to some specific physical, psychological or financial harm.
  • People become vulnerable as consumers because they are vulnerable in some general sense where making choices based on fear or guilt.
  • Marketing campaigns like ambulance chasing attorney seeking a client for personal injury lawsuit. Those campaigns target the elderly for such products as supplemental medical insurance, life insurance, emergency call devices, funeral services and insurance target the fears, anxiety and guilt.
  • Many other marketing product examples on p.211
  • Marketers cannot be held liable for decisions that any individual makes because any individual may choose not to buy the marketed product. It is difficult to attribute any direct casual connection between marketing campaign and individual consumer’s choice to buy a product.
  • The causal connection between the customer’s choice and the sales activity can be evaluated more directly than in a mass marketing. For example; if we discover a situation in which a sales person relies on appeals to fear or anxiety then we can only assume that this is intended to manipulate the person into a purchase.
  • Unlike general marketing activities, sales occur in what we might call a feedback situation, the salesperson can adjust the sales pitch accordingly where they are trained to do that.
  • The marketer might claim that any deception which is unintentional the marketing aims at general populations and any deception that occurs was an unintended consequence.



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