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Lecture 6

Week 6 - Mary Lyn Stoll.docx

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Western University
Philosophy 2730F/G
Ryan Robb

Stoll 11/13/2012 8:02:00 AM Stoll  Produces three different sets of principles that all support the same conclusion o Social contract, deontological and utilitarian  Multimedia corporations have an imperfect moral duty to promote a diversity of views in their programming, even if doing so comes at the expense of profits – this imperfect duty to promote these views ought to be explicitly stated in each media corporation’s mission statement o Media corporations have to work diversity into their business at the expense of profits, but how is unknown o Imperfect duty – a duty who’s content we can specify  Cases for consideration o  wished to air ads during the Superbowl that criticized the fiscal policies of the Bush administration  CBS refused the request, even though had the requisite funds to pay for the ad, on the grounds that politically charged ads were not appropriate during an event like the Superbowl  responded that this assertion was inconsistent, owing to the willingness of CBS to air an ad funded by the federal government o Disney  Disney refused to release Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 911 on the grounds that its political nature would alienate families that enjoyed Disney products  Moore maintains that this action was political, designed to appease the Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush then increasing Disney’s taxes  After Moore got a distribution deal, he sought to air his movie before the election on pay-per-view, In-Demand refused to air the special  Political Function o In order to assess the moral duties/responsibilities of the media corporations in these instances, we need to be aware the role such entities are supposed to play in the relevant democratic state  The ethical duties of the media come from what type of society they are in (democratic society = democratic duties) o Since a U.S. President does not have to defend their actions publicly (unlike a Prime Minister, who has to defend their actions in front of Parliament), there is good reason to conceive of the free press as a de facto check on Executive power  The free press are the ones asking the questions about his actions, not other politicians  With no free press – nobody would ever ask about the president’s policies, needs to be done o Utilitarian view – according to John Stuart Mill, truth in a democratic state can only be achieved if powerful elites do not suppress dissention, even incorrect views may contain some kernel of truth that would be lost if the position were suppressed  Mill – massive proponent of free speech in ensuring that government and society operate smoothly and ethically o If the Press withhold rebellious views from the electorate, even views that are held by only a minority, the democratic process is threatened – elites are silencing dissenting views  If the press withholds mainstream views, then the opinions are forever silenced o To those who might object that these two case studies are not sufficiently relevant:  The amount of money spent on advertising by both American political parties is evidence that the case is relevant – clearly, everyone believes advertisements play a politically essential role  Evidence that films are a politically significant element of the mass media comes from observing that the U.S. military offers equipment to films that portray the military in a positive light, and withhold support from those that are critical o There was also a study suggesting films had a greater impact on changing public opinion about the Vietnam War than did television – so Fahrenheit 911 is also a relevant case study  The Kantian Analysis o Kant’s view is that at the end of the day, everyone is the same, if one person decides to different – they shouldn’t be allowed to think that way o Stoll cites two aspects of Kant’s ethics as being fundamental to her analysis:  Any morally acceptable policy (reason for action) needs to be one that all could adopt without catastrophe  Any moral motive is a motive that everyone else who found themselves in your situation could adopt at the same time without leading to catastrophe  Categorical imperative – your motives, need to be motives that everyone else can adopt, if not, the motive is immoral  This means, in part, that deception is morally impermissi
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