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Week 11 - Durham.docx

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Philosophy 2730F/G
Ryan Robb

Durham 12/1/2012 3:04:00 PM Lecture 11 Durham  The Point: o Past attempts to evaluate the ethical status of advertising have failed to do so accurately because they have assumed that advertisements are directed at all consumers in general  Durham’s view: o Advertising practice will be morally questioned when we consider ad campaigns designed to appeal to, and influence the purchasing behavior of ‘target audiences’, to the extent that it is detrimental to the target group  The Strategy: o Part I: Arrington o Part II: Santilli o Part III: Cases exemplifying how target advertising raises serious ethical concerns  I. Arrington o Arrington ultimately concludes that advertising doesn’t undermine the ability of individual consumers to make rational free choices o According to Arrington, an advertiser is immorally controlling the behavior of a consumer if:  a. The ad is intended by the advertiser to get a particular consumer to behave in a certain manner  b. The ad actually does cause that consumer to behave in that manner  c. The advertiser seeks to ensure that any other necessary conditions required for the behavior to occur are met o Arrington’s defence of advertising is based on his belief that the majority of advertisements do not satisfy condition #3  This is because advertisers don’t seek to create basic desires in individuals, all they do is appeal to already existent desires  Each consumer sees an ad from their own point of view, and since advertisers have no control over that point of view, they cannot be said to be undermining the individual consumer’s autonomy o Durham Objection #1: Arrington’s analysis ‘begs the question’  Critics are concerned about the way advertisers rely on certain individual characteristics as a means of causing consumers to act in a certain way o Objection #2: The requirement of the conditions, that the attempt to control behaviour be directed at a specific individual consumer is too narrow  While Arrington at least acknowledges the possibility that groups can be targeted by advertisers, he doesn’t pursue this possibility on the grounds that it is ‘referentially opaque’, if we cannot identify the individual to be controlled, there is no need for concern o The problem with Arrington’s view is that, because he fails to acknowledge the real world advertising strategy of targeting specific groups for ad campaigns, he fails to address an entire category of advertising where undermining rational autonomy is a legitimate concern  II. Santilli o Santilli draws a distinction between two forms of advertising, persuasive and informative  Persuasive advertising relies on images that somehow misrepresent the reality of the product  Informative ads merely present information about the product being advertised, without embellishment o Santilli’s conclusion is that persuasive advertising does ‘pers
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