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Chapter 5


4 Pages

Course Code
Philosophy 2074F/G
Mysty Sybil Clapton

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- Two questions about advertising ethics:
1. What scope is there for ethical concern about the practice of advertising and the
particular content of individual ads?
2. Is there anything morally peculiar to the situation of advertising and should any
special considerations be taken into account here that might be absent from the
moral arena in other situations?
- Answer: there is plenty of room for moral concern, and that is because of the
nature of advertising and its audience
- Moral concerns about advertising are present on 3 levels:
oMacro level – moral justification of the practice of advertising and its
place overall in society
oMicro level – consider particular advertisements and evaluate them
oSpecial considerations should apply to advertisements concerning alcohol,
cigarettes, slimming and therapeutic products
- Ads can be objectionable in different ways and according to different criteria
- Ads can deceive by means other than telling lies, they can deceive by means of
half-truths and implying something that is not the truth without actually lying
- Ads can coerce and manipulate
- The extreme of manipulation is subliminal advertising
- The message need not be subliminal for it to be manipulative
- The extent to which the ad is manipulative or coercive depends not only on the
construction of the ad itself but also on the audience for the ad
E.g. ads aimed at children are slotted into childrens TV timeslots
- On one hand, a concern for respecting peoples autonomy is a reason to consider
the imposition of formal legal limits on advertising
- On the other hand, a concern for people’s autonomy can offer reasons for
refraining from imposing limits
oThe imposition of legal limits amounts to taking a paternalistic role with
regard to the people that are exposed to advertising
- Unethical advertising can also include scams and not advertising at all –
sometimes there are no actual products on the other end

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CHAPTER FIVE: MARKETING AND ADVERTISING ETHICS ­ Two questions about advertising ethics: 1. What scope is there for ethical concern about the practice of advertising and the  particular content of individual ads? 2. Is there anything morally peculiar to the situation of advertising and should any  special considerations be taken into account here that might be absent from the  moral arena in other situations? ­ Answer: there is plenty of room for moral concern, and that is because of the  nature of advertising and its audience  ­ Moral concerns about advertising are present on 3 levels: o Macro level – moral justification of the practice of advertising and its  place overall in society o Micro level – consider particular advertisements and evaluate them  morally  o Special considerations should apply to advertisements concerning alcohol,  cigarettes, slimming and therapeutic products ­ Ads can be objectionable in different ways and according to different criteria ­ Ads can deceive by means other than telling lies, they can deceive by means of  half­truths and implying something that is not the truth without actually lying ­ Ads can coerce and manipulate ­ The extreme of manipulation is subliminal advertising  ­ The message need not be subliminal for it to be manipulative ­ The extent to which the ad is manipulative or coercive depends not only on the  construction of the ad itself but also on the audience for the ad E.g. ads aimed at children are slotted into children’s TV timeslots  ­ On one hand, a concern for respecting people’s autonomy is a reason to consider  the imposition of formal legal limits on advertising ­ On the other hand, a concern for people’s autonomy can offer reasons for  refraining from imposing limits o The imposition of legal limits amounts to taking a paternalistic role with  regard to the people that are exposed to advertising ­ Unethical advertising can also include scams and not advertising at all –  sometimes there are no actual products on the other end FORMAL REGULATION IN CANADA ­ Advertising is subject to formal regulation and legislation from a number of  sources particularly the Competition Act. The Consumer Packaging and Labeling  Act etc. ­ Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) – does not preview or function as a  clearance body for ads. o Its role is to respond to complaints from members of the public concerning  ads that have seen or heard o In order to impose any sanction on ad, ASC would have to prove that the  ad breached one or more clauses in the code  ­ Canadian Radio­TV and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is an  independent public organization that regulates and supervises the Canadian  broadcasting and telecommunications system ­ Primary role in broadcasting is to ensure that Canadians have access to a variety  of programming; it is also responsible for maintaining the Broadcast Code for  Advertising to Children and for Alcoholic Beverages. ­ Developed own set of advertising standards ­ Canadian 
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