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Philosophy 2074F/G
Michael Herbert

CHAPTER 5 – MARKETING AND THE DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION  Marketing ethics explores decision making that emerges at several different levels in corporate life, such as whether to place a new product on the market, how to price a product, how to advertise and how to conduct sales  Ethical issues about marketing are often centered on obligations to disclose information  Deceptive and misleading statements can limit freedom by restricting the range of choice and can cause a person to do what he or she otherwise would not do  Aside from these autonomy-based problems, there are harm based problems that may have little to do with making a choice  The root of the problem is that consumers are frequently unable to evaluate information about the variety of goods and services available to them without assistance. There is a large knowledge gap SALES  Issues about disclosure, deception and manipulation are as important in sales as in advertising  As the marketplace for products has grown more complex and the products themselves mores sophisticated, buyers have become more dependent on salespersons to know their products and to tell the truth about them  He concludes that there is a general obligation to disclose all information that a consumer would need to make a reasonable judgment about whether to purchase a product or service ADVERTISING  Many critics deplore the values presented in advertising as well as the effects advertising has on consumers  Control over a person is exerted through various kinds of influences, but not all influences actually control behavior  Many influences can easily be resisted by most persons; others are irresistible  This effect is accomplished by showing a scantily clad woman holding a brandy snifter and staring provocatively in response to a man’s interested gaze  The degree of influence of these strategies and the moral acceptability of these influences have been less carefully examined  Coercion requires an intentional and successful influence through an irresistible threat of harm  Rational persuasion, by contrast involves a successful appeal to reason to convince a person to accept freely what is advocated by the persuader  The central question is whether actions are sufficiently or adequately free, not whether they are ideally or wholly free  Robert L Arrington – after he examines criticisms and defenses of such practices he analyzes four of the central concepts at work in the debate  1. Autonomous desire  2. Rational desire  3. Free choice  4. Control  He tries to show that, despite certain dangers, advertising should not be judged guilty of frequent violations of the consumer’s autonomy in any relevant sense of this notion  It is illegal to make claims about the health benefits to a specific food product without FDA BLUFFING AND DISCLOSURE  Whether marketing practices can be justified by the rule of the game  Although abuse and contempt are not tolerated, deception is tolerated and even encouraged as long as all players know the rules of the game and occupy roughly equal bargaining positions  Limits must be set to restrict deception, manipulation and cunning manoeuvres that take advantage of a competitor’s misfortune  Here the manipulator modifies a person’s sense of options by affecting the person’s understanding of the situation  Manipulation and deception can result as much from what is not said as from what is said  Corporations can be held accountable for the accuracy of statements made by public relations personnel regarding controversial issues such as their labor practices  Vulnerability is best understood as susceptibility to harm by others  Next to targeting children, one of the most controversial areas in marketing concerns the aggressive sales tactics of prescription drugs by pharmaceutical companies  American consumers are nearly along among the citizens of industrialized nations in being directly targeted by prescription drug advertising  Elliott argues that truly innovative and safe drugs need no marketing  Solutions are more appropriate means of curtailing deceptive and manipulative advertising then is industry self regulation INFORMATION DISCLOSURE IN SALES – HOLLEY  Discussions in medical ethics often deal with the question of how much information should be given to a patient by health care professionals  The question of exactly how much information a salesperson is obligated to give to a potential customer in selling a product  Minimal Information Rule: the buyer is responsible for acquiring information about the product 1. Modified Minimal Information Rule: the only additional information the seller is obligated to give is information a buyer might need to avoid risk of injury 2. Fairness Rule: in addition to safety information, a seller is responsible for giving the buyer any information needed to make a reasonable judgment about whether to purchase the product which the buyer could not reasonably be expected to know about unless informed the seller 3. Mutual Benefit Rule: the seller is responsible for giving the buyer any information needed to make a reasonable judgment about whether to purchase the product which the buyer does not possess 4. Maximal Information Rule: A seller is responsible for giving the buyer any information relevant to deciding whether to purchase the product 5. Deciding how much information a salesperson should provide depends upon an understanding of the nature of the salesperson’s role  Furthermore, efficient functioning of the buyer-seller relationship presupposes a higher degree of trust than game metaphors would suggest to be appropriate  The professional requirement is connected with the extreme vulnerability of patients to the pure pursuit of economic self-interest by physicians  It we interpret the fairnesss rule to the individual person, we would have to determine whether this individual buyer could be expected to know this distinction and it is unclear how such a determination is to be made  Given this distinction, the fairness rule would imply that a salesperson is obliga
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