Advantages and Disadvantages of Advertising

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Advertising can be regarded as having two separate functions, one of persuading and one of informing consumers. Against some who claim that persuasive advertising using irrational means is moral as long as the product or service it represents is good or useful, this paper argues that by denigrating human reason such advertising is always immoral. On the other hand, advertisements which present information in a straight-forward and truthful way are always moral no matter what they advertise; indeed, only such advertisements are moral. Paul Santilli is Assistant Professor at the Philosophy Dept. of Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y. His most important publication is: ‘The Family and Social Contract Theory’, Philosophy, Children, and the Family, Plenum Press, N.Y., Spring 1982.

Abstract
This paper argues that product and advertisement are neither completely dependent nor completely independent. The advertisement of a bad product cannot be good. The advertisement of a good product is not necessarily good. In the case where consumer sovereignty cannot be assumed, the goodness of an advertisement depends solely on the goodness of the product. In the case where consumer sovereignty can be assumed, the goodness of an advertisement depends first on whether the product is good, and if so, whether the advertisement preserves individual autonomy. Abstract

Advertising can be regarded as having two separate functions, one of persuading and one of informing consumers. Against some who claim that persuasive advertising using irrational means is moral as long as the product or service it represents is good or useful, this paper argues that by denigrating human reason such advertising is always immoral. On the other hand, advertisements which present information in a straight-forward and truthful way are always moral no matter what they advertise; indeed, only such advertisements are moral. Paul Santilli is Assistant Professor at the Philosophy Dept. of Siena College,...
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