ETHICS IN ADVERTISING
Pontifical Council for Social Communications
February 22, 1997
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. Introduction 2
II. The Benefits of Advertising 3
a) Economic Benefits of Advertising 3
b) Benefits of Political Advertising 4
c) Cultural Benefits of Advertising 4
d) Moral and Religious Benefits of Advertising 4
III. The Harm Done By Advertising 5
a) Economic Harms of Advertising 5
b) Harms of Political Advertising 6
c) Cultural Harms of Advertising 6
d) Moral and Religious Harms of Advertising 7
IV. Some Ethical and Moral Principles 7
a) Truthfulness in Advertising 8
b) The Dignity of the Human Person 8
c) Advertising and Social Responsibility 9
V. Conclusion: Some Steps to Take 10
1. THE IMPORTANCE OF ADVERTISING IS “STEADILY ON THE INCREASE IN MODERN SOCIETY.”1 THAT OBSERVATION, MADE BY THIS PONTIFICAL COUNCIL A QUARTER CENTURY AGO AS PART OF AN OVERVIEW OF THE STATE OF COMMUNICATIONS, IS EVEN MORE TRUE NOW.
Just as the media of social communication themselves have enormous influence everywhere, so advertising, using media as its vehicle, is a pervasive, powerful force shaping attitudes and behavior in today’s world.
Especially since the Second Vatican Council, the Church has frequently addressed the question of the media and their role and responsibilities.2 She has sought to do so in a fundamentally positive manner, viewing the media as “gifts of God” which, in accordance with his providential design, bring people together and “help them to cooperate with his plan for their salvation.”3
In doing so, the Church stresses the responsibility of media to contribute to the authentic, integral development of persons and to foster the well being of society. “The information provided by the media is... [continues]
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