Ventas y marketing

Irrational Advertising and Moral Autonomy

2015

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This article analyzes the four main criticisms against commercial manipulative advertising (here called irrational advertising): the virtue ethics criticism (“irrational advertising prevents human virtue”), the utilitarian criticism (“irrational advertising harms general happiness”), the autonomist criticism (“irrational advertising violates the audience’s autonomy”), and the Kantian criticism (“irrational advertising implies treating humanity merely as means”). After demonstrating the weaknesses of the virtue ethics criticism, the utilitarian criticism, and the autonomist criticism, I reconstruct the latter using Kant’s conception of autonomy. In doing so, I simultaneously expand the Kantian criticism: irrational advertising not only entails treating humanity merely as means, but it also threatens moral autonomy by encouraging heteronomy and sometimes even a rebellion against the moral law.

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