Persuasive advertising, autonomy, and the creation of desire

Journal of Business Ethics 6 (5):413 - 418 (1987)
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It is argued that persuasive advertising overrides the autonomy of consumers, in that it manipulates them without their knowledge and for no good reason. Such advertising causes desires in such a way that a necessary condition of autonomy — the possibility of decision — is removed. Four notions central to autonomous action are discussed — autonomous desire, rational desire and choice, free choice, and control or manipulation — following the strategy of Robert Arrington in a recent paper in this journal. Replies are made to Arrington's arguments in favour of advertising. It is also claimed that the argument developed by Philip Nelson, which concludes that even if persuasive advertising does override autonomy, it is still in the interests of consumers to be subjected to it, is seriously mistaken. Finally, some caveats concerning informative advertising are presented.



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Roger Crisp
Oxford University

References found in this work

Advertising and behavior control.Robert L. Arrington - 1982 - Journal of Business Ethics 1 (1):3 - 12.

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