There is nothing wrong about the advertising itself, but there are often cases, when advertising turned to persuasion.In these cases people either buy things they do not need or they buy things thinking they are good for their health, but it is not true indeed (like claims about yoghurts being extremely healthy).
There is also tobacco industry making billiards with advertising sophistication of smoking and showing young people how cool it is if you smoke or perfumes manufacturers, who use sexual appeal in their ads to draw more attention to their products.
We are all humans and we do react to such ads, we do want to be healthy, sophisticated and pretty and many manufacturers make use of it!
The main moral principle of advertises should be that the advertising only show the actual properties of a product and do not exaggerate them, the ads should also not mislead the customers. There are also ads which appeal to half-truth, like „buy 3, pay for 2“, or sales due to the closing of a shop, which is not closing, etc. As to the appeals to human vanity, the author thinks, that it is not necessarily immoral.
One more point which is rather important are advertisers using celebrities to pursue people to buy their products. We do know, that if we eat at McDonald’s every day, we won’t be as pretty and glorious as Heidi Klum, but it is in our human nature to have a feeling, that if I do the same, I will look in the same way. This is one more trap used by the advertisers, which is not that moral. Another point in this kind of ads is the moral responsibility of celebrities. The author assumes, that they would say, that it is just their job to act, but there is always another side.
The problem of pressure on selected audiences is as old as the world. Making advertising of toys, which manipulates children’s immaturity is completely deceptive, but showing in the ad, that if the children would have better grades at school if they buy this or that is absolutely immoral.
There are points of view, which say that advertising is to be blamed of the consumerism and materialism of nowadays people, but the author says that as long as the advertisers respect the freedom of individuals to make their own unpressured choice, it is ok if they tell the world about their products.
Protecting the Environment
In this chapter the author considers different points of view regarding the environment and natural resources being used by the humans. He says, that the only way to establish moral obligations toward the environment is in terms of how harm to the environment affects human beings.
The author also points out that conservation of natural resources is very important. The author argues, that it is immoral to use natural resources for example for aesthetic purposes) if it results in a lack of essential resources for other people. The dilemma of using or not using natural resources should not be solved only for the purpose of minimizing costs and making profits. Another dilemma is if we should save resources for future generations or not. Some people say, that we have to save for future generations and some believe that those who are now living have priority and have to take what they need. The author believes, that we have to save resources for our nearest future (about 50 years), but still rely on the technologies like fuel-efficient vehicles, developing alternate energy sources, recycling metals, tires, paper and replanting trees.
The author also shows two absolutely different points of view regarding the harm to the environment made by humans on an example of producing electricity. The author claims, that there is on one hand negative affects like pollution and many illnesses caused by it, but on the other side there are lights on the streets, which make our lives safer or there are electric devices which help to save peoples’ lives in hospitals, etc. The greatest task of humans is to find the best correlation between negative and positive points and do their best to optimize it.
Even though the book has been published in 1992 the author considers different dilemmas which are still important in 2014. He covers dilemmas starting with moral dignity, human rights over employee privacy and safety to advertising and even environmental problems. The author often considers different points of view and tells his own. The author tells his point of view, but these points of view are not a solutions of dilemmas being discussed. The dilemmas of how far is advertising is allowed to manipulate us or how much of the natural resources we are allowed to use are way too complicated and can not be solved within few pages of the book.
Summarised by Svitlana Tretiak, IMB 12