The article is written by Klempner George, a philosopher, and metaphysics. It is entitled “Ethics and Advertising” and have been severally published in peer-reviewed journals such as Ethics, Law, and Society (Klempner). The article was commissioned for writing by the Cardiff Centre for Ethics, Law, and Society, in 2004, and has been republished since then in the other journals (Klempner).
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The article offers an interesting perspective of the morality of advertising, from the viewpoint of a philosopher. His main claim is that it is very difficult to keep an absolute level of morality and ethics simply because in the world of advertising. This is because in the world of business, “normal ethics is suspended” (Klempner). He proceeds to tell us that the business world has an unfair trait, brought about by the use of advertising. Advertisers have three main evils:
- “They sell us dreams, entice us into confusing dreams with reality.
- They pander to our desires for things that are bad for us.
- They manipulate us into wanting things we don’t really need” (Klempner)
In his article, he devotes much of his time to analyzing these three. He summarizes with an interesting example of a real-life moral choice that an advertising team would face. His conclusion is that it is very difficult for true moral standards to be applied to this field (Klempner). However, this does not excuse them from not practicing it because “no one escapes ethics” (Klempner).
The article, in summary, is enlightening as it offers a perspective that is rarely given: the philosophy of advertising and morality. He introduces the article from a philosophical point of view. He does this by showing how philosophy and business coincide. Additionally, he validates his participation in the advertising argument by stating that he is an “outsider” to the world of advertising and business, and can, therefore, see the issues from a fresh and more revealing perspective (Klempner).
This validation is very philosophical, a point that comes from his professional philosophy background. The sections that deal with the evils of advertising are as impressive. They give a good argument, starting off with a question, and leaving the subject answered in a satisfying manner. I had thought that it is a philosophical paper, it would leave us with a few questions to answer for ourselves.
However, the conclusion of the paper is a bit abstract. He rightly concludes that the business world has a different measure of ethics from the rest of the world (Klempner). He does not answer, conclusively why he thinks that it is so. Additionally, the argument that advertising can never be truly ethical is as debatable as to why we go to war.
He has no business insight into the importance of advertising and its real business use, but merely approaches this subject from a totally philosophical point of view. Also, I would have loved to hear a recommendation from him concerning his findings, but he does not offer this.
In my opinion, the paper is very interesting. The claim that morality and ethics in advertising are hard to maintain because of the evils of advertising is well discussed. However, my main quarrel with the article is that he offers no recommendation based on his findings. I think that the topic was interesting, and a philosophical recommendation based on the findings would be interesting to read.
Klempner, Geoffrey. “Ethics and Advertising.” Freeshell. 2004. Web.