Ethics of Persuasion

When we purposely use communication to influence others (their values, attitudes, emotions, beliefs, and actions), then we are engaging in persuasion for or against something. Adding media to the mix, so that we can extend our influence, makes us propagandists. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Without some level of persuasion, common agreements (or social contracts) about public policies would be impossible. Another reason is that although persuasion and propaganda are often negatively associated with falsehoods or half-truths, this is not necessarily the case. Much persuasion is in fact truthful, subject to review and critique. Ironically, democracies as well as dictatorships need such purposeful communication if society is to exist and progress.

Advertising and public relations, for example, have long been important persuasive communication strategies ...

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