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Advertising Ethics

In a modern capitalist society, ads are ubiquitous; criticisms of advertising are nearly as common. Some ethical criticisms concern advertising as a social practice, while others attack specific ads or advertising practices. Central to ethical criticisms are concerns that ads subvert rational decision making and threaten human autonomy by creating needs, creating false needs, developing one-sided narrowly focused needs that can only be satisfied by buying material products and services, and/or appealing to genuine and deeply rooted human needs in a manipulative way. A second sort of criticism is that ads harm human welfare by keeping everyone dissatisfied. At a minimum, ads try to make people dissatisfied with not currently having the product, but many ads also aim at keeping people permanently dissatisfied with their ...

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