Deception in Advertising

Thomas L. Carson

in Lying and Deception

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199577415
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722813 | DOI:
Deception in Advertising

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Deceptive advertising harms people in much the same ways as deception in sales and tends to be wrong for the same reasons. Deceptive ads harm consumers by causing them to have false beliefs about the nature of the products being advertised and thereby causing them to make different purchasing decisions than they would have made otherwise (and purchase things unsuitable for their needs). This chapter presents examples of deceptive ads that harm consumers and argue that running such ads is morally wrong. The chapter's arguments appeal to the presumption against harmful deception established in Chapters 6–8. The chapter then examines US laws regarding deceptive advertising. The law prohibits deceptive advertising, but it defines “deceptive advertising” too narrowly. US law frequently permits what is, in fact, deceptive advertising; therefore, following US laws is not an adequate ethical standard for advertisers. The chapter also addresses the objection that deceptive advertising is permissible if one's competitors are putting one at a disadvantage by means of their own deceptive practices.

Keywords: deceptive advertising; deceptive advertising; golden rule; US law; case studies

Chapter.  4380 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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