Word Count 398
“Advertising and behavioral Control”
In this essay Arrington is exploring the morality of advertising. He is debating the principles of puffery, stating that when companies exaggerate the benefits of their products, will it amount to manipulation, exploitation, or downright control (283).
Arrington begins by quoting some suggestive advertising that he bases his argument on. Advertisers use motivational research to identify hidden needs such as security, desire for power, and sexual domination to design ads that appeal to those wants and desires. In doing so, ads produce huge numbers of people ready to buy, sometimes whether they need the product or not (283).
The author asks if the success of indirect advertising causes the consumer to forfeit autonomy. The business world rejects this idea, as consumers return to buy these products repeatedly. If only the true benefits were advertised, then the companies wouldn’t sell as much, because hope and adventure are what we all want (284).
Arrington answers the question of whether puffery is a violation of autonomy by breaking it down into four categories: autonomous desire, rational desire and choice, free choice, and control or manipulation. First, was the idea to make a purchase autonomous, or did the ad generate the need. Second, our autonomy has been violated in that we are prevented from following our rational wills because the ad appeals to our desires and doesn’t state the facts about the product. Third, some desires are so strong that we can’t resist buying the product, thus giving up our freedom of choice. Finally, by manipulating people to buy, ads may cause serious harm by influencing people to spend money they don’t have. (286-289).
In conclusion, Arrington is in favor of the advertisers. He believes that consumers are in control of their behavior, and even though ads are designed to appeal to our subconscious desires, we still...