Analysis of Advertising and Behaviour Control Essay

1007 Words Oct 12th, 2015 5 Pages
Sunny Johal 3492527
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Analysis of Advertising and Behaviour Control by Robert L. Arrington Observation: In his essay, “Advertising and Behaviour Control,” Robert L. Arrington provides a discussion on the power of advertisements. He attempts to solve whether or not businesses are acting unethically when advertising. The question raised asks: Do advertisements lead to a loss of autonomy in humans? Arrington begins his argument by presenting advertisements that suggest unrealistic outcomes from the use of certain products. He refers to this practice as “puffery” (283), a perfectly legal advertising tool which precisely appeals to consumer “needs and desires” (283). Human autonomy is questioned with the belief that these
“needs
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Not all decisions are influenced by these physical desires, people have preferences that make them original. This originality is brought on by “culturally induced” desires. What makes it original is that a person chooses which desires are true to them. Arrington explains this very simply with “Frankfurt‘s” concept of a “desire to not have another desire.” A very attractive advertisement using “puffery” may cause a non­autonomous desire to buy Vodka until the autonomous desire of restraining from alcohol leads to that person choosing the desire that is original to them (286).
Furthermore, those who are concerned that non­autonomous desires are being instilled by advertisers will surely fear that rationality and choice will be compromised. The argument here is that advertisers do not present all the facts, and simply present those that will be attractive to the consumer. This is not fair to the consumer because they may develop a desire that is not actually true to their rational self. If one’s rationality is violated, there autonomy is consequently violated as well. Arrington points out that “rational desire or choice is… based upon relevant information and information is relevant if it shows how other, prior desires may be satisfied.” This means that people observe ads and determine for themselves what information is relevant based on their already existing, original, autonomous desires. It is one’s rational desire to purchase a

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