Deontological ethics - Sample Essay

Much like deontological ethics virtue ethics disregard consequences within decision making. However they are not fixed. Fisher & Lovell (2006) define virtues as ‘personal qualities that provide the basis for the individual to lead a good, noble or happy life’ p101. Therefore virtues are personal, individual and unique to the person themselves. It is the individuals own unique standpoint that will dictate whether an action is ethical. Fisher & Lovell (2006) suggest that Ethical learning or ethical egotism is a ‘process of becoming aware of one’s ethical potential’ p120.

However it differs from virtue ethics as it is based upon the consequences of any ethical decisions. Therefore decisions should be based upon whether the consequence is the individuals own happiness. Subsequently ethical decisions should not self sacrifice the individuals own happiness over another’s. The next part of this essay will consider ethical Arguments of the tobacco advertisement analysed from a perspective of the above ethical philosophies.

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Perhaps the most common/reoccurring ethical argument concerned with tobacco advertisement banning is the potential allure to young non smokers and children (Townsend 2000, Cornwell and Maignan 1998, Johnson 2000). Advertising and gaining loyalty of this market demographic is important to most business organisations for the longevity of their business and this is no different to the tobacco industry. Alpert et al (2008) suggests that greater exposure of youth to tobacco advertising correlates with an increased likelihood that they will start smoking cigarettes and use other tobacco products.

From a utilitarian or consequential perspective tobacco advertising to young non smokers is not ethical. This is because the net consequence would be more smokers and the attributing detrimental health issues that smoking may illicit. A deontological perspective is not as clear, this is because it is based upon virtue. Though it is clear that most virtuous people consider smoking to be bad (because of the negative health aspects) this was not always the case.

Individual advertisements must also be taken into account when constructing ethical views of advertisements as to whether the advertisements are misleading or manipulative. This is because many smokers block the tiny air vent holes with their fingers or lips, thereby greatly increasing the yields of tar and nicotine they inhale when compared to the smoking machine determined yields cited in advertising and on packs, cigarette advertising is in this respect arguably misleading.

Fill (2009) states that it is a general legal requirement to tell the truth throughout any marketing communication, however there is plenty of scope to which aspects of the truth are to be presented within the advertisement. Looking back to Townsend (2000) example of 18year olds smoking within an advertisement with big smiles. From a utilitarian perspective this is not ethical because it is propaganda that encourages children to smoke. The argument that tobacco advertising provides information is thus largely bankrupt when examined against actual practice

Another aspect that must be considered from a consequential perspective is the loss of tax revenue from tobacco sales. As Crompton (1993) suggests while western governments are constraining tobacco companies promotional activities whilst enjoying financial benefits from the tobacco industry. Hoek & Sparks (2000) supports this, suggesting that though it may be desirable from a social perspective to implement total advertisement bans of tobacco products, it would require a significant sacrifice of a countries economic well being.

The revenue created from tax on tobacco is then invested within the NHS, schools e.g. From a utilitarian perspective the consequences of smoking are what most virtuous people would consider to be ‘good’. It is also important to consider the economic effects upon the countries where tobacco is actually grown, with lesser developed countries such as Brazil and Pakistan amongst the top ten manufacturers (Workman, 2006) If tobacco sales were to fall as a result of less advertisement of tobacco products it is arguable from a consequential perspective that banning tobacco advertisement is actually not ethical due to the economical damage it would cause to the country in the long term.

Through the evidence given and the range of arguments this essay outlines the positives and negatives in association with the advertisement of tobacco products. What is perhaps most significant is whether tobacco advertisement encourages the young or non smokers to smoke as from both utilitarian and deontological perspectives this is unethical. Patient Uk states About 106,000 people in the UK die each year due to smoking. Smoking-related deaths are mainly due to cancers, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and heart disease,

other evidence backs this up. Conflicting arguments however, would suggest that the aim and outcome of tobacco advertisement is to convert existing smokers to choose higher quality brands. This is not the only argument for pro-campaigners of tobacco advertisement such as the substantial economical benefits. Another possible argument for the advertisement of tobacco is that other non healthy products (alcohol, unhealthy foods e. g. ) marketing regulations are considerably less stringent.

But research does find smoking to be typically harder to quit than drinking alcohol and even, some say, than doing drugs. The harm does depends a lot on how heavy the use is and for how long. But as drinking is restricted to certain times and occasions often weekends and evenings a much stronger addiction is produced with smoking than a drinking habit. Also, there are many kinds of harm besides the damage that the user does to his or her own body such as passive smoking.

From a utilitarian or deontological perspective advertising products such as these possess a similar or worse ethical position than tobacco. Such a range of arguments leaves the ethical position of tobacco advertising down to a virtue ethics standpoint, as it can be interpreted either way depending upon the values of each country or consumer in taking the information.


http://www. suite101. com/content/top-ten-tobacco-countries-a8450 http://www. ethicapublishing. com/confronting/5CH9. pdf



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