Essay about Deontological Advertising

1279 Words6 Pages
Depending on one’s perspective or level of awareness, the term consumerism might take on a variety of meanings. One thing is quite certain, however, we Americans enjoy consuming and more so, doing it conveniently. Unsurprisingly, the field of advertising in the business world is specifically dedicated to understanding exactly what products or services are of interest to us, the consumers. Commercial entities spend considerable amount of resources to advertising. The pharmaceutical industry is no different. It is with this context in mind and utilizing the Deontological framework, that I will examine the ethical fabric of direct pharmaceutical marketing to consumers.
In the age of information, we are no longer limited to television and
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Let us visit the tenets by which Immanuel Kant, a deontological philosopher, outlined his approach to morals in terms of decisions and acts. In his theory, Kant proposed an objective way of coming to an ethical answer to common “should I do it or, not” dilemmas. His method, which he termed the categorical imperative, was at the root of his moral philosophy (Johnson). In it, he outlined his three maxims by which to measure a proposed act. These were universality, by which an act faced scrutiny in answering whether the act would survive all persons doing it all the time. Would the world succumb as a result? If considered acceptable one would then accept the act. The second maxim involves us treating humans as ends as opposed to means. Kant’s second maxim would have us prevent malfeasance and manipulation of humans as a means to an end. The third maxim was the ultimate test. In contends that one must act as if one is the highest moral authority in the world. And, as such, the ultimate burden of acting moral, regardless of consequence, would rest on us (Kemerling). With this in mind, overlaying direct marketing to consumers upon this theory should shed light on some questions behind the ethics of pharmaceutical companies.
In the 1980’s, drug companies were banned from advertising prescription drugs to consumers. That same decade brought changes in these regulations allowing companies to advertise, mostly in
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