The Ethics (?) of Advertising

The line between what is legal (what one may do without state punishment) and what is not ethical (what one ought not to do even if it is legal) is often murky.

I suspect that many readers of this site would look askance at a media commercial with content something like this: You’ve been caught stealing money from the United Way. It’s not just a Criminal Code conviction. Fight it.

Ontario residents who listen to commercial radio have probably heard advertisements whose content is “it’s not just a speeding ticket, fight it” – or worse.

Is there, ethically, a difference between that advertisement and the version I outlined?

I suppose it’s all an aspect of a society where it often seems that there’s no ethical obligation to take personal responsibility for one’s errors (especially if one can get away with it.)


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