Irrational Advertising and Moral Autonomy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle in a journalpeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This article analyzes the four main criticisms against commercial manipulative advertising (here called irrational advertising): the virtue ethics criticism (“irrational advertising prevents human virtue”), the utilitarian criticism (“irrational advertising harms general happiness”), the autonomist criticism (“irrational advertising violates the audience’s autonomy”), and the Kantian criticism (“irrational advertising implies treating humanity merely as means”). After demonstrating the weaknesses of the virtue ethics criticism, the utilitarian criticism, and the autonomist criticism, I reconstruct the latter using Kant’s conception of autonomy. In doing so, I simultaneously expand the Kantian criticism: irrational advertising not only entails treating humanity merely as means, but it also threatens moral autonomy by encouraging heteronomy and sometimes even a rebellion against the moral law.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-490
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2017


  • Advertising ethics
  • Autonomy
  • Categorical imperative
  • Immanuel Kant
  • Irrational advertising
  • Manipulation


Dive into the research topics of 'Irrational Advertising and Moral Autonomy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this