An Ethical Question

Continuing on from my last post, The Consumption Engineer, I now have an ethical question in my mind.

On the one hand, I believe it is wrong to manipulate people in any way, and that we should always have freedom of choice.

But on the other hand… Maybe Public Relations (PR) can do for sustainability what it at first did for consumerism? Maybe there are lessons to be learned here about how to mobilize public opinion and create real change. Maybe all environmentalism needs to be adopted by the majority is a sexy make-over and some good PR? I’m really not joking. I think it could be done. Obviously one or two pretty posters wouldn’t cut it, but with a full-blown effort I think skilled PR could promote what one of my lecturers calls ‘The New Environmental Paradigm’.

But is this just as bad as what Edward Bernays did?

I personally don’t think so, but perhaps that’s just because environmentalism is my personal mindset. Of course I like it. But is this taking away people’s free choice?

Contrarily, should people have free choice to trash the planet? Isn’t that taking away the choice from future generations, not to mention all other species?

There are a lot of questions flying around my mind on this subject. If you have any thoughts on the matter please share below..


4 thoughts on “An Ethical Question

  1. So what if you could get all the environmental groups together to form one large group for the purpose of educating and sharing one common message? Do you think that would work toward your goal of a PR message that would work?

    • Yes, I think it could make a huge difference. Of course I’m not suggesting PR will save the world…. But it could persuade PEOPLE to ‘save the world’ (-I don’t actually like that phase, I’m not sure why I used it..). I do think networking is extremely important. Between all environmental groups, and throughout all parts of society. One of the saddest things, I think, is when environmentalists argue among themselves… I just want to shout ”But you essentially agree with each other!!” Co-operation can be difficult but I think it’s vital. (:

  2. Yes this a tricky and relevant question. We’re trying to understand here if it’s moral to psychologcally manipulate people even if it’s for a cause that benefits everyone. Personally I still think, from a fundamental perspective, that we should all have the right to a free choice. Although having said that you could argue that no choice is truly free due to the nature of the human mind. But then again if we followed the ideal of giving everyone truly free choice; we would be wasting time trying to regulate that & we would have to do away with the notion of a campaign altogether… so I’m still confused about what I think. Probably leaning more towards your original stance though at the moment.

    • Thanks for your thoughts. (: It is really complicated, and I don’t think I subscribe to just one stance on the matter… I suppose it’s situation dependent? Like every case should be judged on its own merit…


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