When does persuasion become unethical? - Three cases

Discussion in 'Mayberry Lounge' started by Tycho Brah, May 19, 2014.

  1. Tycho Brah

    Tycho Brah You drink water, I drink anarchy Platinum Member

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    Consider 3 scenarios:

    1) Advertising - You've graduated with a degree in behavioural economics. A company hires you to give them a consultation in regards to the subconscious psychological cues and other nudging effects they can use to make their product more palatable to consumers. A guy in the grocery store walks by a sign that leads him down an aisle where the product in question is on display. Your marketing tactics lead to him make a purchase that he otherwise wouldn't have.

    2) Bar Night - You've got a crush on a girl you work with. You've asked her out to dinner twice, but been turned down both times simply because she "isn't interested". One night the office goes out to a bar to celebrate the acquisition of a new premiere client. You've both had a couple drinks - nothing too serious. She's giving you eyes. You ask her what she's doing later. She tells you to ask again in a few hours. You wake up the next day wrapped around her in her bed (with a headache).

    3) Religion - You've got an extended cousin that you see a few times a year at various family functions. Every time you see her, she manages to turn the conversation onto the glory of her religion. You've had enough. You politely engage her with some questions intended to eventually convince her that her religious beliefs are false. She answers your questions and shows a hint of doubt. You press on the time next time you see her, continuing in this manner for a couple of years. Finally you get an email in your inbox. She's lost her faith. She's confused and doesn't know what to do or what to think, so she's coming to you for advice.

    In each scenario you've acted specifically on the intention to persuade someone else to make a decision. In each one the target showed no sign of wanting to make such a decision; it's safe to say that two of them even expressed a desire not to.

    Have you done anything wrong?
     
  2. Kevin Rudd

    Kevin Rudd Banned Banned

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    probably the most questionable imo would be option 2. Although it doesn't really specify it appears you have taken advantage of a girl who was drunk.

    Option 3 is simply using a logical argument to convince someone that they are wrong. I don't see a huge issue with that.

    Option 1 is a hard one and I am indifferent as to whether or not you have done anything wrong per se but you have certainly used something to your advantage, if it were something more substantial than a grocery item that you knew the person could not afford maybe but otherwise not a huge deal.
     
  3. Nomos

    Nomos Orange Belt

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    Unethical persuasion is to push someone to do something against their best interests.

    1) not unethical unless your product is detrimental to the well-being of the customer or his family, friends, etc. (Cigarettes, alcohol possibly, etc)

    2) not unethical unless you are trying to take advantage of her. If drunk drivers are liable for their actions, drunk sex partners are too.

    3) intention here counts for a lot. Do you want her to change for you or for her? If you answer you, then definitely unethical.
     
  4. MortalWombat

    MortalWombat Vombatus Sherdoggus

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    1) If it worked like that, then maybe. But it sounds a bit like how advertising people would like their clients to think advertising works. Though I do think simple placement of lollies at checkouts is fucking evil and wish harm on people whose decision it is.

    2) What happened here? Did I black out? Is the implication that she drugged me? So I got free drugs AND got laid? How is this at all bad?

    3) I guess since you've been a persistent self-appointed spiritual advisor, then it's a bit mean if you then go "Haha, welcome to the abyss of meaninglessness, bitch. Anything goes, have fun," and never see her again. Otherwise, it's just people talking.


    Edit: I should probably annotate my response to number 2.

    This is in a world where I am asking people out and pining after them, ie one where I am not in a committed relationship. Darling.

    Not that I would even want to imagine such a world. Oh goddamit, can I please stop digging now?
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2014
  5. tkotom

    tkotom Fedor belt

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    None are "unethical."

    Just ma opinion.
     
  6. Jack Reacheround

    Jack Reacheround Never Go Black

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    The only unethical thing would be if scenarios 2 and 3 were combined and you got your cousin drunk, convinced her that maintaining her chastity due to religion was stupid, and slept with her.
     
  7. Fzubek

    Fzubek Brown Belt

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    When you convince someone to do something that is not beneficial to them.
     
  8. v.kevin

    v.kevin <img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img850/872/canbel

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    1. Ads are persuasive and can be effective. It's no secret and your example of an impulse purchase is not unethical persuasion, IMO. Convincing someone to go over budget on the purchase of a house in 2006 because they are crazy to pass up on this real estate boom and selling an interest-only liar loan would be unethical persuasion for sure.

    2. She's as guilty as you of taking advantage of a drunk so it's a wash.

    3. You did her a favor.
     
  9. TeTe

    TeTe PopoZão Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    I've done way worse to get laid than the scenario in number two.

    I've taken advantage of the fact girl had just gotten out of a bad relationship and convinced her that me being a rebound was a solid idea.

    I've even told told women....... I loved them in order to get them in bed.

    Yeah, I'm going to hell.
     
  10. Tycho Brah

    Tycho Brah You drink water, I drink anarchy Platinum Member

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    This sounds pretty good, but who gets to decide what that is? I certainly won't claim that I always do things in my best interest, particularly in the long-term.

    Consider case three. My cousin thinks that her religion is necessary for her to have meaning and motivation in her life. I think otherwise. Her transition away from her religion will inevitably be rough, and she will very likely be miserable or at least uncomfortable for an extended period of time.

    Can I conclude that I have a better idea of her best interests than she does?
     
  11. Tycho Brah

    Tycho Brah You drink water, I drink anarchy Platinum Member

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    And an icy hell at that.
     
  12. v.kevin

    v.kevin <img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img850/872/canbel

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    If the truth is that difficult for her and causes so much hardship, the unethical behavior happened long ago in indoctrinating her to the religion. Not in freeing her from it.
     
  13. Talent

    Talent <img src="http://i.imgur.com/NwpFvrR.gif"> Platinum Member

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    1.) No problem. You should expect that going into a grocery store.
    2.) Both got fairly drunk and fooled around. Not a lot of details on how the getting drunk part went down, but it doesn't seem predatory.
    3.) Just discussion she initiated about a subject that lead her to change an opinion.
     
  14. Tycho Brah

    Tycho Brah You drink water, I drink anarchy Platinum Member

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    So just to clarify, I can make that decision for her because I think that I'm in sole possession of the truth in this case?
     
  15. Tycho Brah

    Tycho Brah You drink water, I drink anarchy Platinum Member

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    There's a paper I was going to post here (lost the link) about how the ethics of cases like these are determined by what the target would do upon reasoned reflection, given all the pertinent information.

    That seems to make (1) wrong, (2) wrong, and (3) right.

    I think this condition avoids the problem of people arguing logically with faulty information or in the wrong direction, or people seeming like they're arguing logically while committing errors the target might not catch on to or understand.

    Unfortunately it produces results that conflict with common intuitions.
     
  16. karnifx

    karnifx Yellow Belt

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    If your cousin is an adult and leads an otherwise responsible life of her own accord then it wasn't your persuasion that changed her mind. She has a personal interest in gnosticism/atheism now and should use the time she was using for her religion in studying her new found unbelief. Assuming she isn't dim witted or mentally disturbed to the point where she would be considered incompetent or disabled then you've done nothing wrong.
     
  17. AgeofEmpires2**

    AgeofEmpires2** Silver Belt

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    Depending on what kind of business you go into the lines can constantly be pushed back further and further to the point that you don't even care because you realize someone's position is purely based on their moral stance. In school they teach you not to lie, cheat, or steal... and then when you go work for a business you sometimes have to learn those things to make more money, be more efficient, or simply cover your own ass. Skills I've learned at work have carried over positively in my social life, there was a time I was 'too honest' to the point that I was only sabotaging my own intentions.
     
  18. odog

    odog A cat trapped in a dog's body

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    I don't think any of those are wrong.

    1) Sales tactics cross the line when you are being purposefully deceptive. If a used car salesman sells a car that he knows is a lemon, but describes it as reliable, then that is unethical. Using subtle tactics to get people to notice your product isn't a huge deal. If someone buys it once and doesn't like it, they have the option to avoid it in the future.

    2) Purposefully getting a girl drunk so that she will lower her standards and sleep with you is wrong. So if you were drinking sodas all night long while plying a woman with liquor, hoping that she will lose her senses, that is taking advantage. If you have had a few drinks, she has had a few drinks and you decide to have some fun together, no big deal.

    3) If someone constantly talks about their religion, I see no problems questioning it. If they don't want someone to contradict their views, they can keep them to themselves.
     
  19. MortalWombat

    MortalWombat Vombatus Sherdoggus

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    All the pertinent information available to the person doing the persuading, or all the pertinent information in the universe? Or all the pertinent information the person doing the persuading ought to have had?

    Is this what you're talking about when you say "arguing logically with faulty information"?
     
  20. 7437

    7437 Gold Belt

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    I will never understand why that line works so well. it even works with women who know you, and that it is a lie. even if they have seen you use it before, it still works.
     

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