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Would it be ethical for a public relations practitioner to work for a client whose activities, while legal, potentially damage others—e.g., defend cigarette/alcohol companies, or fast food producers, or asbestos manufacturers?

asked Nov 08 '10 at 01:15

Michael's gravatar image


edited Nov 10 '10 at 15:33

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

Well, I disagree with your examples. There's nothing wrong with makers of cigarettes, alcohol, fast food, or asbestos.

How about a PR person who worked for, say, an environmentalist activist group? I know I personally couldn't take that on and keep my integrity.

I don't think you need to be fully aligned with your clients on every issue, but I don't see how you can work to help someone who is attacking your values. I'd rather dig ditches for a living, or starve.

answered Nov 08 '10 at 03:03

jasoncrawford's gravatar image

jasoncrawford ♦

This question seems neatly aligned with Rand's dramatic treatment of Roark's decisions not to build something that didn't have integrity. "That was the most selfish thing you've ever seen a man do," Roark said when he refused the bank job. (I am quoting from memory.) So, knowing the place of selfishness in ethical decisions, the answer must come in the negative. It would be self-sacrificial to promote something ethically improper. I want to add something about how large that category is. Since the question mentioned alcohol and cigarettes, I should note, as an earlier answer does, that such things are not immoral. PR projects from environmentalists-gone-wild are an example of what is to be avoided, and progressive politicians, but there are few things for sale that are per se immoral.

answered Nov 08 '10 at 20:38

Mindy%20Newton's gravatar image

Mindy Newton ♦

edited Nov 11 '10 at 23:31

I answered this question in a recent edition of my Rationally Selfish Webcast. An audio recording of my response is available here on my blog NoodleFood, starting at 53:07.

answered Dec 31 '10 at 21:37

Diana%20Hsieh's gravatar image

Diana Hsieh ♦

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Asked: Nov 08 '10 at 01:15

Seen: 1,939 times

Last updated: Dec 31 '10 at 21:37