Handbook on Ethics and Marketing
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Handbook on Ethics and Marketing

Edited by Alexander Nill

Exploring both the theoretical and the applied aspects of the role ethics plays in marketing, this Handbook analyzes key issues in order to advance our understanding and provide an overview of the state of the art in this vital field.
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Chapter 12: Environmental ethics: theory and implications for marketing

Raymond Benton


Many marketers recognize they have obligations toward the non-human world, obligations that are not fully understood. This chapter sheds light on how such marketers can justify their own feelings and persuade others. The chapter begins with the historical rise of environmental consciousness before discussing the two most influential of the Western ethical theories: Kantianism and utilitarianism. It then discusses their shortcomings before moving on to the sentimentalist approach to ethics that comes down to us from David Hume and Adam Smith. A direct line from the sentimentalist approach is drawn to the environmental/ecological ethics of Aldo Leopold. Much is left out of this chapter: virtue ethics, social contract theory or any of the strictly environmental philosophies that have emerged (deep ecology, ecofeminism, social ecology, bioregionalism). Neither are any of the spiritual or religious approaches to environmental ethics discussed. If you’re not depressed, I often joke to my students, it’s only because you haven’t been reading the newspaper. And indeed we do live in a frightening time, marked by fundamentalist violence, aggressive wars, ethnic conflict, starvation amid plenty, and the subject of this book: enormously pervasive environmental problems. (Gottleib 2006, p. vii) For the most part we have cared little about our impact on the environment. The past century and especially the past 50 years has witnessed an increasing awareness that we can and are causing significant harm to the rest of nature.

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