Is it ethical to try to convince someone of something without explicitly letting them know what that is?

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Is it ethical or virtuous to try to convince someone of something without telling them explicitly what that is? For example, is it ethical to try to convince someone that an art work by Picasso is good without letting the listener know what you mean by good?

Is it ironic? Socratic? What does it say about the persons involved?

confused

Posted 2018-11-22T19:22:11.983

Reputation: 311

I voted to close because I don't understand the question, but I will retract my vote if you can make this clearer. Best wishes. – Frank Hubeny – 2018-11-22T19:44:52.323

uh i have no way to make it clearer, i'm asking what it means! @FrankHubeny if it's ironic, socratic etc.. maybe you're right and the only way is to ask who said it – confused – 2018-11-22T19:45:28.877

Are you asking whether it is virtuous to say that a Picasso is good even though you don't think it is good? That might be a kind of deception and so not virtuous. – Frank Hubeny – 2018-11-22T19:47:23.547

no i'm asking about convincing someone a picasso is good without using the term good @FrankHubeny – confused – 2018-11-22T19:48:33.460

I think you are asking then if it is virtuous to try to convince someone of something without telling them what it is you are trying to convince them of, basically letting them come to the conclusion on their own. – Frank Hubeny – 2018-11-22T19:51:04.530

I made an edit. Feel free to revise or roll back. Indirect persuasion does raise ethical issues especially with advertising. – Frank Hubeny – 2018-11-22T19:58:02.380

I doubt anyone could be convinced that a work of art is subjectively "good", without some explanation for how the term good is defined in that particular circumstance. So in that sense, such an omission might be considered unethical or simply unwise. – Bread – 2018-11-22T20:39:58.247

Answers

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The issue of indirect persuasion can be viewed as an issue about manipulation.

Here is how Robert Noggle introduces the topic and hints at the problems of considering indirect persuasion, that is "neither coercion nor rational persuasion", as manipulation or not.

Manipulation is often characterized as a form of influence that is neither coercion nor rational persuasion. But this characterization immediately raises the question: Is every form of influence that is neither coercion nor rational persuasion a form of manipulation? If manipulation does not occupy the entire logical space of influences that are neither rational persuasion nor coercion, then what distinguishes it from other forms of influence that are neither coercion nor rational persuasion?

Here are the other questions:

Is it ironic? Socratic? What does it say about the persons involved?

What it might say about us is that we are not, nor are we able to be, completely rational where direct persuasion can or even should be expected to be effective.


Reference

Noggle, Robert, "The Ethics of Manipulation", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2018 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2018/entries/ethics-manipulation/.

Frank Hubeny

Posted 2018-11-22T19:22:11.983

Reputation: 18 742

1interesting answer, thanks! wasn't completely cognizant of it being manipulation – confused – 2018-11-22T20:46:46.210