Is Rhetoric Unethical?

Being that rhetoric is the art of persuading audiences, the morality of it is up for debate. Using words to confuse or manipulate people seems unethical. However, I believe rhetoric is ethical. Take advertisements for example; they are examples of persuasion that are all around us. Stores try to convince us of their amazing deals, and restaurants try to convince us of their amazing food. It is up to us to determine how accurate these claims are. Still, they are not in the wrong for trying to make their businesses seem like the best possible.   As long as they are not telling lies, they are not being unethical. Consider meeting a new person for the first time. Of course you are going to try to put your best foot forward. You try to come off funny and charismatic. Clearly, we are not all so charming on a daily basis. Is it unethical or lying to not show all sides of yourself right away? I believe this is what companies are doing when they are advertising; they are simply putting their best foot forward. On the other hand, sometimes certain companies are telling lies. If the facts they tell are simply not true, this is unethical. For instance, a lot of weight loss pills are advertised as allowing a person simply to lose weight by taking the pill, while continuing to eat whatever they want or not exercise. First of all, how can that be possible? The truth is, those pills don’t work. Most are scams, and that is unethical rhetoric. Although the line may be tricky to place, I believe in general, most forms of rhetoric and persuasion are ethical.

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One thought on “Is Rhetoric Unethical?

  1. Hello Alyssa! I believe you pose a very interesting argument here. I do agree that there is a fine line when it comes to advertising a product. There is a lot of speculation as to whether it will deliver the promised results. But I believe what we have been able to create in order to combat this potential deception are sites like Yelp and Google Reviews. With these tools, one is able to thoroughly research a product, whatever it may be, before investing their time or money. This connects to our other discussion if Google and the Internet is making us stupid, which I tend to disagree with. So even though there might be a potential threshold to deceive using rhetoric and other devices, there are resources to overcome and increase our own personal knowledge.

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