Free Capitalist Network - Community Archive
Mises Community Archive
An online community for fans of Austrian economics and libertarianism, featuring forums, user blogs, and more.

Child-directed advertising question

rated by 0 users
This post has 56 Replies | 3 Followers

Not Ranked
Posts 257
Points 5,000
QuisCustodiet Posted: Sat, Nov 10 2012 7:02 PM

Has anyone developed as a part of their child theory what kind of child-directed advertising would be legal in a libertarian society? If not, maybe be we could blaze the trail in this thread.

Should it be legal for firms to use, say, cartoons to advertise to children the following:

1. Vegetables

2. Happy Meals

3. Cigarettes

4. Hard narcotics

Suppose the cartoon characters in the ad encourage kids to do hard drugs and cigarettes either now (if mom and dad say it’s okay) or when they’re of age because hard drugs and cigarettes are "super cool" favorites of the cartoon characters. Let’s say it’s a "plant the seed while they’re young" approach, assuming that it is illegal for the children being targeted to buy the products without a parent. Would advertising these things to children then be legal?

If it should be illegal to advertise one or more of the four products mentioned above to children but not another/others, what is the reasoning? Where is the line drawn?

  • | Post Points: 65
Not Ranked
Male
Posts 1,018
Points 17,760

the company can advertise whatever it wants.

It is the job of the parent to restrict children's consumption of the television.

 

“Since people are concerned that ‘X’ will not be provided, ‘X’ will naturally be provided by those who are concerned by its absence."
"The sweetest of minds can harbor the harshest of men.”

http://voluntaryistreader.wordpress.org

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 257
Points 5,000

What if a company wanted to advertise a "do-it-yourself" suicide machine to children?

  • | Post Points: 35
Not Ranked
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Sat, Nov 10 2012 8:45 PM

Wtf is with your obsession with children? If you don't want your children watching tv channels that advertise suicide machines, then block the fucking channel. This isn't rocket science. Kelvin was right. Take some responsibility and don't patronize channels that advertise material you don't like.

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Male
Posts 1,018
Points 17,760

A companys only reason for advertising such product is if there is demand for it.

If your child is interested in this kind of thing, id suggest you send him to a shrink immediately...

“Since people are concerned that ‘X’ will not be provided, ‘X’ will naturally be provided by those who are concerned by its absence."
"The sweetest of minds can harbor the harshest of men.”

http://voluntaryistreader.wordpress.org

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 257
Points 5,000

@gotlucky

Wtf is with your obsession with children?

Because there is a gaping hole in libertarian theory when it comes to children.

@Kelvin

A companys only reason for advertising such product is if there is demand for it.

Not necessarily. An ad can convince you to want to buy a new kind of product. For example, an ad could say "Hamburger X, the one you've been eating for lunch every day, is bad for ABC reasons. Hamburger Y, a new Hawiian-themed sandwich, is better for DEFG reasons," thus creating a demand for Hawiian-themed hamburgers that people did not want before.

If your child is interested in this kind of thing, id suggest you send him to a shrink immediately...

The point is the child is not a fully-formed agent. Try to understand the issue.

  • | Post Points: 35
Not Ranked
Male
Posts 432
Points 6,740
Groucho replied on Sat, Nov 10 2012 9:20 PM

QuisCustodiet:

What if a company wanted to advertise a "do-it-yourself" suicide machine to children?

How do you feel about armed forces recruitment ads? I guess most people don't know about the secret button that contains the "Off" command. But let's think this through for a minute:

1. That machine is called a "television set", and it's here already.

2. How does a "company" - I assume you mean "business" - manage to have units on-hand of kids suicide machines to market in the first place? How did they accumulate the investment capital to produce them?

3. Why do you think another business - the TV station - would accept the ad for broadcast? It seems like it would reduce their viewing audience, no?

4. Are you sure you're not trolling? indecision

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. -H.L. Mencken
  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Male
Posts 1,018
Points 17,760

A companys only reason for advertising such product is if there is demand for it.

I misspoke.

A companys only reason for advertising such product is if it relates to the audience.

You wouldnt advertise skateboards and skatingparks etc etc on a channel that alot of elderly watch.

You also wouldnt advertise birth control pills, condoms, and penis enhancements on a childrens channel like nickelodeon.

If it doesnt appeal to the audience then youre just wasting your money.

If something like this DID happen, it is the job of the parent to protect the child against such things, if the child is not a fully-formed, mature, and conscious agent.

“Since people are concerned that ‘X’ will not be provided, ‘X’ will naturally be provided by those who are concerned by its absence."
"The sweetest of minds can harbor the harshest of men.”

http://voluntaryistreader.wordpress.org

  • | Post Points: 5
Not Ranked
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Sat, Nov 10 2012 9:39 PM

QuisCustodiet:

Because there is a gaping hole in libertarian theory when it comes to children.

No, there isn't. The only thing close to a gaping hole in libertarian theory is animal cruelty, and so long as libertarian theory is about law, that's they way it will be. 

Not necessarily. An ad can convince you to want to buy a new kind of product. For example, an ad could say "Hamburger X, the one you've been eating for lunch every day, is bad for ABC reasons. Hamburger Y, a new Hawiian-themed sandwich, is better for DEFG reasons," thus creating a demand for Hawiian-themed hamburgers that people did not want before.

So what?

The point is the child is not a fully-formed agent. Try to understand the issue.

So what? People's brains aren't fully formed until about 26 years of age. What does fully-formed agent have to do with anything? And don't forget when people start losing their mental faculties (e.g. old age).

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 257
Points 5,000

@Groucho

2. How does a "company" - I assume you mean "business" - manage to have units on-hand of kids suicide machines to market in the first place? How did they accumulate the investment capital to produce them?

3. Why do you think another business - the TV station - would accept the ad for broadcast? It seems like it would reduce their viewing audience, no?

Whether or not this scenario is likely is irrelevant. This is a question of philosophy.

4. Are you sure you're not trolling?

I understand this is a provocative question, but I am truly interested in the answers. I came to libertarianism through economics, so now that I'm looking into the philosophy, I'm beginning to get pretty upset about how undeveloped it seems to be in areas like child theory. Especially when you hear so often, "What about the children?" It's like libertarian philosophers don't want it to be accepted by the mainstream. Anyway, that's how it seems right now.

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 257
Points 5,000

Think of it like working out -- if you ask strenuous questions about libertarianism, the philosophy and those that adhere to it can become stronger.

  • | Post Points: 5
Not Ranked
Posts 257
Points 5,000

@gotlucky

QuisCustodiet:

Because there is a gaping hole in libertarian theory when it comes to children.

No, there isn't. The only thing close to a gaping hole in libertarian theory is animal cruelty, and so long as libertarian theory is about law, that's they way it will be. (Emphasis added)

Yeah, what would be the just law regarding advertising to children in a libertarian society? If that can't be answered, there isn't an ethical theory.

The point is the child is not a fully-formed agent. Try to understand the issue.

So what? People's brains aren't fully formed until about 26 years of age. What does fully-formed agent have to do with anything? And don't forget when people start losing their mental faculties (e.g. old age). (Emphasis added)

 

There's no possible way libertarian philosophy answers this question with "So what?". Come on.

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Sat, Nov 10 2012 10:44 PM

QuisCustodiet:

Yeah, what would be the just law regarding advertising to children in a libertarian society? If that can't be answered, there isn't an ethical theory.

Ah, I see. You want there to be a law prohibiting certain things from being advertised to children. Look, as far as NAP libertarianism is concerned, if there is no aggression, then it is legal.

There's no possible way libertarian philosophy answers this question with "So what?". Come on.

You are right. I am answering with "So what?". If you think "fully formed agent" (whatever that is) has anything to do with libertarian law, then you are gravely mistaken. Humans are not "fully formed" until 26. Well, that depends upon what you mean by "fully formed". Brains are not supposed to be "fully formed" until around age 26.

Could you possibly be suggesting that businesses cannot advertise anything unsavory to people below the age of 26?

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Male
Posts 432
Points 6,740
Groucho replied on Sun, Nov 11 2012 4:19 PM

QuisCustodiet:
I understand this is a provocative question, but I am truly interested in the answers.

It is not a provocative question; it is an absurd question. Do you really think the State is the reason we don't see Kiddies' Kevorkian Kits advertised on TV?

I came to libertarianism through economics, so now that I'm looking into the philosophy, I'm beginning to get pretty upset about how undeveloped it seems to be in areas like child theory.

"Child theory" . . . that's a new term. Is that the theory that the more politicians infantilize the population the more they are able to ram through and justify Nanny state regulations like drug prohibitions and happy Meal toy bans?

Especially when you hear so often, "What about the children?"

The rallying cry of statists, and as such it is completely devoid of meaning. It is designed to incite emotions, not rational thinking. If you've accepted that the State is necessary to raise children, I suggest you reexamine your premises. In contast to private charity efforts, State welfare creates permanent slums because it incentivises dependence instead of autonomy.

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. -H.L. Mencken
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 10 Contributor
Male
Posts 5,255
Points 80,815
ForumsAdministrator
Moderator
SystemAdministrator

To the OP:

Children have guardians, which may or may not be their parents. They are responsible for the child's welfare until it grows up.

Unless one can demonstrate an agent has aggressed by advertising to a child, they are in no way engaged in a bannable activity. The responsibilty rests with the guardian to scrutinise what the child watches.

That is the answer to the question. Sorry if it isn't sufficiently "mainstream", but I believe "mainstream" moral behaviour already incorporates this presumption, except that it seems to conveniently forget about it when it comes to conscription, the state's own advertising (read: propaganda) at all levels, signing up the unborn to debts they will never even have a chance to extricate themselves from etc.

So that is the answer to the question. You may not like it but too bad, this isn't a popularity contest. Therefore the question has been answered, but it isn't really the criterion of whether an ethical theory is one or not. Almost all ethical theories struggle a little with children, because they're not yet adults and therefore capable of understanding (in principle) what they're getting into. But this is the guardian's responsibility, and if they don't represent the child's best interests, they may have it taken from it and be sued for damages ,or worse, depending on what they do.

Freedom of markets is positively correlated with the degree of evolution in any society...

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Male
Posts 128
Points 1,855
Zlatko replied on Sun, Nov 11 2012 5:00 PM

While I agree that there are some very difficult questions concerning children in "libertarion theory", your particular scenario has to be one of the least plausible that I've ever heard of. I mean, companies advertising suicide machines? Seriously?

Anyways, the answer is that since it doesn't violate anyone's property rights, advertising aimed at children is legitimate. To the extent that it is seen as immoral, consumers will choose not to patronize TV channels, shopping malls, highways etc. that feature such ridiculous advertising, thereby driving them out of business.

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 257
Points 5,000

@Jon Irenicus

But this is the guardian's responsibility, and if they don't represent the child's best interests, they may have it taken from it and be sued for damages ,or worse, depending on what they do.

If the guardian can be sued for damages if they allow the kid to watch the advertising -- let's say the kid watches nothing but cartoon ads for meth -- why wouldn't the firm responsibile for the ad be sued as well? This isn't like the kid turned on the TV and saw an adult program; the firm directing their advertising at kids has the intention of targeting those not capable of understanding the risks of consuming the firm's product.

 

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 257
Points 5,000

@Zlatko

[Y]our particular scenario has to be one of the least plausible that I've ever heard of.

Thinking of unplausible scenarios is a good way to test the limits of your beliefs.

Anyways, the answer is that since it doesn't violate anyone's property rights, advertising aimed at children is legitimate.

It's not a question of advertising anything to children. Does that mean you can advertise meth to children, even if they might be well under the minimum age required in a free society? (Let's not get into whether or not there should be such a requirement for doing meth here.)

  • | Post Points: 5
Not Ranked
Posts 257
Points 5,000

@Groucho

It is not a provocative question; it is an absurd question. Do you really think the State is the reason we don't see Kiddies' Kevorkian Kits advertised on TV?

No. It doesn't mean that there wouldn't be twisted companies that cared more about hurting kids than making money. And my question is about philosophy; what would be legal in a free society. Law doesn't have to come from the State.

The rallying cry of statists, and as such it is completely devoid of meaning.

No, it's a legitimate concern.

If you've accepted that the State is necessary to raise children,

No, but I've accepted that there are people who want to do bad things to children that a third party should prevent. The question is whether or not advertising suicide to a child would be one of those things that would be prevented by a free society.

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 257
Points 5,000

Anyone else want to weigh in on this, factoring in the above three posts?

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Male
Posts 117
Points 1,935
h.k. replied on Mon, Nov 12 2012 12:21 PM

It is difficult for Children to enter into contracts with any company. If a company sells something to a moronic child they could be held responsible.

 

There has to be a meeting of the minds in Libertarian societies btw, so there's no contradiction. As stated before animal cruelty is the only unaccounted for item.

 

 

If you're just whining about unsavory commercials I'm not sure why Libertarians should care.

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 257
Points 5,000

If you're just whining about unsavory commercials I'm not sure why Libertarians should care.

First, I'm not whining. Second, I'm talking about commercials directed at children who cannot understand the nature of certain products (meth, cigarettes, sex, whatever).

Since you argue:

It is difficult for Children to enter into contracts with any company. If a company sells something to a moronic child they could be held responsible.

Wouldn't that mean the firm should be held responsible for trying to sell something to a "moronic child"? Am I missing something?

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Male
Posts 117
Points 1,935
h.k. replied on Mon, Nov 12 2012 12:35 PM

You still don't understand the nature of Libertarian contracts. Yes you are missing something, some "kids" are like six foot eight with full beards, and know exactly what they are doing (I know someone like this btw).

Some adults are mentally handicapped, guilt is determined on a case-by-case basis.

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 257
Points 5,000

Or even ads directed at parents encouraging the parents to give their kids certain products (drugs, cigarettes, et al.). Would it be legal in a free society to advertise violating the NAP? in this example, advertising child abuse? If that would be illegal in a free society, then logically firms encouraging parents in ads to buy/give to kids (let's say five-year-olds) hard drugs, no?

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 257
Points 5,000

Some adults are mentally handicapped, guilt is determined on a case-by-case basis.

This is another flaw of libertarianism. The mentally handicapped don't have the right to contract like everybody else, I assume, according to this.

Yes you are missing something, some "kids" are like six foot eight with full beards, and know exactly what they are doing (I know someone like this btw).

Okay, so let's say by "kid" in my example it means "a five-year-old".

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Male
Posts 117
Points 1,935
h.k. replied on Mon, Nov 12 2012 12:44 PM

Again this is a legal issue determined by a court. There is no universal answer and you need to stop looking for one.

It depends on how serious the creepy company is being. For example a Libertarian-Socialist wants to use force to take property from rich people. Should Socialists be prohibited from expressing their opinions because you're being sensitive? If someone is legitimately plotting a crime, that is a different matter.

 

Free speech is important, there's also a fine line between legitimately expressing a disgusting opinion and forming a criminal organization. In either case I've addressed the problem.

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Male
Posts 117
Points 1,935
h.k. replied on Mon, Nov 12 2012 12:45 PM

No the mentally handicapped are like children, mentally is there any difference?

 

You're just being obtuse, I've already answered your question you just want to make pre-crime legislation which is different. Anyone can see a five year old is unready for various things.

  • | Post Points: 5
Not Ranked
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Mon, Nov 12 2012 12:57 PM

Anyone else notice how QuisCustodiet managed to evade these points?

gotlucky:

Ah, I see. You want there to be a law prohibiting certain things from being advertised to children. Look, as far as NAP libertarianism is concerned, if there is no aggression, then it is legal.

gotlucky:

 

You are right. I am answering with "So what?". If you think "fully formed agent" (whatever that is) has anything to do with libertarian law, then you are gravely mistaken. Humans are not "fully formed" until 26. Well, that depends upon what you mean by "fully formed". Brains are not supposed to be "fully formed" until around age 26.

Could you possibly be suggesting that businesses cannot advertise anything unsavory to people below the age of 26?

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 257
Points 5,000

Again this is a legal issue determined by a court.

That doesn't answer the question! The question is what would the court determine in a free society. For example, a libertarian court would rule murder is illegal. Whether or not someone was murdered or killed in self defense, you have to look at the specific case. To look at a specific case in the issue of advertising, I provided one in the original post. So it's like a role-playing game -- how would you rule as a libertarian judge?

There is no universal answer and you need to stop looking for one.

Well, there's has to be a consistency of logic. You can't say it would be illegal for a firm to sell a product to a five-year-old, but legal for a firm to advertise the product to the child.

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Male
Posts 117
Points 1,935
h.k. replied on Mon, Nov 12 2012 1:06 PM

QuisCustodiet:

Again this is a legal issue determined by a court.

That doesn't answer the question! The question is what would the court determine in a free society. For example, a libertarian court would rule murder is illegal. Whether or not someone was murdered or killed in self defense, you have to look at the specific case. To look at a specific case in the issue of advertising, I provided one in the original post. So it's like a role-playing game -- how would you rule as a libertarian judge?

There is no universal answer and you need to stop looking for one.

Well, there's has to be a consistency of logic. You can't say it would be illegal for a firm to sell a product to a five-year-old, but legal for a firm to advertise the product to the child.

 

 

Attempted murder, attempted assault, etc. are all things courts deal with. This is what you're referring to, and it was addressed.

As for how I rule, it depends on the case and what was being advertised. A suicide machine for kids sold directly to them? That company is probably screwed, but their guilt must be proven in court. There must be an official way of dealing with creeps.

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 257
Points 5,000

Ah, I see. You want there to be a law prohibiting certain things from being advertised to children. Look, as far as NAP libertarianism is concerned, if there is no aggression, then it is legal.

In order for there to be no aggression, you need a fully-consentual exchange. If children are not capable of consenting to certain exchanges, then those exchanges are aggression.

If you think "fully formed agent" (whatever that is) has anything to do with libertarian law, then you are gravely mistaken.

Facepalm. Of course it does! A five-year-old cannot consent to certain exchanges. Surely not every exchange between adults and five-year-olds would be considered non-aggression.

Humans are not "fully formed" until 26. Well, that depends upon what you mean by "fully formed". Brains are not supposed to be "fully formed" until around age 26.

"Fully-formed" as in fully capable of understanding a given exchange.

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 257
Points 5,000

A suicide machine for kids sold directly to them?

Yeah. Cartoon characters and everything. It is explicitly for children.

That company is probably screwed, but their guilt must be proven in court.

By proving their "guilt" to you mean proving that they were specifically targeting children? Then you're saying it would be illegal to do so in a free society!

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Male
Posts 117
Points 1,935
h.k. replied on Mon, Nov 12 2012 1:14 PM

QuisCustodiet:

A suicide machine for kids sold directly to them?

Yeah. Cartoon characters and everything. It is explicitly for children.

That company is probably screwed, but their guilt must be proven in court.

By proving their "guilt" to you mean proving that they were specifically targeting children? Then you're saying it would be illegal to do so in a free society!

 

 

Yes, this is not a foreign concept to Austrians. Walter Block and Kinsella are very respectable on this particular subject.

 

 

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Mon, Nov 12 2012 1:21 PM

In order for there to be no aggression, you need a fully-consentual exchange. If children are not capable of consenting to certain exchanges, then those exchanges are aggression.

You need to support the claim that advertising consitutes aggression. Quit evading the issue.

Facepalm. Of course it does! A five-year-old cannot consent to certain exchanges. Surely not every exchange between adults and five-year-olds would be considered non-aggression.

FACEPALM. You have no idea what libertarian law is about. I have tried to help you in previous threads by either explaining or giving you short links to read. You are not attempting to learn.

Also, you are creating a strawman of my statement. I did not say anything about about consent in that statement. I said "fully formed agent" has nothing to do with libertarian law.

IF YOU ARE NOT GOING TO DEFINE WHAT A FULLY FORMED AGENT IS, THEN MY STATEMENT IS CORRECT BY YOUR CONCESSION.

"Fully-formed" as in fully capable of understanding a given exchange.

What an ignorant statement. Read here for more info. There is serious debate as to when someone is "fully capable of understanding a given exchange". And that might be at age 25. Are you suggesting we ban exchanges with people under 25 years of age?

Fully formed has nothing to do with libertarian law. The matter of being able to speak up for oneself or hire someone else to is what has to do with libertarian law.

IIRC, you chose to ignore that statement of mine previously. I'm curious, do you actually want to learn while you are here? Or are you content with making these ignorant claims about libertarianism and then ignoring people who attempt to have a discussion? 

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Male
Posts 432
Points 6,740
Groucho replied on Mon, Nov 12 2012 1:29 PM

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. -H.L. Mencken
  • | Post Points: 5
Not Ranked
Posts 257
Points 5,000

@h.k.

Walter Block and Kinsella are very respectable on this particular subject.

Do you have any suggestions?

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Male
Posts 117
Points 1,935
h.k. replied on Mon, Nov 12 2012 2:08 PM

QuisCustodiet:

@h.k.

Walter Block and Kinsella are very respectable on this particular subject.

Do you have any suggestions?

 

 

This is very long stuff but Kinsella discusses criminal plotting here:

 

http://www.mises.org/journals/qjae/pdf/qjae7_4_7.pdf

 

 

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 257
Points 5,000

@gotlucky

You need to support the claim that advertising consitutes aggression. Quit evading the issue.

I didn't make that claim. I claimed that advertising certain things to children (five-year-olds, let's say) -- that which they cannot understand, like hard drugs -- is aggression.

I did not say anything about about consent in that statement. I said "fully formed agent" has nothing to do with libertarian law.

You're right. But consent is important in determining whether or not an act is an aggressive one :P

"Fully-formed" as in fully capable of understanding a given exchange.

What an ignorant statement. Read here for more info. There is serious debate as to when someone is "fully capable of understanding a given exchange". And that might be at age 25. Are you suggesting we ban exchanges with people under 25 years of age?

No. I should hae said "'Fully-formed' as in fully capable of understanding a particular exchange." A five-year-old is fully capable of understanding some exchanges but not others. The exchanges that cannot be understood should be considered non-consentual, and thus aggressive.

 

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 257
Points 5,000

@h.k.

Awesome. I'll be sure to check it out.

  • | Post Points: 5
Not Ranked
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Mon, Nov 12 2012 2:40 PM

I didn't make that claim. I claimed that advertising certain things to children (five-year-olds, let's say) -- that which they cannot understand, like hard drugs -- is aggression.

My request still stands. Are you going to support that claim or not?

No. I should hae said "'Fully-formed' as in fully capable of understanding a particular exchange." A five-year-old is fully capable of understanding some exchanges but not others. The exchanges that cannot be understood should be considered non-consentual, and thus aggressive.

Did you read the link? There is evidence to support a claim that 17 year-olds cannot understand taking on tens of thousands of dollars in debt in order to pay for college. Is it aggression to advertise school loans to people 17 years of age?

  • | Post Points: 20
Page 1 of 2 (57 items) 1 2 Next > | RSS