I am unsure of the following. It is mostly an idea, and justifications for the idea.
I am not sure if I want to actually adopt this idea as a goal, and the justifications as beliefs.

Advertising need not exist

Advertising is bad for consumers and competition. A world without advertising is possible, and preferable.

Arguments this document does not make

This document purposefully avoids framing advertising as manipulative and claiming that opinions formed under the influence of advertising are not genuine. This is because it is philosophically difficult to decidedly differentiate advertising, manipulation, recommendation and circumstance. In a sense, we are always manipulated by our environment, and there is no truly genuine decision. This document declines to attempt a classification here. Stronger arguments against advertising or specific forms of advertising are possible by examining this question in more depth.

What is advertising?

For the purposes of this document, advertising is

This does not include:

Why is advertising bad?

Fundamentally, advertising is about getting people to generate profit for a commercial venture. There may be many genuine reasons a person may want to or not want to do so. However, such desires are always subject to outside manipulation. In many ways, such outside manipulation is natural or even desirable. However, the effectiveness of discourse is significantly marred if there is a participant with significant stakes in the outcome (in this case, the commercial venture). It is therefore sensible to restrict this participant to providing factual information only, or being promotional only in places where this is easily recognized and expected (company magazines, the company website).

Doesn’t this restrict free speech?

We must only apply the above to situations where the undue prominence of the commercial venture generates profit, revenue, or liquidity for the commercial venture. In this case, I consider that the interests of free speech are less pronounced, because actions in furtherance of such overtly self-centered goals are not conducive to the usual benefits of free speech. Furthermore, this mostly affects corporations, which should not have free speech in the first place.

The question of free speech in this context is difficult to completely answer; mostly, it is argued that the benefits outweight the costs. A more narrow definition of advertising that drills down to the core elements that are objectionable may need to be sought to conclusively disregard the issue of free speech in this context.

How would companies attract customers?

It would still be possible to get the word out about a product by listing it somewhere. Customers are still able to issue recommendations and reviews continue to exist. Companies can write copy and presentations extolling the virtues of their product, it must however be the choice of the consumer to read or watch these.


Purchasing decisions would be based more on factual information, which would also promote competition.