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The American Marketing Association Code of Ethics: Instructions for Marketers

Edward J. O'Boyle and Lyndon E. Dawson, Jr.
Journal of Business Ethics
Vol. 11, No. 12 (Dec., 1992), pp. 921-932
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25072357
Page Count: 12
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The American Marketing Association Code of Ethics: Instructions for Marketers
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Abstract

This article addresses the two main obstacles - ignorance and conflict - that block the pathway to ethically proper conduct, both generally in business and specifically in marketing. It begins with a brief examination of theories of the moral good which emphasizes the Greco-Roman humanistic tradition and the Judeo-Christian religious tradition. A professional code of ethics, such as the code of the American Marketing Association, is meaningful only if human beings are regarded as making moral judgments that, objectively speaking, are morally wrong, that is only when the code is considered a set of moral absolutes. Following that, the question of ignorance is dealt with utilizing the American Marketing Association code of ethics. The specific items in that code are related to the three central principles of economic justice: equivalence, contributive justice, and distributive justice. In the second section, the question of conflict is encounterred in the context of four other ethical principles - double effect, culpability, good end and bad means, self-determination - that are likely to be helpful in dealing with two cases that are especially instructive because they are limiting cases: the dilemma and the hard case. The role of the hero or champion in conflicts is underscored.

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