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This entry has two general aims. The first is to profile the practices of neuromarketing (both current and hypothetical), and the second is to identify what is ethically troubling about these practices. It will be claimed that neuromarketing does not really present novel ethical challenges and that marketers are simply continuing to do what they have always done, only now they have at their disposal the tools of neuroscience which they have duly recruited. What will be presupposed is a principle of proportionality: marketing practices are morally objectionable commensurate with the degree to which they impugn the moral sovereignty of market actors. With this principle in mind, it is important to consider the literature which is skeptical about the potential for neuromarketing to be successful. If its claims are overblown, as will be suggested, then the ethical threat neuromarketing is said to pose can be viewed also as overblown. An area that has worried many is that neuromarketing poses a threat to brain privacy, and so an analysis will be given of the nature of this threat, given the principle of proportionality. It will be argued that worries about brain privacy seem, prima facie, to be justified, but on closer analysis fall away. However, a residual threat to privacy does remain: the collection over time, and aggregation of private brain information, where the target loses control over its ownership and distribution.


Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

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