Ethics and Consumerism: Legal Promotion of Ethical Consumption?

in The ethics of consumption – the citizen, the market and the law, Helena Röcklinsberg and Per Sandin (Eds), Wageningen Academic Publishers, 2013, pp. 141-146

Posted: 25 Sep 2013

See all articles by Fernando Dias Simões

Fernando Dias Simões

Lusíada University of Porto; Portucalense University

Date Written: September 2013

Abstract

Consumption patterns influence our quality of life in deep ways, having a substantial effect on both the individual and the society as a whole. Most consumption decisions we make on a daily basis may have an ethical content. Normally our ethical concerns result from personal beliefs and societal influences, not from the Law. The question then becomes whether public entities have legitimacy to impose certain dimensions of ethical behaviour and whether Consumer Law is the appropriate mechanism to achieve such purposes. Government’s role in moulding our consumption habits is doubtful as there is no consensus about the role that Law should play in the promotion of ethical conducts. Traditionally Consumer Law was aimed at protecting the consumer himself. Should legal intervention be expanded to guide consumer behaviour even when the protection of consumers as such is not the goal? In some cases public intervention may be justified with the impact of individual decisions on the community as a whole. In fact, the State is interested in controlling the social costs of individuals’ behaviours that are borne by society at large. However, going beyond the frontier of public interest may be troublesome. This new field of regulatory intervention touches upon some of the values that define us as a society: personal freedom, choice and liberty. Any intervention in this regard should consider the balance between individual freedom and public interest. Citizens should not be treated as creatures deprived of any moral or ethical character.

Suggested Citation

Dias Simões, Fernando, Ethics and Consumerism: Legal Promotion of Ethical Consumption? (September 2013). in The ethics of consumption – the citizen, the market and the law, Helena Röcklinsberg and Per Sandin (Eds), Wageningen Academic Publishers, 2013, pp. 141-146, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2330709

Fernando Dias Simões (Contact Author)

Lusíada University of Porto ( email )

Porto
Portugal

Portucalense University ( email )

Porto
Portugal

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