Parent categories: Markets, Ethical advertising.

Ethics of Harm-Making in Market Making

How should we treat and use harm in market-making?

YAML Question

The society sometimes is quite stubborn, and likes to stick with the status quo, unless a disaster occurs, and here, among the most cunning of market acquisition practices is creating environmental harm to make a product or service necessary in that environment.


  • a shoemaker may be interested in polluting ground with pathogens, ants, sharp plants or objects, to make people want to buy shoes,
  • an anti-viral software development company may have an interest in introducing new viruses to boost its sales and drop production costs, as making antivirus for an own-made virus is much easier than to deal with an unknown one,
  • a drug-making company may be interested in spreading novel viruses, to make and sell antiviruses or vaccines for the very same reasons that a software company may.

However, sometimes the harm may be justified by a long-term greater good in treating human stubbornness and satisfaction with the status-quo.


  • Wearing shoes nearly completely eliminates the risk of feet infections.
  • Getting world's labs focus on fighting with a virus may accelerate advances in other fields of bio-technologies, treating a lot of other types of viruses, advancing life-extension or other related technologies, getting a lot of people to self-educate about biology ("collateral benefits").

However, the decisions to make-harm to make-market are always an ethical and pragmatic dilemma.

Increasingly, individuals are powerful enough to create such harms anonymously -- it's easy to seed cactuses, release ants, viruses, or do other harm to create demand for products made to fend from that harm. So, how should we make decisions to create harmful environment to create markets?

How could we prevent the criminal of harm-making in market-making, without the loss of valuable privacy and "collateral benefits"?

How could we justify the short-term harm-making for long-term benefit-making? (That is, how not to "throw the baby out with the bathwater" in some cases, when the long-term benefit outweights short-term harm.)

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