Immoral Nature Of Manipulation
Referring to a person as a manipulative individual is often seen as accusing that person of possessing an immoral trait. However, humans try to influence one another from time to time, both directly and indirectly. So what exactly makes influencing a person through manipulation immoral?
Either consciously or unconsciously, most of us have attempted to manipulate other people at one point or the other. For example, with the use of guilt trips, a manipulator tries to make the manipulated person feel so guilty about holding a view or doing a thing contrary to what that manipulator would rather do. Also, we have manipulative advertisement aimed at making the audience develop false beliefs based on what favors the product being advertised.
Manipulation is often considered wrong primarily because it has harmful effects on the manipulated individual. There is no doubt that manipulation does cause harm to people sometimes. For instance, a manipulative cigarette advertisement can cause diseases to individuals , a manipulative social tactic can also be a breeding ground for unhealthy and abusive relationships and political manipulation tends to weaken democracy.
However, it isn’t all the time that manipulation has harmful effects and that implies that the harmful nature in itself isn’t the reason why manipulation is considered to be wrong.
Another reason why some people posit that it is wrong is simply because it has to do with using techniques deemed to be immoral modes of treating other people. This position sits well with those that buy into the idea of Immanuel Kant to the effect that morality demands we treat other people as rational entities and not mere objects.
To them, the only ideal manner to influence people is through rational persuasion. Conversely, anything other than that has to be morally improper. However, this thinking also has its loopholes because a lot of other manners of influencing will fall short of this standard. For instance, influencing by making a person fear a thing that is very dangerous or making a person have guilty feelings about an action that is actually immoral isn’t manipulative. However, they are still forms of non-rational influence.
The above goes to show that the manipulative feature of an influence depends largely on its usage. Advising a friend who is angry to desist from making decisions in the moment of anger isn’t manipulative given that you know the judgment of your friend at that moment will likely be unsound.
If a person tries to make you empathize with a person who doesn’t exist just to make you part with your money, that action is manipulative. However, appealing to you to empathize with those who genuinely need help isn’t manipulation. Rather, it is moral persuasion.
Thus, what makes a certain influence to be considered as manipulative is also the reason why it is considered to be wrong. It is the fact that the manipulative person tries to make someone else adopt what he or she actually knows and considers to be an inappropriate emotion, belief or any other state of mind.
In this wise, manipulation looks like lying. Just like manipulation, what makes a particular a statement a lie as well as morally wrong is that the maker of the state tries to make someone else adopt what he or she falsely believes.
In both instances, seeing that the other person makes a mistake is the intent. While the other tries to do this through the false belief, a manipulator does that and may even make the person have an inappropriate emotion or doubt a thing when there’s actually no cause to doubt. Thus, it can be said that the difference that exists between a non-manipulative influence and a manipulative one is determined by whether or not the influencer attempts to make the other person make mistake in thoughts or feelings.
How To Recognize Manipulation
Thus, it is important to be able to recognize manipulation. To do that, the type of influence that is used isn’t what we ought to take into consideration. Rather, it is important to consider whether that particular influence is used to improve or worsen the position of the person who wants to make a specific decision.
Thus, in recognizing manipulation, the manipulator’s intention and not the kind of influence is what we must put into consideration. That is because the existence of an intention to ruin a person’s ability to make a decision is what makes manipulation what it is.