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Practical identity is a description given to someone about their way of acting in the
world. It’s “a description under which you value yourself and find your life worth living
and your actions to be worth undertaking” (Korsgaard, C. The Sources of Normativity, p.
101). Often, our practical identities make claims on our actions. One who finds oneself under
the vegan practical identity must, for example, avoid actions that imply animal exploitation.
Similarly, someonewhose environmental protection is incorporated into their practical identity
must refrain from contributing to the environment’s degradation. The increasing demand
for environmental-friendly practices as well as the growing awareness on animal exploitation
have recently turned the so-called green initiatives into forms of easy profit. Certain
marketing strategies involve the process of generating disinformation in order to make an
audience believe that a product, service or company is more ethically committed than it actually
is. Those strategies appeal to people's ideas on their own practical identities - not just
as customers, but to their identities in a broad sense. As a result, those identities are used for
shady purposes often conflating with people’s choices behind those identities’ adoption. Examples
are people who understand veganism or environmental protection as part of their practical
identities and yet engage qua consumers in animal oppression or environmental degradation.
The aim of my analysis is to discuss how deception occurs in such cases and what are
the element involved. I will argue there are two frequently related factors on which deception
in engaging in green initiatives depends. The first is on who produces the message: the
promotion of alleged green labels is a discursive resource that implies intentionality in
deceiving an audience. The second, in turn, concerns the rationality adopted by those
who choose to engage with such narratives. Focusing in the last one, I will analyze the
relationship between practical identity and the phenomenon of deception. From a
philosophical perspective, I will argue that practical identity, although central to human
interactions, can in some cases render itself immoral and counterproductive regarding
the reasons one adopted it in the first place.
Maria Eugênia Zanchet
(Faculty of Cultural Studies, Universität Bayreuth)