Fish Tales

Y’see, most men, they’ll tell a story straight through, it won’t be complicated, but it won’t be interesting either. —Edward Bloom (from the movie “Big Fish“)

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Does graphic design require a certain moral flexibility?

Ars moriendi, ca. 1460, Engraving by Master E.S.

In Thank You For Smoking the main character, Nick Naylor, a spokesman for a tobacco company, tells his son, “My job requires a certain… moral flexibility.” While every profession must deal with ethics in its particular field, graphic designers are trained to “make things look good.” The very nature of their core mission inherently lends itself to a certain “moral flexibility.” Anthony Grayling, Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London, and a Supernumerary Fellow at St. Anne’s College, Oxford, England thinks that asking graphic designers not to persuade is like asking fishermen not to fish—it’s what they are trained to do.

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