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Title: The Ethics of Advice
Author(s): BENZIMAN, Yotam
Journal: Ethical Perspectives
Volume: 26    Issue: 2   Date: 2019   
Pages: 201-215
DOI: 10.2143/EP.26.2.3286748

Abstract :
In this article I analyse the notion of advice, a subject that has been rather neglected in philosophical research. I claim that seeking advice does not necessarily issue from believing that the adviser is in a better position to know what the advisee ought to do. Rather, the advisee seeks the other’s opinion, because being uncertain what to do, in a matter of importance to one’s interests, makes one vulnerable. Agreeing to advise signifies to this person: you are not alone in this; I am with you. The phrase 'if I were you, I would…', which we use in giving advice, signifies that the adviser is, or should be, totally concerned with the other party, doing her best to put herself in the other’s shoes. Advice is thus intimate in nature, and this is true not only for advice given by friends, but also for official consultants. Such intimacy means that an adviser cannot estrange herself from the results of her advice if they are unhappy, claiming that she was ‘only’ an adviser and nothing more. However, the advisee, being an autonomous person, is free to ignore the advice, no matter how much effort has been put into it. This might portray giving advice as an ungrateful task. And yet, being there for others, which lies at the basis of the ethics of advice, is at the core our being social animals.

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