A Philosopher's Blog

Loud iPods

Posted in Ethics, Law, Technology by Michael LaBossiere on March 7, 2007

A lawsuit is pending against Apple that accuses the company of selling iPods and earbuds without warnings about the risk of hearing loss.

While it is quite reasonable to expect companies to warn customers about matters that are outside of common knowledge, it seems unreasonable to expect companies to warn people about things that are common knowledge. I recall learning in my grade school health class that loud noises can cause deafness and hearing loss. I presume that people who can operate an iPod have had at least an elementary school education and hence they should be aware of the effect of high volumes.

This law suit reminds me of the one brought against the makers of Oreo Cookies. The company was sued because Oreo Cookies were alleged to be unhealthy. Obviously they are-that is why people call them “junk food.” If a person does not know that cookies are not health food, then they clearly should be put under adult supervision.

Again, companies should warn people about dangers or risks that are not obvious or well known. For example, warnings about trans fat make sense-what foods contain such fats is not common knowledge. But, to require warnings for obvious things is expecting too much from the companies.

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