Phillip Morris has very strong values, although we might not agree with them—for instance, the value of “adult choice.”

The meanings of "adult" and "choice" are clear, but I think "adult choice" has a special meaning which I don't know. I didn't find any definition in online dictionaries.

So, could you please explain it to me?

The fuller Text:

Companies can hold ethically questionable values and still be very resilient. Consider Phillip Morris, which has demonstrated impressive resilience in the face of increasing unpopularity. As Jim Collins points out, Phillip Morris has very strong values, although we might not agree with them—for instance, the value of “adult choice.” But there’s no doubt that Phillip Morris executives believe strongly in its values, and the strength of their beliefs sets the company apart from most of the other tobacco companies. In this context, it is worth noting that resilience is neither ethically good nor bad. It is merely the skill and the capacity to be robust under conditions of enormous stress and change.

2 Answers 2


It means the ability of adults to make their choices. The ability of children to choose things might, the argument goes, be severely limited without it being unreasonable. The choices of adults, on the other hand, should be circumscribed only with very good reason.


To expand on SamBC's answer:

It is generally accepted that children may not do everything they want, since they are notoriously prone to making choices which will cause them harm without understanding the consequences of their choices.

Adults, at least in theory, are presumed to have enough experience to see the consequences of their actions. Unfortunately, despite this presumed knowledge, adults, too, are known to make decisions which will have unfortunate consequences. In the case of the quote, this is obviously the case with smoking.

Within limits, adults are granted autonomy, and it is accepted that they can make choices which work against their own interests. It is also accepted that they will have to live with the consequences. I'm sure you can supply examples.

There are exceptions, of course, and various social/political issues which deal with the subject (often contentiously - see the concept of the "nanny state"), but that is another subject.

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