PDA

View Full Version : A Series of Ethical Dilemmas~ #2 This Has Nothing to Do with Ketchup



heirokee
22nd August 2008, 7:02 AM
I've been curious about trying this one out for myself, but instead of just a simply survey I thought a debate would be more interesting.

If you know much about ethics, you've probably heard of a little thing known as the Heinz dilemma. I'll post it in its entirety a little further down. The importance that this hypothetical has in the world of ethics is that it was used to formulate Kohlberg's stages of moral development. These stages are basically the reason I wanted to debate this. What I'm most curious about is how we are willing to weigh these stages of moral development. By that I mean, despite the fact that we may have access to every stage of moral reasoning, does that mean that our reasoning always relies upon the highest accessible branch, or do the lower levels of morality have a certain amount of weight even though they are ultimately very rudimentary ideas.

Anyways, I'll post the Heinz dilemma now, and then afterward I'll summarize the six stages that Kohlberg proposes (sans stage 7 because nobody really has any evidence on it)


The dilemma:
A woman was near death from a special kind of cancer. There was one drug that the doctors thought might save her. It was a form of radium that a druggist in the same town had recently discovered. The drug was expensive to make, but the druggist was charging ten times what the drug cost him to produce. He paid $200 for the radium and charged $2,000 for a small dose of the drug. The sick woman's husband, Heinz, went to everyone he knew to borrow the money, but he could only get together about $1,000 which is half of what it cost. He told the druggist that his wife was dying and asked him to sell it cheaper or let him pay later. But the druggist said: "No, I discovered the drug and I'm going to make money from it." So Heinz got desperate and broke into the man's store to steal the drug for his wife.

Should Heinz have broken into the laboratory to steal the drug for his wife? Why or why not?


For this debate, I would ask that you answer the question at the end of the dilemma, and then fully, and I mean FULLY, explain your reasoning behind your answer. The debate has two stages:

1. Whether or not Heinz should have stolen the drug
2. Whether or not your reasoning is correct

This debate is interesting in that it will be hard to say exactly why somebody will be wrong in the second respect. While we can say that universal human rights exist and are important, why should they have more weight then selfish desires? Obviously you'll come up with something, I'm kinda curious where this will end up though.



For those of you would like to learn a little more, here's a rough description of Kohlberg's stages of moral development... I question telling everybody about these because it could influence your response, but I figure you all have access to the internet anyways so it's really not gonna hurt all that much.

Pre-conventional stages- Most common in young children, this level is purely egocentric and cares mostly, if not entirely, about the consequences your actions will have on yourself.

Stage 1 (obedience and punishment): Individuals focus on direct personal consequences. Things are wrong if they incite punishment, and things are more "wrong" when the punishment is more severe.

Stage 2 (self-interest): Individuals focus on direct personal gains. This stage of thinking doesn't really care about the needs of others, unless the needs of others will benefit yourself.


Conventional stages- Common among adolescents, this level judges the morality of actions by comparing the actions to society's views or expectations.

Stage 3 (interpersonal accord and conformity): Individuals focus on the perception that society has regarding their actions. "Do unto others..." is a good example of this stage. This stage also begins to consider the intentions of the action, and not just the ultimate result.

Stage 4 (authority and social-order maintenance): Individuals focus on obeying laws and other social conventions. In this stage, individual needs take a back seat as the need to maintain order becomes more important. Usually, a central idea determines what is right and wrong (i.e. fundamentalism). A single transgression opens the door for everybody else to commit crimes, and when a law is broken it is considered morally wrong.


Post-conventional stages- Also known as the principled level, in this level individuals realize that they are separate from society. In this sense, the ideals of the individual are viewed before the ideals of society. Because of the "self before others" idea, it's easily confused with the pre-conventional level; however, this level is much more developed in its thought processes.

Stage 5 (social contact driven): Individuals are known to hold different values and beliefs. Thus, moral reasoning is based on providing the greatest good for the greatest number of people, often through compromise. Those that are not achieving this goal should be changed.

Stage 6 (universal ethical principles driven): Individuals recognize universal ethical principles. Laws are valid only if they are just, and in order to preserve justice it is understood that some laws must be disobeyed if they are unjust. Decisions are met by adhering to a categorical imperative. In this sense, an action is never a means, but always an end, simply because it was the right thing to do and not because it was instrumental, expected, legal or previously agreed upon. Apparently, it is almost unheard of somebody to consistently reach stage six reasoning, and thus, it is the least common of all stages.


It should also be noted that it's rare for people to take the time to consider the ethical repercussions of their actions before doing them. However, for the sake of the argument, we're just gonna assume that Heinz took a lot of time to think about stealing that medicine.

Krug
22nd August 2008, 7:30 AM
I believe that Heinz should have broke into the Druggist's Store/ Lab. First, let's looks at the situation, there is a Man who has a dying wife and Greedy Druggist who just wants to get more money. The Man has good intentions of using that drug to save a life. So when Heinz presented $1000 (Which is still 5x more than what it took to produce the Drug) to the Druggist, then said his wife was dying, and he (The Druggist( said no. All the Druggist wants is more money, despite being now aware of the fact that the wife's death would fall on him for his greed. So Heinz, who still has a good intention, breaks into the man's store to get the Drug. The Druggist could technically be charged with Murder due to the fact that he still didn't give the Drug to Heinz, even though he technically had the correct sum of money. Murder is chargeable by Death, however breaking into a store is not, also Heinz was doing it to save a life of another. This means that Heinz had a better cause than the Druggist, and sometimes to do what is truly best, you have to break the rules a bit.

I think my reasoning is correct because Heinz is doing his act for a cause, as far as we can tell, the Druggist doesn't need the money, he just wants more of it. So Heinz has to do the only thing left to save an innocent life, and in my opinion, there is nothing of more value than an innocent human life, so, (Besides, Murder.) one should do whatever they can to save one, however, like Heinz they should never start with something that breaks a rule, and try to do the most lawful way first.

.TraX.
22nd August 2008, 11:30 AM
You can compare the druggist's refusal to sell something needed for life for a mere 1000 dollars less profit to a contract killing for the same value, disagree all you like, if you take it to base level it's true.

No actual input, just pointing that slightly interesting concept out.

Profesco
22nd August 2008, 1:01 PM
I'll be simplistic. (Totally unlike me, woah!)

If Heinze did consider all the ethical repercussions of the action, then I'll assume that means he reached the higher stages of moral thought.

Yeah, he should have stolen the medicine. Many people came together to provide the means for him to save his wife, not just him. That's many more people whose desires to save the womans' life outweigh the single desire of the pharmacist to make an inordinately large profit.

Conquistador
22nd August 2008, 1:49 PM
This scenario is a thinly veiled example of the much more fundamental question of Consequentialism vs Deontology.

Consequentialism states that the moral merit of an action is found (and thus should be judged) purely by its consequences. Most consequentialists would therefore say that it was right for Heinze to steal the medicine.

Deontology on the other hand states that the moral worth of an action is purely and inherently found within the action itself, regardless of the consequences. Eg (and especially with Kant's 'categorical imperative') as a rule, the action of 'stealing' or 'killing' is wrong under any circumstances. By this, the action to steal the medicine would be considered wrong despite the fact that it would save his wife (the consequences) as 'stealing' is an inherently wrong action.

Probably a better example to outline the differences here is with the following scenario (not of course that heirokee's is bad!):

Say an air balloon is plummeting towards the sea where a score of sharks are waiting with keen eyes. The teacher and the five students have jettisoned all the extra weight they can yet still they descend. It is clear that there is only one boy, Gunter, who is of sufficient bulk to save everyone. Is it therefore right for the others to throw poor Gunter, who has done nothing wrong, to the sharks? If not, they would all surely die (including Gunter) anyway.

So basically the situation is either they all die (including Gunter) or just Gunter dies. Consequentialism would say that it is right to throw Gunter of to save everyone else, whereas Deontology would say that it is wrong as the action of murder (aka throwing Gunter off) is inherently wrong no matter the circumstances or the outcomes.


You don't necessaarily have to give your opinion so as not to divert your attention from the main scenario of the thread, but nonetheless, food for thought ^_^


PS: Lol, I hope this thread doesn't turn out the same way as the last one, heirokee! xD.

ironknight42
22nd August 2008, 5:54 PM
I just thought I would compare this to something...Les Misables
Jean Valjean...steals a loaf of bread to feed his sister and her multiple children the law practices Deontology and sends his to the galleys of Toulon for 5 years. The only difference is that the bread was not over priced he was mearly to poor to feed everyone.
In the case of Heinze is burglary is justifiable by most normal means of reason this is especialy true because of the x5 profits.

Maruno
22nd August 2008, 10:16 PM
I initially found it difficult to decide whether Heinz was right or wrong, but I eventually decided on right - he should have stolen the medicine.

The thing that stood out the most to me (and it stood out as I was reading the scenario, not while I was reading other people talking about it) is the pharmacist refusing to sell his medicine for a smaller profit (although a profit nonetheless). As it is not mentioned whether the pharmacist needs this money for anything (to keep his lab open, perhaps) or whether he simply wants more money, I'll assume it is simple greed.

The act of greed depriving someone of something important (like a life) is deplorable. Unfortunately, it's just the way the world works. If he was any kind of respectable scientist, he would have sold his drug at a lower price for the man (perhaps even gaining an extra case study on how his drug works, if he still wants some other kind of benefit).

It is mentioned that Heinz offered to pay off the missing $1000 at a later date when he had it, which should be perfectly acceptable to the pharmacist.

The more I examine this, the more I find that the pharmacist is at fault for denying the treatment. He is losing nothing but a bit of money (which he should be able to recover from elsewhere or from Heinz himself when he has that extra money), while the wife gets to live. Unfortunately, I suspect the law is weighed in favour of the pharmacist, and would allow the woman to die.

The only course left to Heinz, who loves his wife and has thought this long and hard, is to steal the medicine. He knows it's illegal, but he's willing to accept the consequences as he does it anyway. And since he's managed to break into a research lab, find the specific drug and escape, he's quite able, so congrats to him (but that's an aside).

A point to mention is that the radium for the treatment apparently costs $200, but this doesn't suggest the final product costs nothing extra to produce. Perhaps the medicine costs $1000 extra to refine the radium and prepare it as a treatment. But we'll assume the whole thing was produced for $200, shall we?



All in all, I don't like this example. There are too many niggly bits, I think. I'd rather discuss the hot air balloon example, since it's simpler (although it may be harder to reach a conclusion since the "saving" solution is still murder).

Assuming the teacher can't be thrown overboard (since I assume he'd weight more than Gunter), probably because none of the kids can fly a hot air balloon and the teacher can't explain how to before they splash, I would try to persuade Gunter to sacrifice himself. If he doesn't agree, then at the last possible moment I'd throw him overboard. It's regrettable, but I'd be happy to face the consequences because I'd know I'd saved as many people as possible (it was either Gunter or two of the other kids).

In this instance, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.



I'm having trouble finding the difference between Stages 5 and 6. Stage 5 seems to say that you should always try to benefit the greatest number of people the most, while Stage 6 suggests that you should do only what the majority of everyone else would do in the same situation (going by the Wikipedia article on it, which is hard to make sense of).

Stage 6, then, seems like impossible behaviour, because you can't know what anyone else would do in your situation as a) they haven't properly experienced it, and b) you're not telepathic.

I would say I'm Stage 5.5. I would try to do the best for everyone (needs of the many), but I'd still try to find a way that would keep me alive (I assume most people would want to stay alive). I'm selfish like that.

I'm reminded of the other debate similar to this about being the captain of a battleship that had accidentally wandered into enemy waters.

Strants
23rd August 2008, 12:57 AM
begin, I'd like to say that I'm probably overanalyzing. If my musings are wrong, then, yes, Heinz was in the right.

First off, it seems to me that everyone was biased from the beginning of this, looking at the logic, anyways. I don't mean that offensively, but look:

As it is not mentioned whether the pharmacist needs this money for anything (to keep his lab open, perhaps) or whether he simply wants more money, I'll assume it is simple greed. Why is the scientist had to just want money? Although that might not change the ethical situation, it is possible that he though Heinz was lying. If, for example, someone said their wife was dying and they could only pay $1000, couldn't they just go off and sell it for, say, $1500?

Another thing I'd like to point out is, apparently, Heinz either couldn't pay the extra thousand dollars, or just didn't want to. In most circumstances, putting a price on life is immoral. However, is the refusal to pay it any better? I think its worse. And, I'd be surprised if a couple didn't have at least $1000 in the bank.

I think I'll stick with the balloon example. So much less to nitpick at.

In the balloon example, I'd have to say throwing off Gunter is, overall the right thing to do. 1 life < 6 lives, and we want a minimum loss of life.
(On the lessons side, just don't fly over an ocean filled with bloodthirsty sharks!)

heirokee
23rd August 2008, 1:15 AM
The thing that stood out the most to me (and it stood out as I was reading the scenario, not while I was reading other people talking about it) is the pharmacist refusing to sell his medicine for a smaller profit (although a profit nonetheless). As it is not mentioned whether the pharmacist needs this money for anything (to keep his lab open, perhaps) or whether he simply wants more money, I'll assume it is simple greed.

Not that what you have done in assuming information that is not given to is wrong, but it's certainly one-sided. Everybody seems to assume that the druggist is simply greedy. There are, however, infinitely many reasons that these assumptions could be wrong. What if he needs the extra money to feed his family because he is in debt and they will die of starvation soon? What if Heinz's wife is a serial killer and he has ethical qualms towards healing her? The reason none of this information is given (and a big reason that this example is used so frequently) is that the only things we actually know are the desires of Heinz. This is fairly realistic in that, generally, when acting upon ethical dilemmas we only know what WE ourselves know. We don't have access to all the information.

This lack of information is important because it exposes a large portion of how we deal with problems. Every single person on this board so far has assumed that Heinz is a good person and that the druggist is a bad person for charging so much. I'm finding it hard to place any of these ideas over stage 3 or maybe 4. Post-conventional ideas require you to consider all parts, not just the hero's perspective.



I'm having trouble finding the difference between Stages 5 and 6. Stage 5 seems to say that you should always try to benefit the greatest number of people the most, while Stage 6 suggests that you should do only what the majority of everyone else would do in the same situation (going by the Wikipedia article on it, which is hard to make sense of).

Stage 6, then, seems like impossible behaviour, because you can't know what anyone else would do in your situation as a) they haven't properly experienced it, and b) you're not telepathic.

first of all, stage 6 is rare for a reason. It's not impossible, but it is unusual. Anyways, the stages differ in that stage 5 works on pre-existing agreements about what should be done to benefit the largest number of people. In this sense, actions are done because they will result in a positive outcome for everybody... or at least a lot of people. Stage 6 is different (and commonly confused with pre-conventional ideas because of its difference) in that actions taken on stage 6 level are done because they are right, and not because they will bring about right. Stage 6 does not compromise to reach an outcome. In stage 6, it is understood that actions themselves can be right and wrong, regardless of the outcome. All stages before this rely upon the outcome of an event to dictate its morality.

It's not so much that you take into account everyone's views, so much as it is doing what everybody inherently knows is the morally correct thing.





Two more things:

1. It's "Heinz" not "HeinzE." There's no E at the end... it's annoying me.

2. Don't worry about the balloon one. For the purposes that I'm getting at, the example is inferior in several ways. A large one being that the example is too rudimentary. The Heinz dilemma is a staple because it works exactly as it is supposed to and there is little way that we could improve. Besides, the debate is about that particular story. Even though it is working to discover various concepts, the story is an integral part in determining them, it doesn't work the same way with any other scenario.

Maruno
23rd August 2008, 2:10 AM
Not that what you have done in assuming information that is not given to is wrong, but it's certainly one-sided. Everybody seems to assume that the druggist is simply greedy. There are, however, infinitely many reasons that these assumptions could be wrong. What if he needs the extra money to feed his family because he is in debt and they will die of starvation soon? What if Heinz's wife is a serial killer and he has ethical qualms towards healing her? The reason none of this information is given (and a big reason that this example is used so frequently) is that the only things we actually know are the desires of Heinz. This is fairly realistic in that, generally, when acting upon ethical dilemmas we only know what WE ourselves know. We don't have access to all the information.

This lack of information is important because it exposes a large portion of how we deal with problems. Every single person on this board so far has assumed that Heinz is a good person and that the druggist is a bad person for charging so much. I'm finding it hard to place any of these ideas over stage 3 or maybe 4. Post-conventional ideas require you to consider all parts, not just the hero's perspective.
Honestly, I'm trying, and I'm a scientist so I like having all the information to hand. Since I don't, I'm forced to make assumptions.

My conclusion (that Heinz was right) would stand regardless of the wife being a serial killer, the pharmacist needing funds, and so on. It's the difference between life and death for someone, and the greater good would be the wife living (+1 alive people). A life is more than money.

From what I know (and perhaps idolise, I admit) of scientists, I'd say this pharmacist isn't acting in the best way. Of course, I don't know his situation, so I assume greed (which is the simplest and most likely reason, because lots of humans are greedy). Given that, my conclusion stands even firmer, but that's because I don't like over-the-top greed like that (jacking the price up so much). I'm of the opinion that football teams and player should donate at least 50% of their earnings to scientific research or the government or some other good cause. People should get what they earn, and running around a field for a while shouldn't earn someone as much as it does.



first of all, stage 6 is rare for a reason. It's not impossible, but it is unusual. Anyways, the stages differ in that stage 5 works on pre-existing agreements about what should be done to benefit the largest number of people. In this sense, actions are done because they will result in a positive outcome for everybody... or at least a lot of people. Stage 6 is different (and commonly confused with pre-conventional ideas because of its difference) in that actions taken on stage 6 level are done because they are right, and not because they will bring about right. Stage 6 does not compromise to reach an outcome. In stage 6, it is understood that actions themselves can be right and wrong, regardless of the outcome. All stages before this rely upon the outcome of an event to dictate its morality.

It's not so much that you take into account everyone's views, so much as it is doing what everybody inherently knows is the morally correct thing
So, Stage 6 is something like the death sentence for a serial murderer who is already serving a proper life sentence (i.e. locked up until dead)? The murderer won't hurt anyone else if he remains alive, and the outcome of "kill him or not" is the same either way (pretty much so, anyway), but killing him is the right thing to do because it's punishment. Something like that?

Sounds hard to define, I must say. Must be psychology.

heirokee
23rd August 2008, 3:28 AM
So, Stage 6 is something like the death sentence for a serial murderer who is already serving a proper life sentence (i.e. locked up until dead)? The murderer won't hurt anyone else if he remains alive, and the outcome of "kill him or not" is the same either way (pretty much so, anyway), but killing him is the right thing to do because it's punishment. Something like that?

Sounds hard to define, I must say. Must be psychology.

Not really... that's quite a bit more like stage 1...

Stage 6... well... it's confusing, and a little hard to explain, but I'll try.

So, stage 5 exists because it demonstrates a need to protect individual rights and uphold democratic processes. Stage 6 asks why those rights exist in the first place. While stage 5 could decide that something which helps the overwhelming majority but hinders a minority is good, stage 6 believes that is bad BECAUSE it hinders the minority. It hinges on a belief that the principles of justice are based upon equal respect for ALL people.

In terms of this exercise, stage 6 can only be reached one way. The druggist, the wife, and Heinz would all have to consider what they would want if they were in both of the other persons' shoes. In this sense, Heinz was wrong for taking the drug, because the druggist should have given it to him. Assuming that people value life over property, the druggist would realize that he would not want to be in the wife's position and have somebody else's property valued over his own life. Thus all three parties would come to a fair conclusion: the druggist would give Heinz's wife the drug. However, this only works if all parties are given full and equal respect. Because the druggist gives less value towards the wife than he does his property, and because Heinz gives less value to the druggist's property than he does the life of his wife, stage 6 was not able to be reached.

Stage 6 also differs from stage 5 as it is more prone to civil disobedience as a solution. Stage 5 would regard perfect civil obedience as the ultimate good, or at the very least would be far less inclined to break the law in order to preserve good. Stage 6 recognizes that social contracts are not always beneficial to everyone and thus would be willing to break these contracts in order to help everyone.

Your example of the murderer is wrong because the murderer has a right to his own life. If you were the murderer, you probably would not wish to be killed, and thus, killing him would be a bad thing. However, if all parties agreed that they would approve of their own death given the situation, you would be correct... I just don't find that very likely.


That's about the best I can do. Actually, Kohlberg himself refers to stage 6 as "theoretical" as it's exceptionally rare to find anybody who consistently reasons at a stage 6 level. As a result, when he conducted his own tests, he ultimately scored all post-conventional thinkers as 5's, despite the fact that some may have been worthy of a 6.

Obviously, explaining how stage 6 would work in the context of the dilemma has kind of screwed any chance of finding anybody who might think on that level, but whatever, it probably wasn't going to happen anyways.

Maruno
23rd August 2008, 7:40 PM
I never liked psychology, nor "what if" scenarios for that matter. Why concentrate on things that don't exist when there's a lot that does? There's no need to see how people would react to a scenario that would never happen, and even less need to categorise people according to their potential reactions (I think categorising people that much is wrong, mistaken and pointless in the first place).

Assuming I might understand Stage 6, how could anything ever be done by a group of Stage 6 people? There's always going to be people who disagree to anything, regardless of what it is, and you're saying Stage 6 people shouldn't do something that anyone would disagree with, or suffer because of.

It's a theoretical position because it's practically impossible to function with it, as far as I can tell. I'm not surprised no one can consistently reach it.

By the way, does the numbering of the Stages relate to, say, the acceptability of those positions? Is a Stage 5 person "better" than a Stage 3 person (say, in the eyes of really enlightened people, or society or whatever)? Or are they just numbers?

Profesco
23rd August 2008, 9:53 PM
Every single person on this board so far has assumed that Heinz is a good person and that the druggist is a bad person for charging so much.

Well, yeah. I was assuming that (lol), but I based my answer on the number of desires on each side, not mainly on whether either side was particularly more good than the other. ^_^;

As for stage 6 reasoning, it implies that stealing in any situation is inherently wrong (am I correct, heirokee?), which I agree with. The actual moral value won't change. However, context and circumstance can allow for practical justification of most anything.

ImJessieTR
23rd August 2008, 10:54 PM
With my luck, the guy would steal the drug, give it to his wife, but she would die of complications because, since he's not a pharmacist, would not know how much to give her, and he couldn't sue the pharmacist because he stole the drug anyway.

The problem with stealing it outright is that if the wife is cured, everybody will do the math. Now, as a supposedly mature adult, he should be proud of the fact that he saved her life, but he shouldn't whine when he gets busted. As long as he's willing to accept the consequences, I don't see a problem with him stealing it.

MUCH BETTER SOLUTION: Kidnap the pharmacist's family and blackmail/swindle/etc to get him to give the wife the drug "willingly". This is, of course, only if the pharmacist is just being a greedy pig.

Well, okay, he could also try getting the guy's license pulled or something, then ... hey, if the pharmacist doesn't have a patent on it ... couldn't someone else just use the formula?

Should the pharmacist actually have a "good" reason to exploit the cost, then perhaps a community meeting is in order to barter away the difference. There has to be SOME solution that benefits all parties.

heirokee
24th August 2008, 1:52 AM
Assuming I might understand Stage 6, how could anything ever be done by a group of Stage 6 people? There's always going to be people who disagree to anything, regardless of what it is, and you're saying Stage 6 people shouldn't do something that anyone would disagree with, or suffer because of.

It's a theoretical position because it's practically impossible to function with it, as far as I can tell. I'm not surprised no one can consistently reach it.

By the way, does the numbering of the Stages relate to, say, the acceptability of those positions? Is a Stage 5 person "better" than a Stage 3 person (say, in the eyes of really enlightened people, or society or whatever)? Or are they just numbers?

First of all, they're given these numbers because each level requires more thought or more understanding in order to work. The first levels are basic and ego centric, the next ones are defined by the reception of other people, the last ones are abstract and more dependent on what will ultimately create good for everyone. There are also significantly less people who are able to think in post-conventional levels then there are in the previous two levels (typically people get to about level 4 and just sit there). So, in that sense, I guess you could say a stage 5 is better than a stage 3, but that's one of the debates now isn't it?



As to your first comments, you are wrong. Stage 6 reasoning understands that all people have a few basic universal rights that we all agree on. The right to life is a pretty big one. Realistically, there are ALWAYS downsides to every action; however, stage 6 reasoning does actions that have a net benefit for everyone. These downsides are significantly less extreme than the positive gains that can be achieved for all parties, so they end up not mattering much. In the Heinz example, it benefits all parties because, should any party be in the wife's position, they would gain the most benefit from the drug. The druggist would still make a profit of $800, Heinz would still have a wife to cook and clean for him (I know that's sexist but we're assuming that she was a housewife), and the wife would still be alive. If any one of them were in any of the others' positions they would all view this as a positive action.

You are correct about the practicality of it though. People don't consistently think like this (in fact Kohlberg theorized that only 25% of the human population ever reaches this level of moral reasoning, let alone use it on a consistent basis) because it requires participation from several parties if it were to work in the real world. This hypothetical is useful because it provides a situation in which the highest levels of moral reasoning can potentially be used. The question isn't about how it can practically be used, the question is whether or not you even have the cognitive ability to use it in the first place. However, the practicality could be grounds for arguing that stage 6 is inferior to lower stages of moral reasoning... not that I'm saying you should do that... just implying very heavily.




As for stage 6 reasoning, it implies that stealing in any situation is inherently wrong (am I correct, heirokee?), which I agree with. The actual moral value won't change. However, context and circumstance can allow for practical justification of most anything.

No, it merely implies that actions which hinder others' rights are wrong. Should stealing be beneficial to everyone, then that action would be morally correct. Stage 5 would argue that stealing under any circumstances is wrong as it disturbs the social contract that we all have against stealing. So, I suppose the moral value would change, in this scenario, in stage 6 reasoning, stealing is wrong because should they be the druggist they would suffer a disadvantage. However, if say, the radium was rapidly leaking and giving the druggist cancer while it was sitting in his store, and the druggist was aware of this. Stealing might be considered acceptable as it saves two lives by protecting the druggist and curing the wife. There are probably better examples, that's just all I could think of at the moment.

Conquistador
24th August 2008, 2:06 AM
Mmm. After reading all your posts it would seem that everyone is bickering/discussing all the aspects of the story and giving your opinions (which are all the same lol). You are all overlooking the larger and much more important debate which is poked at by use of the story of deontology vs. consequentialism.

The reason why I believe that the balloon story highlights this debate much better is because the action (means) needed to achieve the desired consequences (ends) is much more severe. It is murder, the killing of another life, as opposed to petty theft which in itself is a much less severe action.

Just my two cents.

Maruno
24th August 2008, 3:14 AM
In the Heinz example, it benefits all parties because, should any party be in the wife's position, they would gain the most benefit from the drug. The druggist would still make a profit of $800, Heinz would still have a wife to cook and clean for him (I know that's sexist but we're assuming that she was a housewife), and the wife would still be alive. If any one of them were in any of the others' positions they would all view this as a positive action.
Clearly I would have made the pharmacist to simply accept the $1000, but that's not the scenario. Once again, the one most at fault in the scenario given is the pharmacist for not lowering his price (nor accepting a delayed payment).

Time for my next summary of the last two Stages. Essentially, both Stage 5 and Stage 6 say "the best course of action is the one that benefits the most people", but Stage 5 says "the law's the law, and breaking the law is wrong full stop" while Stage 6 says "the law may be broken if it ultimately benefits everyone (and not just most people)".

Am I getting closer yet?

Stage 5 people would throw Gunter out of the balloon, and Stage 6 people would ask if anyone willing to die would throw themselves out to save the rest (and failing that, everyone dies, because killing Gunter doesn't benefit him). I'd go for Stage 5 every time, because the result of the likely failure of Stage 6 is worse. I would try to save as many people as possible (with a slight bias towards saving myself) regardless of the means. I wouldn't like it, and I'll go to jail forever, but it's extreme circumstances and I'll do it, for the benefit of the nameless others in the balloon.

heirokee
24th August 2008, 7:57 AM
Mmm. After reading all your posts it would seem that everyone is bickering/discussing all the aspects of the story and giving your opinions (which are all the same lol). You are all overlooking the larger and much more important debate which is poked at by use of the story of deontology vs. consequentialism.

The reason why I believe that the balloon story highlights this debate much better is because the action (means) needed to achieve the desired consequences (ends) is much more severe. It is murder, the killing of another life, as opposed to petty theft which in itself is a much less severe action.

Just my two cents.

The reason, at least for myself personally, that we are overlooking the debate of deontololgy vs. consequentialism is that that is simply not the debate. You simplify the problem far too much. It's not simply a question of whether or not the ends justifies the means, but a question of why the ends could possibly justify and how one could come about a thought process like this. Yes, that is one of the questions, but honestly, all but stage 6 moral reasoning believe at least partially in a consequentialist standpoint. Knowing this, what could cause stage 3 to be superior/inferior to stage 4?

The amount of variables in the Heinz dilemma are far more productive to this argument. A particularly notable reason is that the Heinz dilemma allows for situations in which all parties win, while your balloon example does not. No matter what, your example results in the life of at least one party (be it yourself, Gunter, the rest of the students, or the sharks) being lost. I can honestly say that stage 6 reasoning can be used in this situation, but it is less clearly defined because of the obvious loss to at least one party involved. Ultimately, the example suffers the same problem that your proposed debate does, it is far too simple. More variables would allow for a wider range of more clearly defined examples.

EDIT: After thinking about it, there's one other REALLY big problem. The question is left unanswered in your example. What I mean by that is that the balloon example requires readers to decide whether or not to ditch Gunter, the Heinz dilemma says that Heinz has already stolen the drug and simply asks whether or not he should have. Moral reasoning is significantly harder to use when determining an action than it is when judging previous action.


If you're curious, stage 6 reasoning for the balloon would probably work like this. The teacher does not want to die and wishes to save all of the students. The four other students do not want to die. Gunter does not want to die. The sharks would like to eat. However, the needs of the sharks are given less value than the needs of the people, because they are not human, and the want of the teacher to save all students is given less weight because it is a want and not a need. Because of the lack of extraneous variables, things get a little hairy after this. Honestly, the problem is that they should have never had to be in this situation because the teacher obviously made some very poor choices regarding fuel, destination, and passenger weight, but they're in it now, so they're going to have to deal with some negatives. Stage 6 reasoning would first assume that given the situation, they are all essentially dead and they are merely wishing to make gains on that (i.e. changing status from dead to not dead). In this situation what would first be asked is whether or not any two people other than Gunter, or whether or not Gunter has a death wish and whether or not the teacher has any particular qualms with said students and their parents. I'm just gonna assume that the answer is no on all counts. So the next question to ask is how much of a problem all of the students and the teacher have with living life as a cripple. I would assume that since none of them wish to die, they would all believe that living life without an arm or a leg would be more good than not living at all. So, my solution would be to feed the sharks just enough that the balloon would level off and hope that whatever country this class is from has good medical care and access to some fancy prosthetics. I would think that no one person would lose more than a shin or so, but in the whole picture it is a substantial gain over death and the sharks even benefit from the situation. If however, the case is that the class prefers death to life without a limb, and/or life without a classmate, then the action which would benefit all would be to allow the balloon to plummet, because then the class gets it's wish of dieing and the sharks get a healthy meal. However, I find this unlikely because most people, especially students, are pretty opposed to death. Whatever the case, the ultimate goal in this situation is not what causes most good, but what causes least bad for all parties. Gunter's life is equal to all others, so it is not fair that his life should be given up for everyone else. Still, the real problem is that it would be wrong to throw Gunter off because it was wrong for the teacher to overload them and position them nicely over a bunch of starving sharks.

Honestly, I would just stick to stage 5 though and take a class vote. I'm gonna assume that it means we're all saying goodbye to Gunter, but I'm totally cool with that.



But that's enough of this, your hijacking the thread. NO! BAD POSTER! BAD!




Time for my next summary of the last two Stages. Essentially, both Stage 5 and Stage 6 say "the best course of action is the one that benefits the most people", but Stage 5 says "the law's the law, and breaking the law is wrong full stop" while Stage 6 says "the law may be broken if it ultimately benefits everyone (and not just most people)".

Am I getting closer yet?

Significantly. However, stage 5 doesn't really say that. Stage 5 is significantly less inclined to break the law, but that does not mean it is always against it. Stage 5 simply believes that maintaining social contracts is the most beneficial to society as a whole, and generally the law is considered a social contract. However, should the law be something like, say, all blonds should be executed, stage 5 moral reasoning would recognize this as bad because it destroys families and such and would ultimately lead to tremendous chaos, essentially destroying everybody's lives. Stage 5 follows laws only under the condition that they exist for the benefit of everyone. Should laws be created that hinder the majority, stage 5 reasoning would disobey them.

The key difference between the two is that stage 6 benefits everybody, but stage 5 will settle for a majority. Generally speaking, laws do benefit the majority, so stage 5 is usually inclined to uphold them.






Seeing as how this thread is not moving so well, I think I'm gonna give it another day and then I'm just going to post all of the answers and we'll figure out which ones are most right... essentially I'll just be abandoning the first part of the debate in favor of the second, because that's the part I care about more. Yes, there are right answers, but I think collectively, including the stage 6 one I posted, I'm pretty sure only about a quarter of them have been posted.

profpeanut
24th August 2008, 9:36 AM
I hate moral dilenmas. They always question your beliefs and judgements to the extreme. I was going to point out the old term "The end does not justify the means", but all the counter arguments had good basis in them. And also seeing that I should be studying for my term exams instead of going on internet boards, I think I'll skip this one out.

EDIT: Nice new avatar, Profesco.

Conquistador
25th August 2008, 9:14 AM
The reason, at least for myself personally, that we are overlooking the debate of deontololgy vs. consequentialism is that that is simply not the debate. You simplify the problem far too much. It's not simply a question of whether or not the ends justifies the means, but a question of why the ends could possibly justify and how one could come about a thought process like this.

I am however afraid that the Heinz dilemma is a debate about consequentialism and deontology whether you are aware of it or not.

As for I simplify the problem too much? It is quite the contrary. Rather I am looking at the example from a broader perspective. As somebody mentioned before, it is utterly stupid to bicker about one scenario. What nobody here seems to be understanding is how the scenario relates to ethics on a whole. Nobody seems to be seeing the big picture (or perhaps they are but you are preventing discussion on the matter).

And you are unwise to think that the question 'do the ends justify the means' is a simple one. It is anything but simple, and of course includes a 'why' in there that you seem to believe does not exist.



EDIT: After thinking about it, there's one other REALLY big problem. The question is left unanswered in your example. What I mean by that is that the balloon example requires readers to decide whether or not to ditch Gunter, the Heinz dilemma says that Heinz has already stolen the drug and simply asks whether or not he should have. Moral reasoning is significantly harder to use when determining an action than it is when judging previous action.

That is irrelevant. It makes no difference to the outcome whether the action has been done and whether it was the right decision to whether to action would be the right decision.


But that's enough of this, your hijacking the thread. NO! BAD POSTER! BAD!

I was never trying to hi-jack your thread, and you should have understood that. I was only ever trying to improve the quality of the debate.

As for now, I shall not be posting again unless I should feel the need to defend my own (as I feel now).

heirokee
25th August 2008, 11:16 PM
I am however afraid that the Heinz dilemma is a debate about consequentialism and deontology whether you are aware of it or not.

As for I simplify the problem too much? It is quite the contrary. Rather I am looking at the example from a broader perspective. As somebody mentioned before, it is utterly stupid to bicker about one scenario. What nobody here seems to be understanding is how the scenario relates to ethics on a whole. Nobody seems to be seeing the big picture (or perhaps they are but you are preventing discussion on the matter).

And you are unwise to think that the question 'do the ends justify the means' is a simple one. It is anything but simple, and of course includes a 'why' in there that you seem to believe does not exist.




That is irrelevant. It makes no difference to the outcome whether the action has been done and whether it was the right decision to whether to action would be the right decision.



I was never trying to hi-jack your thread, and you should have understood that. I was only ever trying to improve the quality of the debate.

As for now, I shall not be posting again unless I should feel the need to defend my own (as I feel now).



As I understand it, consequentialism vs. deontology is only one of the four most basic themes of ethics, so I would consider it a simple debate, in that it limits the debate to only one theme. The debate I suggest includes several themes, including what moral guidelines make something right and wrong (i.e. objective, subjective, relative), whether or not rules should be followed without exception or based on situation, and whether or not good and bad are related to the group or the individual.

And, yes, the Heinz dilemma itself includes that as a PART of the solution, but that is not, by any means, all there is to this debate. In order to successfully debate this, you need to broaden the topic, because essentially, all that deontology vs. consequentialism (or utilitarianism or egoism for that matter) solves is whether or not we can say stage 6 (or 5 or 1&2 respectively) is as good as the others.

Conquistador
26th August 2008, 9:42 AM
As I understand it, consequentialism vs. deontology is only one of the four most basic themes of ethics, so I would consider it a simple debate, in that it limits the debate to only one theme. The debate I suggest includes several themes, including what moral guidelines make something right and wrong (i.e. objective, subjective, relative), whether or not rules should be followed without exception or based on situation, and whether or not good and bad are related to the group or the individual.

Mm. You still don't appear to understand. For one, I am unsure where this whole '4 themes of morality' business came from, as I have never heard of such a term. However, my bickering falls under the statement 'the debate I suggest'.

The thing is, you never really made it quite clear about what we were debating. Were we debating whether it was wrong or right for Heinz to steal the medicine? If so, then it is indeed nothing more than a debate of deontology vs. consequentialism (to but label for generalization). However this debate is not as simple as you seem to believe and, in fact, it does encompass all the attributes or 'themes' you appear to believe it does not (such as subjectivism against objectivism against relativism).

On the contrary...


And, yes, the Heinz dilemma itself includes that as a PART of the solution, but that is not, by any means, all there is to this debate. In order to successfully debate this, you need to broaden the topic, because essentially, all that deontology vs. consequentialism (or utilitarianism or egoism for that matter) solves is whether or not we can say stage 6 (or 5 or 1&2 respectively) is as good as the others.


... Perhaps we were supposed to be debating the stages of morality. However there is little to debate here. The 'stages of morality' is simply used to describe how human moral sense develops over time and age. In themselves, the stages are not normative ethical theories at all and therefore one cannot be debated to be right and one to be wrong.

Instead, you should have been debating which normative ethical theory is correct. You shouldn't have been using the 'moral stages' but the theories themselves; consequentialism, deontology, hedonism, utilitarianism, egoism, altruism, naturalism, skepticism, relativism, subjectivism, absolutism, the categorial imperative, universalism and much more.

Instead of saying "Oh stage 11 is better than stage 7" you should've been saying "Oh subjectivism is correct whereas absoluteism is incorrect".

Ethan
26th August 2008, 10:49 AM
How about we get back to what heirokee originally wanted us to debate. It may or may not have been clear in the first post.

Heirokee, if you would kindly lay out what exactly you want us to debate (even though you may feel you already have, perhaps try re-wording it as to clear up confusion.)

After that I expect debaters to specifically stay on track with what heirokee intended for us to debate. Granted their may be broader topic to delve into(and are admittedly tempting to go into), but apparently that's not the want that the OP expressed.

So let's to re-focus here.

Thankyou.

heirokee
27th August 2008, 4:15 AM
I kind of think the two objectives of the thread are pretty clear...

the first to determine whether or not Heinz should've stolen the drug, and the second whether or not one reasoning is more correct than the others...


The reason these six stages are used is because they account for age and mental development, whereas ethical theories by themselves do not. The debate has a focus, whether or not you can see it. I suggest we just go off of what I posted to begin with and stop worrying about personal objections to how I should've done this. I was very deliberate in picking this topic. You could just trust that the question answers what I want it to.

Ethan
27th August 2008, 12:21 PM
I kind of think the two objectives of the thread are pretty clear...

the first to determine whether or not Heinz should've stolen the drug, and the second whether or not one reasoning is more correct than the others...


The reason these six stages are used is because they account for age and mental development, whereas ethical theories by themselves do not. The debate has a focus, whether or not you can see it. I suggest we just go off of what I posted to begin with and stop worrying about personal objections to how I should've done this. I was very deliberate in picking this topic. You could just trust that the question answers what I want it to.


You could also not cop an attitude with me when I kindly suggest for you to do something. I already mentioned that you may feel that you were already clear didn't I? Don't get snippy with me when I try bring your debate back to focus.

End of discussion.

.TraX.
27th August 2008, 3:35 PM
Deontology on the other hand states that the moral worth of an action is purely and inherently found within the action itself, regardless of the consequences.

Translation: you remove the action from it's context.

That's a pretty poor way of looking at a situation given you're ignoring 90% of it.

Maruno
27th August 2008, 4:59 PM
Translation: you remove the action from it's context.

That's a pretty poor way of looking at a situation given you're ignoring 90% of it.
Agreed. The only fundamental truths of the Universe are found in mathematics, which means nothing else can be 100% right or 100% wrong regardless of whatever else is going on as well. Everything depends on everything else, and you have to take it all into consideration. Not to mention that "right" and wrong" are nothing but personal concepts anyway (although society forces most people to have the same idea of what's "right" and what's "wrong"), so one person will think something is acceptable while someone else will think it isn't.

Of course, this fact also allows debates to exist in the first place. I think deontology is inferior to consequentialism, and naturally someone else will disagree. There will never be an absolute "this is better than that"; the closest we'll ever get is "most people think this is better than that".