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The Heinz Dilemma


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#1 Rayvolution

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 09:53 PM

In the spirit of all the fun social/religious/political/philosophical kinda topics going on here I thought I'd start my own just for fun.

 

So, I was in my class at college today, psychology specifically, and a moral question was given to the class. Well, long story short, someone in the back of the class called me a  "Socialist Commie Nazi" for my answer to this question, and you'll see a transcript of that conversation below. But, it got my thinking, what would *you* do?

 

Originally I, nor anyone in the class had any idea this is actually a fundamental delimma given as a test to examine your morality stage. But what are you thoughts on the morality of this case?

 

Keep in mind, you answer has to be as cut and dry as the information provided. You can not add "Well I also would of done this also" or "Well what about this?" All your concerned about is what is in the text, and assume "all other options have been exhausted or are not available". Threat it like a retrospective story, what happened below is exactly what did happen with no changes, now you have to judge the morality of it.

 

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?

 

My answer to this is: "The value of a human life, any life, is more important than any material item. In all situations, the most moral thing to do would be to save the life." (Exact quote).

 

This was responded by someone in the back of the class saying "What? You think if you need something you can just take it?", I replied "In this situation, the life is worth more than any person's material needs, period. I would do this even for a complete stranger." then he said "yeah ok, whatever, that's no better than what the North Korea, Communist Russia and Nazis do. Take whatever you want because you need it! You're acting like a Nazi!". Where then I completely ignored him and went about class.

 

So, what would your answer be? Pick an answer in your head, then check below and see what stage you fall into. Reply with your *exact* answer and the stage you think you fall into. :D Don't feel bad if you don't reach the final stage, apparently only a small percentage of the population *ever* reaches Stage 6, most people are stage 4.

 

The 6 stages of development (DO NOT LOOK UNTIL AFTER YOU HAVE COME UP WITH AN ANSWER AND YOU CAN NOT CHANGE YOUR ANSWER AFTER YOU SEE THE OPTIONS!!!)

Spoiler

DISCLAIMER TO NEW APPLICANTS: Your answer will not reflect if you're getting on the server, this is NOT a silly social test. Don't worry about it! Just have fun. :D


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#2 SonnyynnoS

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 10:44 PM

I was thinking that someone's life is too important than following laws that would accuse you of stealing,

Stage 5 i believe
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#3 iliplayz

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 01:01 AM

Heintz did ok to steal the drug but he should have left the $1000 as compensation.

 

 

 

I don't think this is the answer you are looking for but i'll give you my general line of thinking.

 

Humans formed societies - and subsequently laws to guide them - for the sole purpose of maximising their chances of survival, both as individuals and as a species. ( Keep in mind that both of those drives are subconsiously embeded in all forms of life )

 

Stealing the drug covers the personal survival, the 1000 part makes sure that the drug can be replaced and thus the rest of the society is not in danger of being without it.

 

I'm adding some more explanation on how i think on this matter.

Spoiler

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#4 Rayvolution

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 01:15 AM

Heintz did ok to steal the drug but he should have left the $1000 as compensation.

 

 

 

I don't think this is the answer you are looking for but i'll give you my general line of thinking.

 

Humans formed societies - and subsequently laws to guide them - for the sole purpose of maximising their chances of survival, both as individuals and as a species. ( Keep in mind that both of those drives are subconsiously embeded in all forms of life )

 

Stealing the drug covers the personal survival, the 1000 part makes sure that the drug can be replaced and thus the rest of the society is not in danger of being without it.

 

I'm adding some more explanation on how i think on this matter.

Spoiler

 

Ironically, that was my first option too. I said I would break in, leave the $1,000 on the table, and leave with the drug. That way he still gets a profit for the drug (at a more reasonable rate, but that's not relevant) and the wife gets to live. That would be the best way to cover all the bases and still uphold the absolute of human life being more important than a material item, yet still provide fair compensation for the item.

 

Problem is, and like I was told when I said the very same thing, we're not allowed any other options but what actually happened in the story, he just broke in and took the drugs. All other possibilities are not part of your answer. All you're allowed to do is decide if what did happen was moral/ethical and your reasoning for/against it.

 

That's where my final answer came from shortly after (the one listed in my OP)


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#5 Koplee

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 01:29 AM

I don't think that morality is not an objective, measurable quantity... It is entirely subjective (although most people find common ground with obvious moral no-nos such as cold-blooded murder, ****, etc.)

 

Thus Heinz, from his point-of-view, was morally correct to steal the drug (since his wife would die otherwise).

 

However, from the point-of-view of the druggist, he was morally incorrect (since the druggist's world-view is obviously quite different to that of Heinz).

 

From my point-of-view, as a disconnected outsider, I would tend to the view that Heinz was morally justified in the theft, since the death of his wife would be reprehensible relative to the minor material loss of the druggist.

 

So... checking above, that puts me at Stage Six (whatever that means, Ray!)


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#6 Macflea

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 03:10 AM

My thought was "what if the druggist had a wife who was also terminally ill and he needed the $2000 for a cure for her?"

 

But since we have to assume all facts are included in the story and therefore the druggist is an idiot then I would rather go to jail for small theft and save someone's life than not do anything and see her die. Would I do it for a stranger? Yes, because what makes my partner better than someone else's partner?

 

I'm at Stage six.


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#7 iliplayz

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 03:12 AM

Thus Heinz, from his point-of-view, was morally correct to steal the drug (since his wife would die otherwise).

 

However, from the point-of-view of the druggist, he was morally incorrect (since the druggist's world-view is obviously quite different to that of Heinz).

 

From my point-of-view, as a disconnected outsider, I would tend to the view that Heinz was morally justified in the theft, since the death of his wife would be reprehensible relative to the minor material loss of the druggist.

 

Since this is more of a "chicken or the egg" mind puzzle - than an actuall philosophical debate - as i mentioned to Ray in game, I'm tempted to try and spin your answer a bit.

 

Both of them are moraly wrong and the action is not moraly justified.

 

Heinz put his own needs in front of another's ( he needs his wife to make him happy, loved , etc ) so he stole the medicine not caring for it's creator's wishes - i.e. the drug wouldn't exist if the druggist hadn't made it -.

 

The druggist is a greedy immoral person since he put's his own profit ( he's asking for 2000 when even at 1000 he has profit ) before human life.

 

The action is morraly wrong, since you shouldn't force anyone do what he doesn't want to do ( i.e. the druggist doesn't want to give the medicine for 1000).


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#8 Macflea

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 03:28 AM

The action is morraly wrong, since you shouldn't force anyone do what he doesn't want to do ( i.e. the druggist doesn't want to give the medicine for 1000).

 

I can think of certain situations where you have to force people to do what they don't want to do. In my line of work we have to abide by the Mental Capacity Act. "A person must be assumed to have capacity unless it is established that he lacks capacity."

Sometimes you have to make decisions for someone's own good if they do not have the ability to do so.

 

However, what you are saying also means we shouldn't force people to go to jail, because no one would actually want to, or if a kid doesn't want to go to bed we should just let them and never give discipline, because who wants to be smacked?


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#9 Captain_Marko

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 03:45 AM

I've done this "test' before so I won't take part but it may be interesting to note that it was originally undertaken with young children as the subjects  8)  The test is one of a number that Lawrence Kohlburg used when developing his Theory of Moral Development - controversy continues about male dominance in the test subjects and an emphasis on justice over caring in the construction of the dilemma itself.

 

There are alternatives such as Haidt's who theorised that emotions are a more important driver than reason in such situations. That's the view that I am more inclined to support.

 

Have fun!


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#10 simonparnell

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 04:11 AM

The thing I find wierd is the comment about commie nazi.  Given the US (and every other powerful nation) behaviour is and has been the same with regards to taking what they want and justifying it later.

 

Morality is in my opinion a human delusion. 


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#11 Koplee

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 04:38 AM

Both of them are moraly wrong and the action is not justified.

 

Maybe from your perspective this is true, however, as I stated above, I think there is no fixed, irrefutable scale of moral right/wrong (nor can there ever be since we all have differing priorities in our lives).

 

Morality is relative to those involved - one person's 'right' is another's 'wrong'. So the original question is misleading, since we are not told from whose perspective to judge the situation by.

 

[Never having formally studied philosophy, I'd be keen to know if there is in fact a school of thought that declares there to be an immutable morality that we all adhere to]


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#12 Koplee

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 04:40 AM

P.S. I'm really happy to have been allowed to join 60G - what an amazing collection of smart, interesting people you are!  :D


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#13 iliplayz

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 04:49 AM

The action is morraly wrong, since you shouldn't force anyone do what he doesn't want to do ( i.e. the druggist doesn't want to give the medicine for 1000).

 

I can think of certain situations where you have to force people to do what they don't want to do. In my line of work we have to abide by the Mental Capacity Act. "A person must be assumed to have capacity unless it is established that he lacks capacity."

Sometimes you have to make decisions for someone's own good if they do not have the ability to do so.

 

However, what you are saying also means we shouldn't force people to go to jail, because no one would actually want to, or if a kid doesn't want to go to bed we should just let them and never give discipline, because who wants to be smacked?

Firstly you seem to be mixing the puzzle with my point of view ( my real life answer is in my first post, my second post is a debate on the morals of the story )

Secondly you are using an outside law ( Mental capacity act) which doesn't belong to the given puzzle. ( Not to mention that laws and morals don't always go hand in hand )

Thirdly you are misinterpreting what i mean by "doesn't want to do". Going to jail is a consequence for changing the balance of the current status ( i.e you perforrm an ACT of crime and the jail is a way to rectify the imbalance created by said action).

The case of a kid that doesn't want to go to bed and other disipline stuff - apart from the fact that it has absolutelly nothing to do with morals - has to do with you wanting it to adapt to a way of living that will help it in the future.

 

 

In our case it is obvious that the druggist has full mental capacity and is breaking no laws by not wanting to sell the drug. Also the death of someone else's wife in the given puzzle does not affect him in any way - she could have been hit by a car for all he cares -  Being forced to do something he doesn't want to - i.e. sell the medicine for less - is morally wrong.

 

If it helps you understand what i mean just replace the medicine with blood.

 

i.e. Let's say Heinz's wife was in dire need of 2 bags of blood and there was only 1 person able to donate that type of blood. He want's 2k for a donation but Heinz only has 1k. Keep in mind that by donating 2 bags of blood will in no way endager that person's life and it will be replaced naturally in a few days. Does that mean that Heinz is moraly justified to sedate him and steal his blood?

 

 

 

Both of them are moraly wrong and the action is not justified.

 

Maybe from your perspective this is true, however, as I stated above, I think there is no fixed, irrefutable scale of moral right/wrong (nor can there ever be since we all have differing priorities in our lives).

 

Morality is relative to those involved - one person's 'right' is another's 'wrong'. So the original question is misleading, since we are not told from whose perspective to judge the situation by.

I fixed my phrasing . ... it should have said "moraly justified".

 

Unfortunatelly morality does not depend on the point of view. Justification of actions might be all shades of gray, but morality is black or white.


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#14 Macflea

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 05:12 AM

 

The action is morraly wrong, since you shouldn't force anyone do what he doesn't want to do ( i.e. the druggist doesn't want to give the medicine for 1000).

 

I can think of certain situations where you have to force people to do what they don't want to do. In my line of work we have to abide by the Mental Capacity Act. "A person must be assumed to have capacity unless it is established that he lacks capacity."

Sometimes you have to make decisions for someone's own good if they do not have the ability to do so.

 

However, what you are saying also means we shouldn't force people to go to jail, because no one would actually want to, or if a kid doesn't want to go to bed we should just let them and never give discipline, because who wants to be smacked?

Firstly you seem to be mixing the puzzle with my point of view ( my real life answer is in my first post, my second post is a debate on the morals of the story )

Secondly you are using an outside law ( Mental capacity act) which doesn't belong to the given puzzle. ( Not to mention that laws and morals don't always go hand in hand )

Thirdly you are misinterpreting what i mean by "doesn't want to do". Going to jail is a consequence for changing the balance of the current status ( i.e you perforrm an ACT of crime and the jail is a way to rectify the imbalance created by said action).

The case of a kid that doesn't want to go to bed and other disipline stuff - apart from the fact that it has absolutelly nothing to do with morals - has to do with you wanting it to adapt to a way of living that will help it in the future.

 

 

In our case it is obvious that the druggist has full mental capacity and is breaking no laws by not wanting to sell the drug. Also the death of someone else's wife in the given puzzle does not affect him in any way - she could have been hit by a car for all he cares -  Being forced to do something he doesn't want to - i.e. sell the medicine for less - is morally wrong.

 

If it helps you understand what i mean just replace the medicine with blood.

 

i.e. Let's say Heinz's wife was in dire need of 2 bags of blood and there was only 1 person able to donate that type of blood. He want's 2k for a donation but Heinz only has 1k. Keep in mind that by donating 2 bags of blood will in no way endager that person's life and it will be replaced naturally in a few days. Does that mean that Heinz is moraly justified to sedate him and steal his blood?

 

 

 

Both of them are moraly wrong and the action is not justified.

 

Maybe from your perspective this is true, however, as I stated above, I think there is no fixed, irrefutable scale of moral right/wrong (nor can there ever be since we all have differing priorities in our lives).

 

Morality is relative to those involved - one person's 'right' is another's 'wrong'. So the original question is misleading, since we are not told from whose perspective to judge the situation by.

I fixed my phrasing . ... it should have said "moraly justified".

 

Unfortunatelly morality does not depend on the point of view. Justification of actions might be all shades of gray, but morality is black or white.

 

 

I was aware of what you meant but I was merely pointing out that there are still some things in this world we have to do against our will, even if it was through our own actions we caused it to happen.

I know it has no relevance to this particular case but I just found it interesting because I have to make decisions for people every day in my job, whether they like it or not.


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#15 renic_ixillon

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 05:36 AM

This was a difficult moral question?  Seriously? 

 

Maybe the idiot in your class thought you were a Nazi for siding with a guy named Heinz!. LOL

 

Legal does not mean moral and sometimes what is moral must by necessity be illegal.

 

I understand it is an exercise to make the class think, but that is an easy one compared to real moral questions.

 

Humanity saddens me more and more! :(


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#16 torcido

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 06:21 AM

"someone" in the back of the class called me a  "Socialist Commie Nazi"

 

 

You and Nek are taking Psyc together??


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#17 DrCrowtron

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 06:48 AM

Factoid:  Kohlberg, the guy who used this to develop his typology of morality, committed suicide.

 

Personally, I think Heinz should have stolen the hearts of millions by moving to Branson and becoming a multi-platinum recording artist.   


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#18 SoonerDead

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 07:21 AM

Both have morality issues. What I guess I would do is steal the drug, leave the $1000 and offer to work off the rest of the money for the druggist. Stage 5-ish.

 

One thing I found interesting reading the text and no one seems to of keyed on was the drug "MIGHT" save a life. There is no certainty or even a hint at an approximation made by the doctor. Is it 0.0001% chance or 90% chance the drug will work? I'd be quite a bit more pissed if someone robbed me for a 0.0001% chance to save a life than a 90%. Obviously the druggist deserves compensation and is being a jerk by charging 10x the cost to produce, however what were his costs in development? He may have put everything he owns on mortgage to pay for the development of the drug. The text just states the cost to produce, well if the drug is very specialized he may not make barely any money if the demand is very low and the only way to recoup his losses is to charge a very high price.

 

Anyway the concept of human life overtaking material needs does need a cap, obviously. Otherwise we can say it would be morally justified for the man to rob a person to get $2000 to pay the druggist. Or that any starving person is morally justified to take what they need by robbery. I don't particularily like the thought that anyone is morally justified to rob me due to a chance it may save someone's life. I don't know why I love arguing the more difficult side but I do...


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#19 IryshWhiskey

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 07:42 AM

Lol Crow!

 

When I first read it I was torn because I personally am against stealing, despite the fact that the druggist was charging too much for the cure. It's tantamount to killing the woman, or anyone with cancer, because they can't afford the cure. I understand that he needs to make a profit, but 10x the price is excessive. Especially because, if the medicine works, he'll be rich despite how little profit he makes. 

 

I digress... In this particular situation, I felt Heinz had no choice, maddened with the love for his wife, but to steal the medicine. I think he should have left the money he collected. Although that would implicate him for the crime, meaning even if he saves his wife, he'll spend some amount of time behind bars. Considering that fact, maybe it's not worth it? Who knows how much time she would gain from this drug, and her devoted husband might spend her now remaining years in a jail cell.... 

 

Also, though it is considered morally wrong to steal, the druggist can create more medicine, while the husband cannot create more life for his wife.

 

 

 

Edit: SD I did. I am at work and had to leave this open since 7am writing a bit at a time. But, for the record, I noted it before I read your thing.


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#20 forebrow

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 08:16 AM

My thought was "what if the druggist had a wife who was also terminally ill and he needed the $2000 for a cure for her?"

 

But since we have to assume all facts are included in the story and therefore the druggist is an idiot then I would rather go to jail for small theft and save someone's life than not do anything and see her die. Would I do it for a stranger? Yes, because what makes my partner better than someone else's partner?

 

I'm at Stage six.


Couldn't explain my view any better than this.


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