Barbiturate and amphetamine addiction continues to give cause for national concern. Each year hundreds of thousands of pills manage to slip into the black market and are sold illegally, often to young people. Some observers, including the head of a congressional crime committee that spent two years probing the problem of illegal drug trafficking,’ believe that the drug manufacturers cannot be blamed if their products are put to illegitimate use. Do drug manufacturers have any moral responsibility to ensure that their products are not put to such use?
In this paper I am going to discuss the six different ethical theories, including utilitarianism, kantian ethics, natural law theory, virtue theory, care ethics, and symphonology.
The first theory that will be discussed is utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is the moral doctrine that we should always act to produce the greatest possible balance of good over bad for everyone affected by our actions. The basic principle of utilitarianism is The Principle of Utility or The Greatest Happiness Principle, Itht states that we ought to do that which produces the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people.
In regard to the illegitimate use of prescription drugs, drug manufactures do have a moral responsibility to ensure that their products are not put to such use. Utilitarianism provides an objective way to resolve conflicts of self-interest and encourages a realistic and result oriented approach to moral decision making. Using the utilitarian theory, the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people, is a challenge.
If you were simply listening to the general public which is filled with hundreds of thousands of users they would say that the drug manufacnturers have no right getting involved because they know that if drug manufacturer’s did get involved that would make it more difficult for the users to obtain these drugs. If you take a poll of drug users family members, close friends, and anyone who may have had a prescription drug problem they would say that the drug manufactures need to get involved to make it more difficult for the users, especially minors, to get their hands on these drugs.
The greatest amount of good would come about only if the people who truly needed these drugs for the purpose in which they were designed used them and the drugs were not being sold on the black market. Drug manufacturer’s should get involved at some level to regulate this situation but they should be held responsible for what happens when they land on the shelves of the stores. At that point, it is the stores responsibility. The manufacturers and store owners both have a moral responsibility. Second is Kantian ethics. Kant believed that moral rules can, in principle, be known as a result of reason alone and are not based on observation.
Kant held that only when we act from duty does our action have moral worth. Good will is the only thing that is good in itself. His categorical imperative states that an action is morally right if and only if we can will that the maxim (or principle) represented by our action be a universal law. There are three alternative formulations of the categorical imperative, the first two are the primary formulations. The first is that an act is right only if the actor would be willing to be so treated if the positions of the parties were reversed.
The second is that one must always act so as to treat other people as ends, never merely as means. The third is the importance of motivation and of acting on principle, it is not enough to just do the right thing; an action has moral worth only if its done from a sense of duty that is, from a desire to do the right thing for its own sake. Kant’s ethics gives us firm standards that do not depend on results, it injects a humanistic element into moral decision making and stresses the importance of acting on principle and from a sense of duty.
With regard to the fact that a congressional crime committee thinks that drug manufacturer’s cannot be blamed if their products are put to illegitimate use would be ridiculous. According to Kant, moral rules can be known as a result of reason alone and are not based on observation. The facts show that there is an ever growing problem with black market drugs and the drug manufactures need to do something to help stop this growing epidemic. Even though the drug manufacturer’s may not agree with what is happening with their drugs, all they see are dollars signs and the more people who abuse their drug equals more money for them.
Kant would want them to act on the principle that their drug is harmful to people taking advantage of the high they can get from it. The drug manufacturer’s need to be held somewhat responsible for what is going on right in front of their eyes. Third is natural law theory. The essence of natural law theory is that we should further the inherent ends of human nature and not frustrate human fulfillment. There are 3 tenets in natural law theory. These tenets provide the meaning and the basis of the theory. ) moral law is accessible to human reason; 2) moral law is based on human nature; 3) moral law is universally applicable. In other words, natural moral law is knowable by human reason, applies to all human beings, and is grounded in human nature. Natural law theory is very appealing since it has objective moral values and it equates good with human flourishing. According to the natural law theory you should never interfere with human flourishing. Drug manufactures recognize that when used improperly their drugs can be very harmful, so they put warning labels on the bottles.
Why then do they know that their drugs are being used illegitimately and do nothing about it? According to natural law theory you should not frustrate human fulfillment but in this situation you need to get in between the people who are addicts and not allow them to add to their addictive ways. If nothing is done by the drug manufactures there will be no human flourishing which is the main principle of the natural law theory. If people keep abusing these prescription drugs and the drug manufacturers don’t do anything these people will eventually die of an overdose or other drug related causes.
Natural law theory has objective moral values and with this situation, the moral values should definitely come into play with the drug manufacturer’s and they need to take moral responsibility for what is happening. Fourth is virtue theory. Virtue theory describes the character of a moral agent as a driving force for ethical behavior, rather than rules, consequentialism, or social context, which derives rightness or wrongness from the outcome of the act itself rather than character. The virtue theory derives the golden mean which is the desirable middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other of deficiency.
Virtue ethics is all about the human character. The drug manufacturing companies need to realize that what is happening is unethical and is reflecting upon them. People are looking at them to make the corrections and to step in and change something so that this issue doesn’t progress into something bigger than it already is. Virtue ethics is about the human character, even though these companies aren’t human per say, they affect the lives of many humans and a lot of people are being harmed by what is going on behind the walls of drug manufacturers.
The drug manufacturing companies should be held morally responsible for the illegitimate use of these drugs. I don’t believe that there is directly anything they can do to stop the illegitimate use of the drugs but they can step in and do something to make the drugs less readily available to purchase and consume how they were originally intended to be consumed. Fifth is care ethics, which provides a balance for the one-sided traditional ethics of the impersonal and the universal, for it promotes the connectedness of humans.
With care ethics the primary moral obligation is to prevent harm and help people. It is concerned with relatedness. The ethics of care is a normative ethical theory often considered a type of virtue ethics. Virtue ethics emphasizes the importance of human relationships and emotion based virtues. With care ethics drug manufacturer’s definitely have a moral responsibility to ensue that their products are not put to illegitimate use. Care ethics is all about preventing harm and helping people, which is exactly what the drug manufacturer’s need to do.
They need to step in and put their foot down. These actions cannot continue to happen, it is causing so much harm and it not helping anyone. These drugs were intended to be used in one way and the fact that they are being used in a completely different way is morally wrong in itself, but the fact that the manufacturer’s know that this is happening and nothing is being done is another issue. If they were to step in hopefully that would slow down and eventually stop this growing epidemic. They need to focus on the prevention of harm to people who abuse their product.
Sixth is symphonology, which is based on the supposition that an agreement exists between all rational beings. These agreements are contingent upon the bioethical standards of fidelity, beneficence, objectivity, self-assertiveness, freedom and autonomy. Symphonology is based off of the bioethical standards which are, fidelity is adherence to the terms of the agreement. It means faithfulness or commitment or promise to uphold the agreement. Objectivity is a person’s capacity to be aware of things as they are and to be able to act on this awareness.
Beneficence means to do good at least do no harm. Freedom means to act independently. It is a person’s capacity to take independent action based on his own evaluation of the situation. Self-Assertion or privacy is a person’s power to control his own time and effort, it is self-ownership. Autonomy is the essential character structure of an individual person. The drug manufacturing companies need to abide by the bioethical standards in order to take moral responsibility for the drug epidemic that is occurring in our nation today. Will they do that? Probably not.
Symphonology states that an agreement exists between all rational beings, if the drug manufacturing companies don’t take moral responsibility for the drug problem going on there will never be an agreement between the people who know what is going on and want to do something about it and the addicts themselves. The theories that I believe best answer the dilemma are Kantian ethics and also care ethics. Kant’s ethics gives us firm standards that do not depend on results; it injects a humanistic element into moral decision making and stresses the importance of acting on principle and from a sense of duty.
With regards the drug manufacturer’s being held morally responsible for the every growing illegitimate usage of the drugs using Kant’s ethics they would need to think more humanistic and make the morally right decision which would be to step in and take action with the drug problem. Even though they can’t completely stop the illegal usage of their drugs the manufacturer’s can set regulations so that only certain people can get their hands on the drugs. The second theory that best answers the dilemma is care ethics. Care ethics is all about preventing harm and helping people. That is exactly what the manufacturing companies need to be doing.
There are so many different approaches that they could take to slow down and stop this problem. They could use different ingredients so that they don’t have the harmful affects on people or the addictive qualities. The congressional crime committee that said that the drug manufacturer’s cannot be blamed if their products are put to illegitimate use, is absurd. They should absolutely be held responsible. If these companies used care ethics they would be running a morally sound and ever growing drug manufacturing company, instead of being scrutinized because their drugs are being sold illegally on the black market and are very addictive.
Even though these companies aren’t actual humans and they don’t have feelings or morals like a human will, they are run by people and it is up to those people to make the right decisions. With care ethics these people can guide their company in the right direction and abide by the care ethics standard which is to prevent harm and help people. I believe with care ethics and with Kantian ethics the companies should be held morally responsible and they will over achieve every obstacle put in their way and run a morally successful company.