Utilitarianism and Drugs

Topics: Drug addiction, Utilitarianism, Drug Pages: 5 (2163 words) Published: December 10, 2013
A key issue that is seen in media today is the legalization of certain drugs. There is a way to approach the issue, from a moral standpoint, on the use of drugs and whether or not it should be legalized. To solve this moral dilemma, a person can simply use and apply the concepts of utilitarianism. When deciding on whether or not something is considered to be a moral problem, it’s extremely important to differentiate the assumptions that people have made to support their claims. The situation that is being examined is utilitarianism and how it would view the problem of drugs. First when looking at this issue, a person must use what utilitarianism’s use to identify the problems with drug use, and then there must be a solution to resolve the moral issue. The approach to solving this moral issue from a basis of utilitarianism is very simple. The good is that which maximizes utility for the most amount of people on average; this concept is the average utility. The opposite would be that which hinders or leads to what is known as the less average utility and then it is seen as being morally bad; even if it is unintentionally viewed in that light. With all of this being said, a person must then define the word utility to better understand these concepts. The use of the simpler form of the definition of the word utility is most appropriate for this case. According to Jeremy Bentham, it can simply be defined as, “happiness as a necessary component for well being, and it follows that the rules dictating those behaviors or policies that increase the maximum utility will be on par with the increase of happiness as it relates to well-being on a morally relevant basis.” Since defining what utility truly is, it is necessary to look further into the problem at hand, which is the moral issue of drug use. Going further it is very important to distinguish and clarify utility from hedonism. Hedonists would say overall that the pleasure a person obtains from taking something that us considered a toxic chemical that stimulates the brain into a state of euphoria, might argue that the affects are more pleasurable than negative with the side affects that might occur from usage. If this is correct, the drug would not be considered a moral issue at all, and that if people are willing to try and experience these euphoric drugs, that they would be overall more pleasurable which would be considered morally good. Whether or not this is defined as morally good, solely rests on two assumptions of the problem that would no longer be considered a wrong. The assumptions are that we as a group of people, must distinguish the overall average utility as the main element of the moral evaluation, and people have defined it not only as something that increases our level of pleasure and reduces our levels of pain, but something that also deals with mental states at a simple and subjective level. Since defining what the assumptions are and the overall elements of the moral evaluation of how people are defining drug use, to truly understand the “problem,” there must be a dissection of the problem from the perspective of an individual and the perspective of society as a whole. With this dissection of the problem, the solution will follow. With the individual in mind, identifying the physical effects is easy to do, but identifying the psychological and mental effects are very difficult, so it makes it harder to define whether or not drug use is a moral problem; at least from the perspective of traditional utilitarianism. A person must identify the consequences, in relation to maximizing utility, and whether or not the substances are bad for an individual and society as a whole, and they also must decide whether or not the consequences are good. When identifying a problem such as this, a person must look at the problems faced by the one who is using the drugs and the use of drugs on society. The drug users perspective on the use of illegal substances is that...
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