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mke

Selling illegal drugs

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I do not sell or consume any illegal drugs. I do believe all drugs should be legal for adults. How should I view people that sell illegal drugs? They don't seem immoral to me, yet something feels wrong. Maybe I just dislike that it seems like they are taking the easy route and that they risk so much for money.

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How should I view people that sell illegal drugs? They don't seem immoral to me, yet something feels wrong.
In what way is drug selling moral? Not being an initiation of force is not the same thing as being moral.

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In what way is drug selling moral? Not being an initiation of force is not the same thing as being moral.

Drugs enable people to live longer, more enjoyable lives.

Selling them provides a value to those who value them.

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I think the thing you are running into are the types of people who currently sell recreational drugs. Because they are illegal the industry attract, primarily, seedy scum bag criminal types. If you go into a tobacco shop or liquor store, I doubt you feel the same repulsion.

If you could buy a lb of safely processed coke at walgreens for $1.99 they would likely bother you less.

As to whether or not using the recreational drugs is moral, I would say that it is largely contextual. In most cases I view mind altering substances as unhelpful in life but I can easily imagine a, say, cancer patient, for whom marijuana is extremely helpful.

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In what way is drug selling moral? Not being an initiation of force is not the same thing as being moral.

Would you say owning a liquor store is immoral? What is the difference (morally) between a liquor store and a weed store? I don't find anything immoral with a business man satisfying a demand that isn't violating anyone's rights. Just as I see nothing immoral with a business that contracts with the government for a service that the government has no business providing.

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I think the thing you are running into are the types of people who currently sell recreational drugs. Because they are illegal the industry attract, primarily, seedy scum bag criminal types. If you go into a tobacco shop or liquor store, I doubt you feel the same repulsion.

That may have something to do with it, yet I personally know at least one person that sell drugs and is not a seedy, scum bag criminal.

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The standard of moral judgment is man's life qua man - life as a complete, productive, rational being. Insofar as drugs destroy our minds or bodies, they are immoral.

Of course, a moral government is one that respects each man's right to judge for himself what his values are, provided he respects the rights of others. That means (in the context of drugs) a moral government is one that allows its citizens to be immoral.

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Would you say owning a liquor store is immoral?
No, but that's the difference between drugs and alcohol, which is a topic that's been done to death here.
I don't find anything immoral with a business man satisfying a demand that isn't violating anyone's rights.
This same argument is made about prostitution. Moral standards are not defined in terms of whether the act violates someone's rights. Now if you want to stick to the question "should it be legal", then you'd be on safe ground declaring drug selling to be legally tolerable. If your interest really is in morality, I'd suggest that you first look into the Objectivist theory of morality.

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That may have something to do with it, yet I personally know at least one person that sell drugs and is not a seedy, scum bag criminal.

What kind of drugs does he sell, and to whom? IF he sells home grown weed to people he meets, then he's an upstanding gentleman and I'd love to have him as a friend. I have money, I won't mooch.:blink:

If he sells crack he makes from ingredients supplied by Mexican cartels, to homeless addicts, then he is seedy and scum, no matter how nice he is otherwise.

The difference is very subtle, since weed can also be quite harmful to someone. But not so necessarily, there are people who can enjoy it, and still lead normal, healthy lives. Same with alcohol. So, there's nothing wrong with supplying customers who can make their own decisions.

With something like heroin on the other hand, the drug dealer is knowingly participating in the destruction of another man's life. He's not offering anything of value, he is instead knowingly and very obviously profiting from another man's weakness, and evasion, and enabling behaviour that is, with certainty, immoral. Would you say someone who writes and sells a book about how to best self-destruct, is immoral? We call Kant evil, for giving people a text that allows them to escape reality, by their own choice, why would we excuse giving someone heroin, to do the same?

What about the Westboro Baptist Church: they just "sell" their own nonsense, in exchang for free press, and yet no one would say their actions are perfectly moral, just because no one's rights are violated. They still are seedy and scum, for what they are creating, not for how they are doing it. (through perfectly legal speech)

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This same argument is made about prostitution. Moral standards are not defined in terms of whether the act violates someone's rights. Now if you want to stick to the question "should it be legal", then you'd be on safe ground declaring drug selling to be legally tolerable. If your interest really is in morality, I'd suggest that you first look into the Objectivist theory of morality.

I don't understand how someone offering a product for sale has anything to do with another person's decisions. Selling the product can certainly be the moral choice for the seller - it allows them to lead a productive life and provide for the furtherance of their lives. Whether taking the drug performs the same function for the buyer is a moot point in determining the morality of the seller. If we were to apply the same standards to other products, tobacco sellers, alcohol sellers, weapon sellers, rope sellers... anyone who sells anything which could be used to detract from living life qua Man would be immoral.

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I don't understand how someone offering a product for sale has anything to do with another person's decisions.
I see that you do not understand. Let's start with the most basic relevant question, namely one's career. I presume that you understand the career-centered principle of Objectivism, that the job is an expression of your life. See for example Rearden's life as a metallurgist, or Roark's life as an architect. Presumably you can see how those choices relate to their particular values. It's true that Roark worked as a laborer in a basically unrelated area, as a temporary and necessary action in order to pursue his highest values.

So in what way is it a long-term advancement of your values to help people destroy their lives?

If we were to apply the same standards to other products, tobacco sellers, alcohol sellers, weapon sellers, rope sellers... anyone who sells anything which could be used to detract from living life qua Man would be immoral.
You've misidentified the standard. The difference between the pimp, drug dealer, porn-peddler or seller of burglar tools versus the wine merchant or rope seller relates to reality. The standard is not "could be misused", rather it's "is by nature misuse".

Remember that "survival" does not simply mean "eking out a physical existence", it implies flourishing, a complex long-range and integrated concept. If a man is so mentally limited that he literally cannot survive except by living off of the misery of others (and I know some people like that, so this is not totally hypothetical), then given the choice of being a drug dealer or a whore, versus actually dying, the moral choice is to deal drugs. But it is also immoral to evade the point that you have chosen to limit your life to two basically immoral options -- you have accepted a false dichotomy. You should be determining what is wrong with you that you cannot pursue objectively good values.

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You've misidentified the standard. The difference between the pimp, drug dealer, porn-peddler or seller of burglar tools versus the wine merchant or rope seller relates to reality. The standard is not "could be misused", rather it's "is by nature misuse".

Drugs, porn, or tools that can be used for burglary are not by their nature only capable of being misused. Drugs could certainly be used for scientific or military purposes, and porn as an educational tool (ok, that's pushing it). So really it depends on the context - who you're selling them to, what you know about them, how much you're selling to them, what they use it for.

If that's true, then it could also be said that the person who sells the equipment necessary to make the drugs, given the context of a given sale, may also be acting immorally. For example, if they are selling to a known drug dealer, or an otherwise shady character suspected to be a drug dealer, they could be considered to be acting immorally, right?

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Drugs, porn, or tools that can be used for burglary are not by their nature only capable of being misused. Drugs could certainly be used for scientific or military purposes, and porn as an educational tool (ok, that's pushing it).
Yeah, it is pushing it. Of course I'm assuming the context implied by the OP, which doesn't refer to medical marijuana, the manufacture and sale of various drugs for scientific purposes, etc. These are even recognized as distinct under the law. The context under discussion is garden variety sale of dope to addicts and future-addicts.
If that's true, then it could also be said that the person who sells the equipment necessary to make the drugs, given the context of a given sale, may also be acting immorally. For example, if they are selling to a known drug dealer, or an otherwise shady character suspected to be a drug dealer, they could be considered to be acting immorally, right?
I think it's a mistake to put too fine a point on the business of being an enabler. Moral condemnation of a man who happens to sell 100 kg of baby laxative to a heroin dealer would be mistaken, since that presupposes (incorrectly) that a baby laxative seller has an obligation to investigate the character of his customers. Baby laxative has perfectly legitimate uses, as does a bottle of whisky or a bottle of T-bird. It would be a supreme act of evasion and rationalization to believe that those guys that you're selling bags of heroin to are all medical researchers, or to take the stance that since it's imaginable that all of your customers are pursuing rational goals then your drug-peddling career is virtuous.

As an example of extreme context-dropping, the statement "Drugs enable people to live longer, more enjoyable lives" is patently false when applied to "drugs" in the relevant sense. It's true that pharmaceuticals enable people to live longer, more enjoyable lives. I don't understand mke's question to be about some form of word-based theory of morality where there's something evil about things that have the name "drugs". I understand the question to be about heroin, pcp, meth etc. Given that, it's a perfectly sensible moral question to ask. If he/she (hmmm.... mke means "wife" in Swahili, is that influencing my pronoun choice?) was actually considering pharmaceutical suppliers as well, then I doubt he would have felt that such actions are in some way wrong.

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So in what way is it a long-term advancement of your values to help people destroy their lives?

You're assuming the only value in selling drugs is helping people destroy their lives. I've known at least one drug dealer who took a great deal of pride in the science of growing and refining his marijuana. Could we likewise claim employees of Burger King are immoral simply because their product helps (far, far more) people destroy their lives?

You've misidentified the standard. The difference between the pimp, drug dealer, porn-peddler or seller of burglar tools versus the wine merchant or rope seller relates to reality. The standard is not "could be misused", rather it's "is by nature misuse".

There is nothing inherent to illegal drugs which indicates misuse any more than legal drugs. Drugs serve one purpose: alter the body's chemistry. Doesn't matter if it's aspirin or cocaine. To argue the former's standard is "could be misused," but the latter's standard is "if used is misused" is arbitrary. Use of either is predicated upon the same desired outcome: alter the body's chemistry. Cocaine is used as a topical anesthetic for eye and ear surgery. It's also given to cancer patients. Clearly applications such as these enable people to live longer, happier, and more productive lives. I doubt users of the drug in this context would argue their use is misuse.

What is the legitimate use of "a bottle of whisky or a bottle of T-bird," or tobacco? Isn't the purpose the same as any drug? And if so, would their use constitute misuse? Given that both are far more addictive than cocaine, would sellers of these drugs be destroying the long-term advancement of their values by helping people destroy their lives?

Remember that "survival" does not simply mean "eking out a physical existence", it implies flourishing, a complex long-range and integrated concept. If a man is so mentally limited that he literally cannot survive except by living off of the misery of others (and I know some people like that, so this is not totally hypothetical), then given the choice of being a drug dealer or a whore, versus actually dying, the moral choice is to deal drugs. But it is also immoral to evade the point that you have chosen to limit your life to two basically immoral options -- you have accepted a false dichotomy. You should be determining what is wrong with you that you cannot pursue objectively good values.

I guess we should devote another thread to why prostitution is immoral.

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Drug dealers cater to men's vices. It is a decidedly unimpressive way to make money because anyone who is willing to sqander his life can do it. I don't admire liquor store owners either.

Edited by cliveandrews

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There is nothing inherent to illegal drugs which indicates misuse any more than legal drugs. Drugs serve one purpose: alter the body's chemistry. Doesn't matter if it's aspirin or cocaine. To argue the former's standard is "could be misused," but the latter's standard is "if used is misused" is arbitrary. Use of either is predicated upon the same desired outcome: alter the body's chemistry. Cocaine is used as a topical anesthetic for eye and ear surgery. It's also given to cancer patients. Clearly applications such as these enable people to live longer, happier, and more productive lives. I doubt users of the drug in this context would argue their use is misuse.

Alter the body's chemistry - in what way? The applications you describe may be legitimate, but the rest of us were under the impression that you were talking about a non-medical context. There is a HUGE difference between selling cocaine to random people on the streets and applying a trace amount as an anesthetic. One destroys life, the other supports it. That difference defines the line between the moral and the immoral.

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Doesn't matter if it's aspirin or cocaine. To argue the former's standard is "could be misused," but the latter's standard is "if used is misused" is arbitrary.

You changed the argument just slightly. The argument was that dealing cocaine indiscriminately is immoral, because turning a blind eye to the obviously likely outcome of it being used by an addict would be an act of evasion.

While cocaine may be in some rare instances helpful, a drug dealer should operate under the assumption that his clients are addicts, not eye surgeons. He should do that until a hospital administrator invites him into his office, and they sign a contract for a steady supply of cocaine, to be delivered to the hospital through regular channels. Until then, a crack dealer who claims to not know if his customers are going to perform eye surgery or shoot up, is evading a very obvious reality. That evasion makes him even more immoral, not less, than if he was actually admitting what he's doing.

Edited by Jake_Ellison

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Drug dealers cater to men's vices. It is a decidedly unimpressive way to make money because anyone who is willing to sqander his life can do it. I don't admire liquor store owners either.

I'm sure, then, that all those devilish men who manufacture high-quality wines and spirits are miserable scumbags as well?

I bet you hate the CEO of Gamestop for having his stores sell all those addictive massively multiplayer online games, too.

Hopefully you see my point. For every item that can be abused, is a pretty legitimate reason for its existence, and an even more legitimate passion and trade for its sale and manufacture. Somebody who enjoys fine wines, high-end cigars, or expertly-grown marijuana, and enjoys these pastimes within reasonable bounds, is not "squandering" their life. The person who caters to these individuals - the manufacturers, distributors, and store owners - have spent their lives perfecting a specialized and difficult craft. What the hell is wrong with that?

There is nothing inherently a "vice" about choosing to consume substances that alter the mind or body. We all do it when we eat our turkey dinners on Thanksgiving. There are plenty of people who use weed, alcohol, psychedelics, hell - even cocaine - without it negatively impacting their lives or their minds. Making such generalizations is dishonest and a rather childish look at the situation.

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There is nothing inherently a "vice" about choosing to consume substances that alter the mind or body.
The vice lies in choosing to consume a substance for the purpose of destroying your consciousness. An argument that analogizes drug addiction to eating turkey on Thanksgiving is what is truly childish.

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Hopefully you see my point. For every item that can be abused, is a pretty legitimate reason for its existence, and an even more legitimate passion and trade for its sale and manufacture.

I'm pretty sure this is not true about attempts to use Crystal Meth recreationally.

...without it negatively impacting their lives or their minds.

Just ask them, I'm sure they'll tell you that, right? :)

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Just ask them, I'm sure they'll tell you that, right? :D

I'm sure that the individuals who suffer from severe obesity, ADHD, or narcolepsy, and are prescribed Desoxyn, would tell me this.

The vice lies in choosing to consume a substance for the purpose of destroying your consciousness. An argument that analogizes drug addiction to eating turkey on Thanksgiving is what is truly childish.

I didn't compare, or mention, drug addiction. To say otherwise is a lie.

The morality of drug use lies in the individual, and whether or not they have the power of personality to avoid addiction. This same morality of choice lies in every person who chooses to enjoy fast food, alcohol, video games, or pornography. I have no problem with somebody, like Jake, who chooses to consume marijuana if he can live a well-conditioned, healthy life while doing so.

Honestly, I'll admit to have taken a few drugs in my life, but can't relate my experiences with your descriptions. Which ones exactly are the ones that destroy consciousness at normal doses?

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I didn't compare, or mention, drug addiction.
We are all aware of your evasion and context-dropping of the type exemplified by the statement "Drugs enable people to live longer, more enjoyable lives". You may endorse or repudiate that position as you wish: the point remains that the question is not about pharmaceuticals, it is about addiction and destruction of consciousness, and whether enabling such vices can be called "virtuous conduct".

People should learn to use the search facility, because we have had plenty of threads where hedonists rationalize self destructive behavior via the short-term thinking "It didn't kill me this time so it must be okay, and I really like the buzz". You can also find plenty of puritan posts where straight-edge guys declare that any consumption of any substance that could imaginably cause harm to you is defiling the temple. Brush up on the previous literature. Also, try to figure out what could possibly be meant by "moral conduct".

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We are all aware of your evasion and context-dropping of the type exemplified by the statement "Drugs enable people to live longer, more enjoyable lives". You may endorse or repudiate that position as you wish: the point remains that the question is not about pharmaceuticals, it is about addiction and destruction of consciousness, and whether enabling such vices can be called "virtuous conduct".

People should learn to use the search facility, because we have had plenty of threads where hedonists rationalize self destructive behavior via the short-term thinking "It didn't kill me this time so it must be okay, and I really like the buzz". You can also find plenty of puritan posts where straight-edge guys declare that any consumption of any substance that could imaginably cause harm to you is defiling the temple. Brush up on the previous literature. Also, try to figure out what could possibly be meant by "moral conduct".

I responded to everything you gave me. If you want to hear me clarify something, just ask. I would not endorse the statement you've provided. Such a statement is an enormous generalization, and incorrect.

I don't know what you're talking about regarding pharmaceuticals, and I don't really care what you think the question ought to be about. There is no reason why you must connect addiction to this discussion, nor is there a reason why there would be a need to distinguish between medical drugs, recreational drugs, or really anything that can be abused by a hedonist. Whatever the case may be, I don't endorse hedonism, and I'm pretty sure I made that clear.

You still haven't told me what drugs destroy consciousness, nor have you demonstrated to me why we must limit this discussion to addiction. You're package dealing when you refuse to separate addiction from drugs, and hedonism from legitimate enjoyment - and are engaging in intellectual dishonesty when you equate "destruction of consciousness" with "drugs" - a term you still refuse to identify precisely, yet all the while choose to separate from pharmaceutical substances.

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You still haven't told me what drugs destroy consciousness, nor have you demonstrated to me why we must limit this discussion to addiction.
As for the first point, that's correct and also irrelevant to the question of whether being a dope dealer is a moral plan for life. If you have a concrete proposal to the effect that meth is a life-enhancing substance then you can make that argument. The nature of drugs and chemistry is such that you can't give an exhaustive list because it's always possible to invent something new. When you discover this wonderful new life-enhancing narcotic, you can tell us about it and we can judge based on the facts.

Nor must the discussion be limited to addiction. Drug use has a number of things going against it. Apart from addictive properties, there are also immediate and long-term body damage properties, and the fact that dopers who postulate that cocaine helps them focus or heroin helps them to relax are evading their own psychological problems.

I suggest that you read up on the Objectivist understanding of emotions. Happiness is an effect, not a cause, so taking drugs to "make you happy" is possible only if you evade knowledge of the proper nature of happiness.

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