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I have a brother in law who loves doing drugs. He currently is 31 years old (jobless), married (she makes the money in the house), has a 2 year old, and they both live with his parents because they cannot afford to get a house. His family wants him to stop doing drugs because they think,for religious purposes, that that is immoral. He argues that there is nothing immoral about doing drugs. They go in circles about this and get nowhere. He says that drugs allow him to enjoy life and make thinking about life easier.

I have an argument that I would like to be analyzed for its cogency that I think addresses the real issue at hand.

1. He must be honest (accept reality as a fact)

2. He must be productive (we need to create to survive)

3. By simply "enjoying life" at the exclusion of being productive one is not being honest about reality. Reality dictates that we must be productive first in order to enjoy life" To reverse the order is to evade reality by suggesting that they efect (enjoying life) is possible before the cause (being productive).

4. By living off of the income of parents, in their house, and using the money that his wife gives him on drugs to enjoy life he is not being honest (evading reality) and not being productive ("translating thought into physical form" Tara Smith)

Thanks

Edited by Veritas
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Looks like a sound argument to me. I would go further to say that it sounds like your sister is in a negative relationship. Her and her husband are not equals if he is exploiting her and taking advantage of her productivity. A foundation for a sound relationship is sharing the same values, which does not seem to be the case here.

Moreover, the basis of objectivist ethics is that one must act in order to survive. By not working and doing drugs, one is avoiding this essential premise. Moreover, doing drugs as a means of enjoying life, even if being productive, is not necessarily ethical. Productivity in itself should bring happiness. In addition to productivity, happiness should be gained through the relationship with your sister. According to Nathaniel Brandon in The Virtue of Selfishness there are 5 sources of enjoyment in life: productive work, human relationships, recreation, art, and sex.

Now with regards to doing drugs, obviously the argument can be made that this is a form of recreation. This argument is not incorrect, but the problem arises when recreation becomes an escape from reality. When one is disconnected and unable to consciously make sense of their surroundings, drug use is not enjoyment, but an attempt to seek enjoyment in escape. Does your brother in-law smile while on drugs, or sit in a stupor? You said he claims it makes him think clearly. I guess the question is what drug is he on? If he is addicted to ratlin, this could hold true, but I doubt you are talking about ratlin. In any case, recreation clearly comes after productivity. Enjoying recreation without productiveness is problematic and in my opinion not possible.

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While your points are true, I think telling a 30 something year old druggie things this way is unlikely to get through to him. He'll probably give it no more concern than the religious morality argument because he doesn't see any harm in what he's doing and just thinks people are trying to shame him into doing something which would do nothing but hurt his life. He doesn't likely realize how honesty is an issue here as he has not told anybody, himself included, things he does not actually believe. He likely also would take the attitude that you must be wrong about productivity being required because he seems to be getting away with parasitism.

Something that perhaps may get through to him better is arguing specific examples of how he is losing out on value. He takes drugs to enjoy life he says? Why does he need drugs to enjoy his life right now? Does it have anything to do with being in his 30's and married with a kid and still living at home with his parents out of poverty? If so, if he quit the drugs he would have more money for other things and have a much better shot at getting and keeping a job so they could finally afford some autonomy and space. Why try to fake like things are good when you could *actually make it so*? Does he care about his wife and kid? If so, living on their own would help both of them to whereas only he is able to be living in the drug induced lala land. Furthermore, he's also putting himself at a legal risk right now. I he were to get caught hen what would happen? Does he expect his wife and/or parents to try to put up all his legal fees and if he goes to jail leave his wife to take care of the kid by herself for who knows how long? What kind of impression is setting up for his kid by possibly being drugged up around the kid? By possibly having the kid see the cops come and take him to jail and have to not see his dad suddenly for a long time? How about having his kid grow up with the example of living dependent on his family well into adulthood? Would he want to find himself 30 years from now with his kid still living with them? Or does he expect to still have them all living in that house, his parents, him and his wife, his kid and possibly his kids wife and children? That's either really crowded or else counting on his parents to die to get a house of their own finally via will. If his marriage is strained by their financial issues, he could end up losing both his wife and kid in a divorce, as money disputes are indeed common among reasons for divorce. What does he expect to do for support if she leaves him? Count on his parents to support him again because he has put himself in a chemically induced state of second childhood, unable to support himself and in need of some real adults to take care of everything for him? Does he care about his parents? Doesn't he think that they might like some privacy and that space in the house back after 30 years now taking care of him? Perhaps they like being grand parents, as many do, but part of the benefits of grand parenting is often said to be that the kids aren't there ALL the time. They're getting older and probably have a hard time keeping up with the responsibilities and such of having a kid around all the time. What about health risks too? That could both cripple him in the short or long term (which already would be no fun, perhaps killing him even depending on what he's doing) and may leave his family stressed and sad at how he has been hurt and possibly leave them with huge expenses for medical and/or funeral bills.

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I think the best approach is to ask yourself this:

Firstly, in what sense and to what extent can a 30 year old who is unable to fend for himself and is living with his parents can be happy?

Secondly, is the advice you're giving him going to make him significantly happier? and, if so, it is worth the effort he would have to expend to get from A to B.

You have an uphill task.!

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I have a brother in law who loves doing drugs. He currently is 31 years old (jobless), married (she makes the money in the house), has a 2 year old, and they both live with his parents because they cannot afford to get a house. His family wants him to stop doing drugs because they think,for religious purposes, that that is immoral. He argues that there is nothing immoral about doing drugs. They go in circles about this and get nowhere. He says that drugs allow him to enjoy life and make thinking about life easier.

I have an argument that I would like to be analyzed for its cogency that I think addresses the real issue at hand.

1. He must be honest (accept reality as a fact)

2. He must be productive (we need to create to survive)

3. By simply "enjoying life" at the exclusion of being productive one is not being honest about reality. Reality dictates that we must be productive first in order to enjoy life" To reverse the order is to evade reality by suggesting that they efect (enjoying life) is possible before the cause (being productive).

4. By living off of the income of parents, in their house, and using the money that his wife gives him on drugs to enjoy life he is not being honest (evading reality) and not being productive ("translating thought into physical form" Tara Smith)

Thanks

Your arguments are good, but if he hasn't tried to get away from this life yet, he won't. He will have to get kicked out of his house and divorced before he changes, then you can explain to him what went wrong, to help him make sense of the pain. I am sorry, but arguments only change the minds of people who want to be convinced or who are dedicated to being right.

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I think its important to emphasize the importance of long term happiness in your argument. Many people view rational self-interest as seizing the maximum amount of benefit in the immediate present as opposed to finding important goals and working towards them in the long term. Happiness changes over weeks, not over the course of hours.

At the same time, you need to be open and honest about your motive for presenting the argument, otherwise he might sense that you're evading an issue purposefully or subconsciously.

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