Imagine a situation where your spouse is critically ill, but could be helped with a dosage of Medication X. However, you are too poor to afford the medication. Do you watch your beloved spouse suffer and eventually pass from the disease or do you break the law and steal the medication so that your spouse can go on to live life with you?
Do we save our spouse at the cost of doing something else that seems immoral (i.e. stealing)? It seems our “moral gut” would tell us to steal the medication for our spouse and provide them relief and salvation from their deadly illness. It is our duty to protect our loved ones/family. Or is it? Let us see how Kant would evaluate this dilemma.
If the maxim is formulated as:
- I will steal medication for my sick spouse since I cannot afford it.
- Everyone steals medication for their sick spouse since they cannot afford it.
- Since everyone is stealing medication, frenzy will ensue and there will be no medication left to steal or there will be no more access to medication.
Here lies a contradiction, thus deeming this maxim impermissible.
This still seems wrong to let our spouse die when we didn’t try everything in our power to help them. What can we do now to save our spouse? Which moral theory would allow this action to be ethical? Not Virtue Ethics, as that would be a contradiction of virtues. It seems Consequentialism is our only option. Again this would depend as to whether or not a greater net good or bad is brought about from stealing the medication. Do we tarnish society in the long run by allowing theft to be moral under certain circumstances or do we live in pain from the loss of our loved one due to inaction?
What do you think? Is there a way to save our loved one in a moral manner?