The relationship between morality and drugs draws a huge influence from the liberal approach that is used in the political and at times the moral codes that exists in a community to govern drug use (McGinn 68). This liberal approach brings with it deficient factors like individualism which only serve to poison the freedom which it intended to deliver in the first place. However, this is not always the case in all instances. Therefore, it is in order to attempt and examine whether the liberal commitments that are existent in the present society have any negative or positive influence on how societies deal with issues concerning drugs. In addition, it is also appropriate to examine the drug scenario with an attempt to interrogate whether the involved parties are using the right methodologies to deal with the drug problem or if they need to revise their problem solving tactics for better results.
In this first section, our main interest is drug addiction and rationality how they relate to various political and moral values. While addressing addiction under the scope of the present moral and political values the question of rationality and irrationality comes to mind. One argument might suggest that addictive behavior towards drugs is irrational. To support this argument, an individual might suggest that irrationality in drug addiction occurs because the addiction is based on desires as opposed to beliefs, which take into account mental activity or thought (White 298). However, this form of analysis falls short because it views the concept of desire as a subjective phenomenon. If compared to liberal democracies, which use principles such as justice, it is preferable to draw a line that prohibits drugs classified as harmful or illegal.
Another way of analyzing the same argument is by examining its approach towards the concept of rationality and drugs. Addictive behavior can be classified as rational if it is founded on rational beliefs that evoke awareness in the addict concerning the consequences of indulging in drug abuse. For this argument to be satisfied, the addict should have prior knowledge of both the objective consequences and the positive impacts of indulging in drug abuse (White 299). A rational drug abuser should be able to retain his ability to maintain his rational beliefs about the consequences of his own actions before and during the act of abusing drugs. However, this is not usually the case. For instance, an alcoholic is not likely to maintain the beliefs he/she had before he became an alcoholic. Therefore, it is only right to admit that liberal democracies triumph in dealing with drug related issues as compared to rational and irrational analysis of the same problem.
Furthermore, the ideals that exist in our modern day liberal societies also affect the way drugs related issues are viewed by society. One such ideal is Liberty. Liberty is known to provide for rights that protect the freedom of citizens but in some case the porous nature of the rights allow for the penetration of negative freedom into society (Husak 147). An example of such a right is the derived right to the absence of coercive legislation. If viewed under a different light, this right threatens the moral foundations of any civil society. This is because it does not put into consideration the quality of moral actions protected under it and this is where problems with drug use arise. This right seemingly provides for the recreational use of drugs as opposed to drug use that leads to drug addiction. This presumption of liberty tempers with the ability of criminal law to deal with cases of drug abuse (McGinn 77).
Another ideal that that exist in our modern day liberal societies and affects the way drugs related issues are viewed by society is liberalism. Liberalism is defined as a political ideology that is inclined towards protecting the freedom of a citizen through reforms and legislation. However, the reasons given for the need for legislation while working with liberalism often raise concern while debating the drug issue and drug regulation policies. For instance, the predominant reason behind regulation of drug use is usually the harm it causes to others as opposed to the harm it causes to the individual abusing the drug (Husak 148). The form of individual freedom presented by this reason serves to weaken the legal status of self-destructive drugs in a liberal society. That is, drug abuse can be disguised as recreational drug use and pass the legal test. Therefore, if there is to be a proper system for regulation of drug use and abuse, the line that separates prohibited from legally acceptable drugs should be properly drawn if the liberal societies aim at eliminating the negative impacts presented by drug abuse.
Moreover, democracy also has a huge influence on the political and at times the moral codes that exists in a community to govern drug use. In a liberal and democratic society, legitimacy is often used to classify actions by individuals with reference to the judgement and justification of other individuals (McGinn 70). This is because democracy applies basic principles that are founded on rational principles that are not easy to reject. However, democracy sometimes fails to capture the drug problem in its attempt to restore social order in a society. This failure occurs when democracy attempts to provide for the protection of rights that promote the use of the potential held by an individual’s rationality and moral agency. By doing this, democracy also includes the citizen’s desires, which might involve the desire to abuse drugs. Therefore, the existence of prohibition actually has a positive side because it serves to some degree to eliminate the infringement of democratic rights.
However, anti-drug legislations like prohibition do sometimes have a conflicting relationship with liberalism. The injustice presented by prohibitionist regime is not only limited to democracy. This regime is unjust in two more ways. Firstly, it treats drug users and drug addicts as mere instruments with only the well-being of other citizens as the only goal. This is an unfair approach as opposed to more considerate methods like rehabilitation. Moreover, the prohibitionist regime does not fairly accomplish the task of distributing the cost of enforcement. This is because the enforcement of the anti-drug legislation will only be focused on the least advantaged members of the society as opposed to the whole society (White 299). Therefore, this approach fails to deliver justice based on the principles of democracy. It only serves to develop drug policies that are designed with very small regard to its consequences.
In the light of these drugs related concepts that are drawn the liberal approach that is used in the political and at times the moral codes that exists in a community to govern drug use, one can make several conclusions regarding what should be done. For instance, it is not sensible to insist on anti-drug legislations that are based on unsubtle approaches like prohibition or consistencies in designing laws that govern drug use (Husak 149). This is because different drugs pose different levels of danger and therefore legislation should be used discretely. In addition, the assumption made in the derived right of liberty should be carefully interpreted if drug use is to be well governed. This is because there is no guarantee that the effects caused by drugs on people other than the drug user are harmless (McGinn 78). The fact that drugs can have a huge impact on the development of an unborn fetus serves to support this argument.
Furthermore, one might argue that the level of drug use has been propelled by the increase of anti-drug legislations. The substantial profits associated with the illegal trade of drugs and the political misrepresentation of the lower class citizens has largely contributed to the increased drug use by the unfortunate few that live in poor neighborhoods (McGinn 78). These large profits associated with drug dealing industry attract the many unemployed people and the low-income earners in the society because they see the trade as the only way they can make a living. Furthermore, the majority of people from the low class lack political awareness, which is necessary for harmonious existence with the principles of a liberal society. Therefore, its is moderately easy for the influential and actual culprits in the middle and upper classes to maintain legislative measures that amplifies the status quo and isolates them from the violence that is associated with the drug dealing business (White 299).
conclusion, I would like to state that the relationship between morality and liberal
approaches that are used in the political and at times the moral codes that
exists in a community to govern drug use have not matured to a state of puberty
yet. The two are still developing and if all is well, a balance that allows for
effective governance of drug use in the society can be achieved. Nonetheless, liberalism
does exhibit some sense of morality in its attempt to address the drug problem.
For instance, liberalism is critical of the prohibitionist regime because it
lacks the proper moral standards in its attempt to tackle the drug problem
(White 299). However, drug use and abuse seems to be a wide topic that cannot
be easily summarized in one sitting and it demands that a philosopher be
adequately supplemented with knowledge from professionals in the realm of
Husak, Douglas N. The Philosophy of Criminal Law: Selected Essays. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.
McGinn, Colin. Moral Literacy, Or, How to Do the Right Thing. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub, 2000. Print.
White, James E. Contemporary Moral Problems. Australia: Thomson Wadsworth, 2009. Print.