Can The LegalisaCan Not Deny Telepathy Does Exist Philosophy Essaytion Of Drugs Be Justified Philosophy Essay

When we want to decide if a particular substance should be legalized, by which I mean the substance is not entirely prohibited and is available to non-professional recreational users, the first enquiry should be into whether or not people will come to harm

Telepathy is one of the extraordinary powers that are related to mind reading. According to James E. Alcock (world book encyclopedia) “Telepathy is the communication or transformation of thoughts, feelings, or knowledge from one person to another without the use of the senses of hearing, sight, smell, taste, or touch.” (p. ??) Telepathy was introduced to the world in the beginning of 1880s. When the classic series of experiments with misses gray and Sir William Barrett, Professor Henry Sedgwick, Mr. F.W.H. Myers, and Mr. Edmund Gurney. ” Telepathy is one of three kinds of the Extra Sensory Perception (ESP)’the perception beyond the senses’; the other two are clairvoyance: the ability to visualize or perceive remote objects and events, and precognition: the ability to foretell future events. Most scientists doubt the existence of telepathy and other forms of ESP because rigorous tests have failed to produce any reliable evidence for psychic phenomena.”(Microsoft Encarta, 2008 © 1993-2007). The term itself (Telepathy) was used by the English poet Frederic W. H. Myers in 1882 . Pamela Thurschwell stated in her article ‘The Invention of Telepathy’ that ” Myers, for instance, saw telepathy as a hopeful sign for mankind. He viewed telepathy as an evolutionarily ascendant sense, one that was bringing humanity closer to heavenly connections to God; prayer could be seen as the ultimate telepathic experience. His evolutionary optimism provides one way of thinking very differently about the Zeitgeist of the fin de siècle.”( 2004,pg.503) many scientists have conducted several experiments on telepathy in order to prove it. In the time period between (1880s to1940s), most of the experiments on telepathy involved card guessing tests, or thoughts transference. Thoughts transference was between a sender (who has an object) and a receiver (in another room). (Pratt, Rhine, Smith, Stuart, & Greenwood, 1966). In the (1960s and 1970s) these experiments were enhanced in a way that involved controlled studies of dreams, where people could get some thoughts or pictures that are sent telepathically while they are sleeping or dreaming from a sender in another room (Radin, 1997). In 1885 after the creation of the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) ,telepathy became the first psychic phenomenon to be studied scientifically. When Telepathy was first exposed to the world it wasn’t accepted .However, Interest in telepathy increased following World War I , because people used it to try to communicate with their dead loved ones. Finally Although many scientists provided their best efforts to prove telepathy , But according to “Skeptics say that instances of apparent telepathy are explained as the result of fraud or self-delusion and that telepathy does not exist as a paranormal power.” So until now, no one was able to convince scientists that telepathy actually exists . The existence of telepathy has been a controversial topic for a very long period of time; some people still consider it as an illusion. Yet, there are those who believe it exists and those who doubt it. After all the research I did I believe that it is more logical to try to discover what we don’t recognize instead of acting as if it doesn’t exist. My voice goes to those who support it.

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Many scientists doubt the existence of telepathy. They state that People can’t believe anything that isn’t based on solid evidence . Moreover, the conditions under which it’s created and its concept are vague and unaccepted socially. Finally, the theories that explain its existence contradict with most of the fundamental science laws and theories.

Telepathy’s existence is still a question that most scientists doubt its certainty. The problem is that people don’t admit what is not scientifically proven due to the fear of unknown or to the fact the science rules our life. According to Freeman Dyson in his book (extraordinary knowing, 2007, pg.vii) “I don’t believe anything that is not based on solid evidence. As a scientist, I have to consider it possible that ‘these scientists whose claims were supporting telepathy’ have concocted the story or deluded themselves into believing it. Scientists call such stories ‘anecdotal’ meaning that they are scientifically worthless. ” Moreover E. J. Dingwall has introduced this topic in the book (Telepathy and clairvoyance, 1999, pgs.6-8). He stated that we can only bring attention to this phenomenon by exact experiment. Furthermore, he stated that we can’t believe in its existence while most of the results of the experiments were not the same. He claimed that “it is difficult to persuade the mediums to conform to the exact methods of experimental psychology.” Finally he argued that it is impossible to force the medium (the person which has the abilities on telepathy) to come to a psychological laboratory at a certain time or day and do the experiment. Dr Stephen Juan stated that “The fact remains that there is no scientific proof that human telepathy exists” So it’s truly difficult to believe something while we are aware that no one is able to prove it.

Telepathy is created under vague conditions . It might seem like a super natural phenomenon while it’s not. However , People don’t want to accept it socially because they think that telepathy will violate their freedom and privacy One of these people are Rupert Sheldrake and Pamela Smart (2005) who argued that telephone telepathy (it’s when some people this that they know who is calling them.) is only a delusion not a reality. They stated that “An illusion of telepathy could be created if people remembered when someone called (or e-mailed) soon after they thought about that person but forgot all the times that they thought about someone who did not contact them. Also, an illusion of telepathy could arise if the person had an unconscious expectation that someone he knew well would call or e-mail, based on an implicit knowledge of that person’s behavior. Until recently, there were no scientific investigations of telephone telepathy to test these hypotheses.” Moreover, many scientists stated that telepathy or the power of reading minds is considered as the god’s power. They only can practice such powers. According to Micho Kaku Mind reading was always considered so essential that people usually used to relate it to the gods since they are known for their abilities to read people’s minds. (Michio Kaku, 2008).Finally , The Most important reason why telepathy cannot be accepted by the public is that its concept violates people’s freedom and privacy .According to Rupert Sheldrake in this book ‘The Sense of Being Stared At’ “People have fears about the invasion of their own privacy if telepathy really exists.”(2003, pg.8). So basically it’s is inconvenient if anyone can detect your feelings or ideas especially if you really want to keep these ideas for yourself.

Scientists claim that if they for instance were convinced with the fact that it exists, they should consider that the whole process of thoughts transference violates many laws of nature and science theories. According to [] “The fundamental law of nature will not allow any communications without a physical channel” So if we were able to send or transfer information without going through a physical median or losing energy during the process then the law of thermodynamics would be violated. Moreover, Dr. Stephen Juan has stated in his article (If whales can communicate by telepathy, why can’t humans, 2007) that telepathy violates many science laws. He stated that “With telepathy, it doesn’t seem to matter how far apart two people are or how many other people there are in between them when the “communication” takes place. The messages seem to be able to span great distances, slide around corners, penetrate walls, and travel under water. The process does not seem to be strictly bound by time either.” Moreover, he mentioned the two theories that scientists came up with to support telepathy which are “The Radio Wave Theory and the Timeless/ Space less Psychic Field theory”. The two theories will be explained in details in the following paragraphs, but in general radio theory represents thoughts as radio waves that brains detect. While the timeless/ space less theory states that there is a special field were thoughts are stored in. Micho Kaku “The brain’s electrical activity can be detected at best only a few centimeters away from the skull”(physics of the impossible , 2008 ,pg.82) Moreover, Michio Kaku has represented the difficulty in the telepathy actual concept in his book (physics of the impossible ,2008,pg.80) and simplified the process where thoughts are transferred to a condition to go to an active football game and try to make a conversation with people around you. The sounds of these people are “drowned out by the noise of thousands of spectators.” So it’s obvious that telepathy is surrounded with vagueness and rejection which make a controversy on its existence.

On the other hand many scientists have come up with convincing claims that support the existence of telepathy. Many scientists developed several theories to prove telepathy. Moreover, there are many real examples of existed telepathy in real life that we encounter every day. And finally they have conducted many experiments for a very long period of time in order to provide sufficient evidences and the results of these experiments were above the level of chance.

For several years scientists have made-up many theories to explain the process of thoughts transference. Examples of these theories are the radio wave theory and the timeless/ speechless theory. According to Dr. Stephen Juan in his article (If whales can communicate by telepathy, why can’t humans, 2007) “According to the Radio Wave Theory, telepathy works like radio waves. People often speak of “vibes” as though there were telepathic “brain waves” going from one person to another.” Michio Kaku has also discussed something similar to the radio wave theory in his book (physics of the impossible, 2008, pg.76)”In the nineteenth century scientists suspected that electrical signals were being transmitted inside the brain. In 1875 Richard Caton discovered that by placing electrodes on the surface of the head it was possible to detect the tiny electrical signals emitted by the brain.” So this means that there are some signals that are being transmitted from the brain. According to [] some physicists expressed that, according to quantum theory, it may be possible to share raw awareness or emotion, and this goes as an evidence for telepathy. Quantum theory of spirits can be shortly stated as following. If two Quantum particles were entangled, there will still be a connection between them later even if separated. So after all, even if these theories involve many vague realities, but this does not imply that they don’t really explain the phenomenon. At least prove that something is going on.

The first and most fundamental kind of evidence for telepathy is the personal experience .For many years; scientists provided their best effort to separate telepathy from imaginary phenomena such as spiritualism. First of all Rudolf Tischner has mentioned in the book (Telepathy and clairvoyance, 1999, pg.226) How they are trying to separate telepathy from spiritualism “our attempt to explain telepathy …by a psychical theory and to assume the existence of the super individual mind have nothing to do with spiritualism … the fact that we have been led to experience telepathy … and assume the existence of a purely mental factor to explain it …. Does not prove anything about the fate of the individual soul.” So it’s not engaged with these imaginary phenomena. Actually there are many existed means of telepathy in our lives like whales, twins, telephone telepathy, and motherhood telepathy. For instance according to Dr. Stephen Juan in his article (If whales can communicate by telepathy, why can’t humans?, 2007) “Whales possess a form of communication that allows them to signal other whales hundreds of miles away. Some experts say it is indeed a form of telepathy.” Another example of telepathy is the sharing of thoughts and feelings between twins. “Many sets of twins claim to have been involved in some sort of ESP. Some twins say they know when their twin is angry or upset, even when they two twins are in different countries. There have been various cases of one twin crying whilst the other is being hit, one twin feeling labor pains whilst the other is giving birth, and one twin feeling heart pain whilst the other’s having a heart operation. In all these cases the twins were far apart from each other.”( . Finally according to Rupert Sheldrake in his article (Gosh, I was just thinking about you, 2006, pg.1) “Many mothers still seem to feel when their children need them, even if they are miles away. Children whose absent mothers responded to their distress telepathically and returned to them would be more likely to survive than children with unresponsive mothers; so telepathic traits may have been favored by natural selection.” He also mentioned phone telepathy (another example of existed telepathy.) ” Most people claim to have had experiences in which they think of someone for no apparent reason, then that person calls; or they know who is calling when the phone rings before picking it up; or they call someone who says “I was just thinking about you!” Many people have had similar experiences with e-mails.” So no one can deny that telepathy really exists. Rupert Sheldrake made a survey in four counties Argentina ,USA , Britain and Germany. In Argentina the percentage of women who believe in telepathy is 97% , men were 88% . In USA the percentage of women was 92% and 84% men. In Britain women were 98% and men were 78% . Finally in Germany women were also about 98% and men were 85%. So it is extremely clear that we are surrounded with several examples of telepathy which proves that telepathy is a reality.

. Finally the most powerful proof is the results of experiments that were conducted to prove telepathy . .There were many experiments on human telepathy that had results above the chance. One of these scientists is Dr. W. von Wasielewski . According to E. J. Dingwall “In 1913 Dr. W. von Wasielewski conducted a series of experiments with Miss v. B., She had the gift of describing, and often of drawing, objects carefully packed; she often did these experiments were under conditions which made fraud impossible. Although telepathy cannot be considered excluded in most cases; but the experiments, which were very carefully planned and carried out, certainly prove the existence of supernormal faculties.” (Telepathy and clairvoyance, 1999, pgs.19). The number of correct hits in this experiment was 80% which is a very large percentage. Another researcher is Joseph B. Rhine who had conducted several experiments with cad-guessing. Dr. Stephen Juan has mentioned Rhine’s experiment in his article about telepathy “Rhine began conducting what are still considered the most famous experiments in this area. Rhine tested hundreds of people using cards specially designed by his colleague, Karl Zener. These so-called “ESP cards” consisted of a deck of 25 cards, five each with one of five figures on its face (a star, a cross, a square, a circle, or three wavy lines). After the cards were shuffled, subjects attempted to correctly guess the figure on the card after the figure was mentally “sent” to them by a person looking at it. The number of correct responses was then compared to chance. Through years of experiments, neither “senders” nor “receivers” of telepathic messages were ever discovered to be performing beyond chance.” (If whales can communicate by telepathy, why can’t humans, 2007, pg.2) The level of chance on this experiment is 20% while on average the percentage of correct guesses was around 22-25%.After that his assistants have conducted more experiments on telepathy that were really successful. According to Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer “A series of experiments conducted by J. B. Rhine’s assistant, Joseph Pratt and Pearce …..By the time the Pearce-Pratt experiments were completed, the two men had conducted 1,850 trails out of which Pearce had achieved 558 hits (Correct answers). Pure chance would have predicted he’d accurately guess 370.”(Extraordinary knowing, 2007, pg.88) Finally according to Rupert Sheldrake “In dream telepathy experiments. From all 450 dream telepathy trials, the overall hit rate was 63%, while the percentage expected by chance was 50%.”(The Sense of Being Stared At, 2003, pg.50) So all these experiments have provided significant results that were above the level of chance. Although there was no solid evidence, but it should be possible to believe in facts without theories.

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If I had the chance to express my opinion regarding the existence of telepathy , I would say that I support it . I think telepathy exists because many people have experienced telepathic calls in their lives. Moreover, if indeed the results of most of the experiments were not very significant , there are many reasons that are behind this failure . Finally , I don’t think that telepathy contradicts with science laws . In fact it completes science and enlarges our ideas about mind and brains .

Personal experience is a very important aspect in this case . Many people have stated that they have had encountered situations with telepathic calls . According to Rupert Sheldrake in this book (The Sense of Being Stared At) “many people have noticed that their animals respond to their thoughts and intentions. (Sheldrake, 2003 ,pg.20). Pets do actually know or detect feelings of their owners . They usually run towards the door once their owner arrives without knowing that he/she is coming . And it’s really wired . I mean how other animals or plants can communicate . How does the cat know that her babies are in danger . The secret behind telepathy is the essential connection between two objects that are really related to each other . Another example is by Rupert Sheldrake and Pamela Smart in the article (Testing For Telepathy In Connection With E-mails.) “Most people claim to have had experiences in which they think of someone for no apparent reason, then that person calls” . This happen very often with everyone . I know we may think that this is a coincidence . But in fact it happens very often that we need to realize that there is something else other that a coincidence . Finally Rupert said that according to Eason “Many nursing mothers claimed that despite the distance they often knew when something was wrong with the baby because their milk lets down.”(Eason,1992) . Actually many other scientists claimed that the natural breast-feeding related the women to the baby . Even if this baby was not hers . In another case by Rupert too , the mother was an actress . She left her newborn baby with her mother . On the stage suddenly her breast milk started flowing in a very annoying way . Obviously she had to stop what she was dong and leave . When she reached home she realized that her babe was crying for a very long time and her mom was sleeping . If these experiences don’t prove telepathy , at least they show that there is a power that connects these people or animals to each other.

The experiments that were conducted to prove telepathy provided results above the level of chance . Although the results were not very significant , but there were many reasons behind this failure . First of all according to Rupert Sheldrake in the article (Testing For Telepathy In Connection With E-mails.) “In most tests on telepathy , the ‘senders’ and ‘receivers’ were strangers, while telepathy in real life generally takes place between people who know each other very well.”(2005 , pg.2) So the main concept of telepathy was violated here . This concept states that it’s the communication between two minds that are really related to each other in a way was violated here . Moreover, E. J.Dingwall stated in his book (Telepathy and clairvoyance, 1999, pgs.6-8) that “it is difficult to persuade the mediums to conform to the exact methods of experimental psychology.” he also stated that the these people who are doing the experiment should be treated in a very sensitive way and it takes time to gain their trust and give them confidence. This had a great affect on the experiment’s results which provided different results every time . Finally , according to J. B.Rhine (1937) the results of most of the card guessing games were not very significant because guessing the same sequence of cards for hundreds of trails became very boring. People couldn’t provide the same effort and potential for every experiment . Finally we should consider that the size of the sample was very large that has reduced and affected the percentage of hits . I believe that we should reconsider these aspects and many others before judging telepathy , and denying its existence.

The final and the most powerful claim is a respond to the claim that says telepathy contradicts with science laws . E. J. Dingwall stated that “scientists do not recognize telepathy because they think that, even if such a thing was true, they ought to band together to keep it suppressed and concealed. It would undo the uniformity of Nature and all sorts of things which scientists cannot carry on their pursuits.” (Telepathy and clairvoyance, 1999, pg.1) In fact I believe that telepathy completes science and add many theories to it . As science progresses it always changes the boundaries of what is considered scientifically normal . As Rupert stated “The enlargements of science did not contradict or invalidate what was already known , but built on it.” (The Sense of Being Stared At,2003 ,pg.3) so telepathy actually completes science . It doesn’t contradict with its values or our beliefs . In addition E. J. Dingwall gave a very interesting example in his book (Telepathy and clairvoyance) “We may recall the Rontgen Rays, which were most starling and not quite easy to fit into existing theories, and Radium, Which seemed to undermine that fundamental law of natural science ” the conservation of energy “, but which was finally fitted into the edifice of science.” (1999, pgs.12) Now radium is one of the most important elements in the world . Any other invention from our century would have seemed impossible and imaginary to physicists in the previous centuries . Finally , as Karl popper said “Matter is no longer the fundamental reality . Fields and energy are now more fundamental tan matter” . We can’t prove everything , or we don’t have to provide materialistic evidence in order to prove the existence of telepathy . After all , no one was able to actually see that any object consists of atoms and electrons. while on the other hand a whole science was created about them . So anything that is not proved now , might be proved later , but this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist .

To conclude, science cannot rule the whole world and its beliefs. By the time, as we learn more and more about the human brain maybe one day we will be able to uncover all these vague phenomena, or maybe more. And as Michio Kaku states “If you remove a single transistor in the CPU of a computer, you are likely to cripple it. But there are recorded cases in which half the human brain can be missing, yet the remaining half of the brain takes over.” So the human brain is the most surprising organ in the human body. And much information about this organ is still mysterious. So maybe telepathy really exists, although if the explanations about it are still vague. Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer said “If there’s anything real about telepathy, the current experiments suggest that it’s unlikely to be reliably captured by measures relying on consciously processed mental information. While some people, sometimes, have some comparatively clear access to some pieces of unconscious information, access to that information is notoriously unpredictable and always incomplete.”(Extraordinary knowing, 2007, pg.237) .Finally, although the claims against telepathy were convincing because we don’t usually believe anything that is not based on solid evidence we don’t believe things that involve errors or illusions or violate our beliefs and concepts. But in this case the other side argument is convincing too. After all if there were experiments with valid results, there are many examples of telepathy in our real life, and finally there are theories to explain this phenomenon. Finally I believe in the existence of telepathy , it has many examples in our lives . Many people have experienced telepathic powers and abilities . Moreover , there were many explanations for the failure on most of the experiments , or for the insignificance of the results . Furthermore, I believe that science is always changing and it has to change in order to satisfy what is being discovered . Telepathy doesn’t contradict with science . In fact it expand our ideas , and prove that the human mind is not just nothing but the activity of the brain . It’s a mysterious secret that no one until now is able to undercover . At the end I need to as you this question why can’t we believe that telepathy exists?! Aren’t most of our beliefs in this life surrounded by vague? But we still believe them without the solid proof. So hopefully someday scientists will be able to explain such phenomenon. Not only ignore them and their existence.


as a result of the drug being made available. But this assumption rests upon an initial normative ethical decision where we ask on what grounds a government or legal entity should be entitled to prohibit certain substances by use of force and coercion. John Stuart Mill puts forward two possible conditions which must be met for a government to interfere with someone’s privacy and freedom of behaviour. The first principle is what I will describe as the ‘harm principle’, while the second one is what I will call Mill’s ‘soft paternalism’, which is a practical extension of the harm principle.

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Mill argues that the only criteria for limiting freedom of behavior with legal or physical measures are if the consequences of the actions result in harm to another member of society. If a person’s activities do not result in harm to another person then a government has no rational grounds for preventing that behavior, even if the behavior breaks a social taboo. As Mill puts it: “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community … is to prevent harm to others” [1] . According to the harm principle, then, we would have grounds to legalize drugs as long as we could see no way in which this would result in harm to another person. This means that harm is a jointly sufficient and necessary condition for prohibiting a substance or a type of behavior. If these conditions are not met then we have no rational grounds for making drugs illegal. The practical implementation of this principle means we would be justified in prohibiting a school bus driver from smoking cannabis while driving, as this could result in harm to other people, but we would not be justified in stopping him from smoking cannabis in his own home.

The second condition, which follows naturally from the harm principle, is a condition of soft paternalism. If we are entitled to prohibit types of behavior in order to reduce harm then it follows that harm can befall someone due to ignorance and lack of consent. The soft paternalist stance means that we would be entitled to prohibit someone from taking a drug if they did not know the possible harmful consequences of taking the drug or if they were not of a sufficient metal state to appreciate any danger. If we were to legalize drugs then we would also have to satisfy the sub conditions of ‘consent’ and ‘fore knowledge’, which are jointly sufficient conditions for freedom of behavior along with the harm principle. The practical results of this policy would mean that a government would have no grounds in preventing someone from harming themselves by using drugs which are highly addictive and potentially self destructive drugs such as heroin as long as they consented (i.e. acted on their own free will) to using the drug and had fore knowledge of the consequences. We would only make selling heroin illegal to children or people who were not entirely responsible for their own behavior such as mentally disabled people or insane people. We would also be obliged to make the consequences of taking such a drug clear to the consumer.

The first possible objection to the conclusion of Mill’s argument outlined above is that there are far reaching social consequences to legalizing drugs which the harm principle does not cover. We could consider, for example, the extortionate cost of drug treatment which it could fall on the state to provide. We might also be suspicious that legalizing drugs and making them available on such a wide scale would result in a moral decline and a threat to an orderly civilized community. These objections essentially expose Mill’s harm principle and soft paternalism as being socially myopic. Although drug related behavior which may result in harm befalling people other than the drug taker are a priori undesirable, and that harm is therefore a sufficient condition for prohibiting drug use, it is not the only sufficient condition. It does not follow that, just because individual recreational drug use does not result in immediate harm to another individual, it will not cause havoc if it became a widespread cultural practice. Mill’s argument for justifying the legalization of drugs, his harm principle, cannot be the sole criteria for making ethical judgments. This means that the harm condition may be a sufficient condition for deciding if drugs should be legalized, but it does not mean that it is the sole sufficient condition nor does it mean that it is a necessary condition.

The point to be made here is, I think, that normative deliberations over ethical first principles are inconclusive due to this type of enquiry not being able to really see what the consequences of drug legalization are. We should supplement the harm principle and soft paternalism with descriptive ethical questions, such as ‘what the cost of the war against drugs?’ W.F Buckley Jr. points out the wider social implications of drug taking in a social environment where it is prohibited by law. The fact that drugs are illegal makes them extremely expensive which mean that many drugs users must turn to theft to satisfy their habit, which may ‘require stealing up to $5,000 worth of jewels [or] cars’ [2] . If the fact that drugs are illegal results in a likelihood of harm to other people then it follows that we should at least consider the legalization of some drugs on these grounds. The harm principle, then, must be considered in a wide scope which include sociological and economic considerations such as those pointed out by Buckley.

Another possible objection to the legalization of drugs due to Mill’s conditions being met is that some drugs are highly addictive, so addictive that it constitutes a breech of an individual’s freedom of will. An individual cannot continue to consent to use drugs if he is addicted in an extreme physiological sense to a drug such as heroin. Strong drug addiction does not satisfy the ‘consent’ condition of Mill’s harm principle which means that we should prohibit someone from obtaining such a drug even though he consents to this addiction initially. Soft paternalism would extent to prohibiting the sale of highly addictive drugs in order to protect the individual’s legal and moral autonomy. The harm principle here is too narrow to encompass the unique effects drug taking can have. We must instead rely upon a Kantian understanding of the moral agent, in which we understand a moral agent is an end in itself, and since powerful addiction would violate this, then we should prohibit highly addictive drugs. Kant’s categorical imperative claims that ‘human freedom is realised in the adoption of humanity as an end in itself.’ [3] This means that even though someone consents and has foreknowledge of drug addiction and decides to get himself addicted to drugs his decision is essentially immoral. A possible condition for the legalization of a drug could be that it is not so addictive that it will interfere with an individual’s autonomy or encourage him to act in ways which are harmful to him. If we assent to these arguments there would be no grounds to justify the legalization of heroin while there would be grounds to legalize and permit the use of drugs like cannabis and salvia divinorum which are not highly addictive in a physiological sense.

The problem with this objection can be outlined by clarifying what exactly free will is, i.e. what conditions have to be met for an individual to have free will. Frankfurt defines the freedom of will as being the possibility of having done otherwise [4] , which means that as long as one’s will is synchronized with one’s actions, one has free will. If you desired not to take a drug and someone physically forced you to do this you would not have free will as you could not have done otherwise. Frankfurt’s position on free will is what I will describe as a ‘coherentist’ position, by which I mean an individual acts freely if his primary intentions coincide with their behaviour even if they are unable to prevent this behaviour. If an individual who is addicted to drugs and is unable to act in any other way because of this then this is still an instance of free will as long as this behaviour coheres with previous decisions made under consent and foreknowledge. A heroin addict is not forced to take drugs even when addicted in the sense that they could have done otherwise. Although his behaviour is determined by the drugs his will is not impeded in the way that brainwashing or direct physical coercion by another person will impede free will. Kane describes the condition of personal autonomy as “the power to be the ultimate producers of [one’s] own end and the power to make choices which can only and finally be explained in terms of [one’s] own [will] (i.e., character, motives, and efforts of will) . [5] ” If these conditions are met then there is no realistic breech of the consent and foreknowledge and there is no ground to prevent the sale of highly addictive drugs.

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We can conclude, in regard to the above arguments, that Mill’s harm principle and the sub-conditions of assent and foreknowledge give grounds for legalizing the sale of drugs as long as these conditions are met. The only grounds on which we could make a drug like heroin illegal is by taking a what I will describe as a ‘strong paternalist’ approach to welfare, in which citizens are prohibited from partaking in activities which will inflict harm of them even though they themselves desire or are aware of harmful consequences. This must be balanced, however, upon the implications of actually making these activities illegal. A strong paternalist approach to car safety is to make it illegal for motorists not to wear seatbelts. There are only positive consequences of this legislation. Making heroin illegal, on the other hand, increases the price of heroin to levels only affordable by serious crime, increases the risk of negative health implications do to unregulated heroin production and includes the risk of people infecting themselves by using unregulated drug taking equipment and diverts money and resources into enforcing these laws at the expense of others.

Lord Devlin, on the other hand, argues against the legalization of drugs considered taboo or immoral in a society from a view point which does not necessarily rely on the negative consequences to individuals or the harm to an individual’s autonomy. Lord Delvin argues, first of all, that any social group posses a right to protect its own existence. He then goes on to argue that particular morals and ethical standards which a community stands by should be enforced to protect the existence of a community. He then concludes that moral standards can be maintained by force and the curtailing of individual liberty. “Society”, he claims, “may use the law to preserve morality in the same way it uses it to safeguard anything else if it is essential to its existence.” [6] If it could be shown that the legalization of drugs such as cannabis or heroin would contradict moral standards then these “deviations from [the] society’s shared morality …are capable in their nature of threatening the existence of society” and therefore “cannot be put beyond the law. [7] ” The problem with Lord Delvin’s argument is that it fails to give an adequate explanation as to why a deviation from a routine moral standard is necessarily a threat to a society’s existence. It simply does not follow that if an individual practises certain types of behaviour in the privacy of his own home, such as smoking cannabis, this results in a negative impact to the survival of a society. It also does not take into account that particular customs of a society may have evolved to meet specific needs which is no longer relevant. On the other hand, moral standards may have been enforced due to a lack of scientific understanding. It is certainly true that widespread incest could result in a threat to the existence of society due to genetic diseases becoming more prevalent in society, and it is therefore rational and just to enforce compliance to non-incestuous marriage. But it difficult to see how the legalization of a non addictive hallucinogenic drug with few side effects during moderate consumption could pose any threat to a society’s existence.

To conclude, I will summarize the conditions which should be met for the legalization of a substance to be considered ethically legitimate. It must first of all only be made available to those who consent and have foreknowledge of the consequences of the drug, no matter how addictive or harmful it may be when it is consumed. The results of the consumption of the drug should also have no negative consequences towards society at large. This could mean that a drug which, when consumed, could result in harmful environmental impact or damage to others who are not consuming the drug, should be banned. This could also mean that people are prohibited from taking the drug at particular public locations. It could also mean that the drug is only allowed be consumed at special facilities in which it can be regulated. The practical implementation of this could mean that one would be permitted to smoke cannabis consume ecstasy at particular venues.


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