The Heinz dilemma is used in many different classes. One well-known version of the dilemma, used in Lawrence Kohlberg's stages of Moral Development, is this:
A woman was on her deathbed. There was one drug that the doctors thought might save her. It was derived from a form of radium that a druggist in the same town had recently discovered. The drug was expensive to make, but the druggist was charging ten times what the drug cost him to produce. He paid $200 for the radium and charged $2,000 for a small dose of the drug. The sick woman's husband, Heinz, went to everyone he knew to borrow the money, but he could only get together about $1,000 which is half of what it cost. He told the druggist that his wife was dying and asked him to sell it cheaper or let him pay later. But the druggist said: “No, I discovered the drug and I'm going to make money fro it.” So Heinz got desperate and broke into the man's laboratory to steal the drug for his wife. Should Heinz have broken into the laboratory to steal the drug for his wife?
Why or why not?
I would use this in my Psychology classes as a means to investigate moral development in the species. As previously mentioned, I did not teach much in this country. Students were asked to read the above story and ask their subjects what the right answer is. It is not important what the participant thinks that Heinz should do. Kohlberg theorized that the REASONING the subject offers is what is significant, the reason WHY for their response. I would say many times to my students that the YES or the NO does not matter. Only the WHY. So my students would come back with a number of subject responses and the determination as to what stage of morality the response indicated. Age and gender were also compiled as research information. Stay with me. There is a reason for this.
Below are some of many examples of possible arguments that might live in the six stages:
Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development
Stage 1: Punishment orientation.
Obedience to authority is important.
Example: “He shouldn’t steal the drug because he might get caught and be punished” (avoiding punishment) AKA punished people are bad.
Stage 2: Pleasure-seeking orientation. Action is determined by one’s own needs.
Example: “It won’t do him any good to steal the drug because his wife will be dead by the time he gets out of jail” (self- interest)
Stage 3: Good boy/good girl orientation. Decision regulated by the approval of peer group.
Example: “He shouldn’t steal the drug because others will think he is a thief. His wife will not want to be saved by stealing” (avoiding disapproval)
Stage 4: Authority orientation. Should uphold the law at all costs. Follow social rules.
Example: “Although his wife needs the drug, he should not break the law to get it. His wife’s condition doesn’t justify stealing” (traditional morality of authority)
Stage 5: Social-contract orientation. Rules are open to question but are upheld for the good of the community.
Example: “He should not steal the drug. The druggist response is unfair but mutual respect for the rights of others must be maintained.” (social contract)
Stage 6: Morality of individual principles. High value is placed on justice, dignity, and equality. Example: “He should steal the drug but alert authorities he has done it. He will have to face a penalty, but he will save a human life.” ( ethical principles)
There are several other Psychologists that we would study regarding human development across life span. Many offer some degree of predicted ages of various stages of human development. Lawrence Kohlberg did not offer much with regard to the above stages and predicted ages. There is proximate research into gender differences here but that is another rabbit hole.
Any way, I have come to decide that most racist-rapist-in-chief supporters are some how stuck in Stage 2. The above examples are not the full extent of all the possible answers obviously. Even the story itself can have many many tangents. But in general, they are clearly stuck in stage PRECONVENTIONAL while the rest of us seem to live in stage POSTCONVENTIONAL. Although Kohlberg did not offer exact ages, PRECONVENTIONALS are obviously younger in age, or much much less mature regardless of chronological age. Even the current occupant of the White House is clearly identified here. And so many of the deplorables and deplorable actions and events are face palming in “you gotta be kidding me” can be explained a bit perhaps using this as a structure of thinking.
Not that any of this can help in any way. After the parents are out of the picture, there is not much more that can be done to fix. I can lose weight but you can't fix stupid comes to mind. Morality can't be legislated.
But on a side note, clearly the druggist in the story was an R.