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War on Drugs Philosophical Issues

Essay by review  •  December 11, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,861 Words (8 Pages)  •  993 Views

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Have we really lost the war? What was shall you ask-the war on legalizing drugs in America. Is it ethically and morally correct to advocate the legalization of drugs, no matter what type-from marijuana to heroine and cocaine? Would legalizing drugs such as these, constitute a hypocoristic democratic government of the United States? The legalization of drugs has been an enduring question that has embraced our past philosophical scholars. Philosophers James Q. Wilson and William F. Buckley Jr., each have their own standpoint's and outlooks as to what it would be like if our government were to make such drugs legal in the United States. In order to validate this argument, I will attempt to show how the illegal use of drugs has been a concern of many American's for quite some time through philosophical findings.

First we must take into account the following philosophical quote, "the greatest good for the most amount of people", in asking ourselves, is it in the best interests of the American citizens to actually legalize such illegal drugs? How can so many people be fighting what is considered a "war" in the sense that they, the drug addicts, actually see a benefit in making illegal drugs legal, and readily available to them on a steady basis. However, this isn't to say that all of those who are fighting to legalize drugs are addicts, but for the purpose of my argumentative stance, that's exactly how I see fit.

In order to better understand this argument, we must ask ourselves; "why are certain drugs illegal" and what would each of these two philosophers say regarding this question. I am going to assume that it would be safe to say that Wilson would fight for the fact that illegal drugs are bad because of the harm that they cause. Not only do they cause intense harm to the user, but it also creates harm to other members of society. What kind of harm to the user, how about the fact that using drugs can alter ones metal capacity as well as their physiological features. A very important statement that Wilson makes is "Addicts would no longer steal to pay black-market prices for drugs, a real gain. But some, perhaps a great deal, of that gain would be offset by the great increase in the number of addicts" (Wilson, 297), Wilson then goes on to say that "Ð'...the costs of having more addicts around would be largely if not entirely offset by having more money available with which to treat and care for them" (Wilson, 298). Maybe in this sense, we actually are doing the "greatest good". There is no way possible, through Wilson's views to justify the fact that there are any benefits to legalizing drugs. Wilson essentially says that we shouldn't allow people to simply flush their lives down the toilet all because they choose to live within a life around drugs.

On the contrary to Wilson's statement "Ð'...there are risks in legalizing cocaine or heroin still favor it because, they think, we have lost the war on drugs" (Wilson, 297), Buckley would justifiably argue that the war on drugs is bad for the economy. How so? In essence, because of the fact that there is so much "dirty money" out on the streets due to the plague of illegal drugs, if we were to legalize drugs it would improve the economy immensely. Unfortunately, because the market of illegal drugs on the street could be said to very prosperous, Buckley is primarily concerned with shifting that revenue to the government. The government would now be able to set a regulated price at which they deem appropriate for these drugs and also set any regulatory taxes associated with the price of these drugs. In a hypothetical analysis, we could agree that legalizing drugs could possibly reduce the amount of crime in a society. The question does arise though, would this mean that it could decrease the amount of drug addicts, or could it potentially increase the amount of addicts? One would only hypothesize that if we were to now make drugs readily available from the federal government, we would hope that this would eliminate all drugs on the street. As we obviously know that this won't totally eliminate all drugs on the street, we could argue that by legalizing drugs it will make our streets a safer place. From Buckley's point of view since, the random violent crime associated with illegal drugs is astronomically high, if we were to legalize them, we could only hope that this would lower the crime rates. If we were to rationalize our thinking to be that of a criminal, we know that this person, say Person A, has drug that he or she really "needs" to get their fix. Our only hope to get that drug would be to commit some violent act and forcibly take those drugs from Person A. Now if we were to take Buckley's "advice" and legalize drugs, we have just shown how the crime rates would be lower, through the riddance of criminal acts for the purpose of obtaining illegal drugs. Not only would the legalization of drugs hopefully create a safer society, we would now do away with the fact that there are so many impure drugs on the "black prosperous market". Unlike Wilson, here Buckley sees absolutely nothing wrong with letting one flush their life down the toilet. Essentially, Buckley feels that we can reduce social harm through the legalization of drugs.

Wilson and Buckley's view of the war on drugs also incorporates that of John Stuart Mill, on his "cost-benefit" analysis. Here the cost-benefit analysis is described as being "the greatest good for the greatest amount of people". What could be the harm to society as opposed to the benefit to society in making drugs legal to the people of the United States of America? If people are acting in ways in which it is "the greatest good for the greatest amount of people", then what's the problem?

By taking into consideration all viewpoints of Wilson, Buckley and Mill, as much as I am against the legalization of drugs, I actually think that no; in fact we haven't lost the "war" on drugs yet. However, we need to allow ourselves as American citizens the choice to either stand up and fight for what we know is right, or if we choose do so, eventually just "flush our life down the toilet". By doing so, we have integrated Mill's thought on that it's someone's civil liberty to choose the freedom of

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