Case1 MckelphinEthical IssueIn Homework Case1 Heinz has a choice Essay

Case#1 Mckelphin

Ethical Issue

In Homework Case#1, Heinz has a choice to steal a drug or not steal a drug; which makes this a difficult moral decision. Even though, his wife is dying of a rare cancer, the choice is really what is best for himself. Violation of his ethical judgment is imminent, since both choices have compromising outcomes

Alternative Solutions

Lawrence Kohlberg developed six stages of moral reasoning. He found that all stages pass in order, regretfully, some people never pass all stages.

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According to Kohlberg Stages of Morals Development (Svara, 2015 pp.24-25), Heinz options are as follows:

1. Heinz should not steal the drug; if so, he may go to prison bringing his family shame and dishonor within the community. However, if he should steal the drug, its valued at only $400, he offered to pay for it, just not the value the druggist sought.

2. Heinz should steal the drug since he happy if he saves his wife, even a prison sentence will not stop him.

However, if he should not steal the drug because prison is a disgusting and he would suffer more at the thought of a prison cell than his wife’s death.

3. Heinz should steal the drug since his wife wants it; he wishes to remain a respectable husband. However, if he should not steal the drug because stealing is not legal, and he is not a thief.

4. Heinz should not steal the drug because the law prohibits theft, making it illegal. On the other hand, he should steal the drug for his wife, then take the given punishment for the crime, but must also pay the druggist the balance owed.

5. Heinz should steal the drug because regardless of the law, people have a right to choose life. Consequently, Heinz should not steal the drug because the druggist has a right to receive full payment for his property.

6. Heinz should steal the drug, since saving a human life is worth more than and intellectual or property right. However, he should not steal the drug, because all lives are equally important, and more patients may have this rare cancer and will require the drug just as desperately.


For this case, my decision is YES for Heinz to steal the small dose of drug to cure his wife. For Heinz to go through the trouble of tracking down the one person who has the cure to his wife’s rare cancer, raise $2,000 of the $4,000 requested and risk going to prison, he truly appreciates his wife and value her life more than the consequences.

Based on both my alternative solutions number 4 and 5, the decision is revolving around Stage 4 and Stage 5 of Kohlberg’s Model (Svara,2015) Stage one is punishment and obedience; if Heinz conforms to society rules, he might avoid punishment. Stage two is self-interest meaning Heinz motivation is based on his viewpoint and his desires. Stage three is to avoid disapproval by living up to other people’s expectations and be a thoughtful person. Stage four is preserving law-and-order, hence, citizens should obey the laws and respect authority. Stage five is upholding a social contract and the rights of the society that as agreed. Stage six is universal ethical principal, the highest attained moral development, where laws are followed and changed if they are not ethically correct.

The law says it is illegal to steal, but the law also says “a terminal patient who has exhausted other options can petition the FDA for a drug in the approval process under a program called expanded access, or compassionate use.”( A national right to life. 2017, Feb 27). They save lives in hospitals every day, as a child raised by a nurse, I do not see how saving a life could be wrong if they wanted to live. Heinz stealing the drug would support the action of saving his wife’s life, which is not wrong. With the facts presented, it does not appear that he has any duty or obligation to steal the drug from an outside source. The only duty I could entertain, is the self-imposed spousal responsibility Heinz keeps for his wife. (Lewis, 2012. p34) He may be a husband that took his wedding vows to heart and has created his own responsibility to take care of her. Even if he did not love his wife, I think he would still try to save her life. He was trying too hard to gather funds and find a cure, he valued her, that is obvious.

It should not make a difference; a human life is a life. He found the cure and new were it was and was on the mission to obtain it, so he should continue his mission. If this was not his wife, but a stranger, that is different. Putting his life and family at risk for the sake of a stranger can be a tricky situation because he is no longer just dealing with life. Now Heinz is involving, other people, but is the stranger valued less than his wife, technically, NO, because the stranger is still a human life. (Lewis, 2012. p35) I am a Certified Caregiver, I would save a life, but risking my family to save a stranger by stealing, is why I made my decision be Stage 4 and Stage 5. By following the law, I would find all the help possible to get the drug for the stranger because they deserve to live. If this was a drug to save a pet, Heinz, should say his goodbyes and have them euthanized. I am a believer that since I cannot understand an animal, if they are in a stage of suffering that a surgery might help, I would rather, let them go peacefully. We do not know if they are still in pain and I would hate to one day learn that animals felt pain the way humans do.


I believe the druggist has a depraved indifference to random strangers’ lives due to his aggressive demand high price for a small quantity the drug. With access to innovative developments in the medical industry, big corporations and pharmacist, same as the druggist, are “contributing to the rise in prescription drug costs, including lack of pricing transparency, regulatory barriers, a shortage of comparative clinical data between the cost-effectiveness and value of a drug” (Daniel, 2016) The druggist then dismissed Heinz payment plan proposition and compensation of a lesser amount at that moment, without compassion or empathy for Heinz wife. During the second week of this class, we learned that the basic model of ethics that “not all people think about ethics in the same way or have the same depth of ethical reasoning.” (Svara, 2015 p. 11). Even though the druggist did not care about Heinz cancer stricken dying wife, he was not violating any laws.

My answer to Heinz is to steal the drug for his wife regardless of the law because she has a right to live, then take the given punishment for the crime, but must pay the druggist the balance he owes. Get a good lawyer because he may be able to bet the charges and spend all his time with his wife instead of in prison.


A national right to life. (2017, Feb 27). Wall Street Journal Retrieved from

Daniel, H. (2016). Stemming the Escalating Cost of Prescription Drugs: A Position Paper of the American College of Physicians. Annals of Internal Drug, 165(1), 50.

Lewis, C. L. & Gilman, S. C. (2012). The Ethics Challenge in Public Service. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Svara, J. (2015). The ethics primer for public administrators in government and nonprofit organizations (Second ed.).

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