Mathieu Doucet
University of Waterloo
The war on drugs is widely criticized as unjust. The idea that the laws prohibiting drugs are unjust can easily lead to the conclusion that those laws do not deserve our respect, so that our only moral reason to obey them flows from a general moral obligation to obey the law, rather than from anything morally troubling about drug use itself. In this paper, I argue that this line of thinking is mistaken. I begin by arguing that the drug laws are indeed unjust. However, so long as they remain prohibited, I argue that we have strong moral reasons to avoid drug use. First, drug users are partly responsible for the violent and exploitative conditions in which many drugs are produced and distributed. Second, the unequal ways in which drug laws are enforced make drug use by many an unethical exercise of privilege. These reasons do not depend on the existence of a general moral obligation to obey the law; we ought to refrain from illegal drug use even if prohibition is unjust and even if we have no general obligation to obey the law. In fact, drug laws turn out to represent an interesting exception case within the broader debate about this obligation, and I argue that it is the very injustice of the law that generates the reasons not to violate it.
Keywords war on drugs   obligation   drugs   consumer ethics  war on drugs  consumer ethics
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2018
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Drug Laws Don’T Work.Michael Huemer - 2008 - The Philosophers' Magazine 41:71-75.
The Drug Laws Don’T Work.Michael Huemer - 2008 - The Philosophers' Magazine (41):71-75.
America's Unjust Drug War.Michael Huemer - 2004 - In Bill Masters (ed.), The New Prohibition. Accurate Press.
[Book Review] Drugs and Rights. [REVIEW]Douglas N. Husak - 1995 - Criminal Justice Ethics 14 (1):63-72.
Vice Laws and Self-Sovereignty.Peter Marneffe - 2013 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 7 (1):29-41.
Vice Laws and Self-Sovereignty.Peter de Marneffe - 2013 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 7 (1):29-41.
The Legalization of Drugs.Doug Husak & Peter de Marneffe - 2005 - Cambridge University Press.
Drugs and Rights.Douglas N. Husak - 1992 - Cambridge University Press.
Optimal Drug Use and Rational Drug Policy.Geoffrey F. Miller - 2011 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (6):318-319.
Can Drug Patents Be Morally Justified?Dr Sigrid Sterckx - 2005 - Science and Engineering Ethics 11 (1):81-92.
Does Drug Mis-Instrumentalization Lead to Drug Abuse?Tod E. Kippin - 2011 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (6):316-317.


Added to PP index

Total views
268 ( #41,816 of 2,533,482 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
54 ( #15,189 of 2,533,482 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes