Authors
Mathieu Doucet
University of Waterloo
Abstract
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
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