FEEDBACK NEEDED: should bill steal the medicine?

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Thursday, May 12th, 2011

FEEDBACK NEEDED: should bill steal the medicine?

i’m gonna try out something a little different here on the ol’ blog. BUT, i need your help.

this will be a 2-part post, consisting of this entry and an explanatory post tomorrow. i don’t want to give away too many details other than to say that the following scenario is not something i’ve created. this has been around since the late 70s/early 80s (maybe prior to that??) and has been used, primarily, in connection with cognitive development psychology.

so, what do i need from you? read the following scenario and simply answer, in the comments, the question that it asks at the end (also feel free to email your response, comment on facebook or reply on twitter…though the comments are probably most constructive). don’t feel obligated to write a novel. it can literally be as short as a sentence or as long as several paragraphs.

there are no right or wrong answers. i’m simply collecting responses that will correlate with the follow-up post tomorrow.

thanks in advance!

A woman was near death from a special kind of cancer. There was one drug that the doctors thought might save her. It was 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, Bill, 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 from it.” So Bill got desperate and broke into the man’s store to steal the drug for his wife.

Should Bill have broken into the store to steal the drug for his wife? Why or why not?

let me know what you think!


  1. Michael says:

    “Should” Bill have broken into the store to steal the drug for his wife? The answer to “should” he steal at all is no. Would I do the same thing is a not as easy of an answer.

    The real question is what are you willing to do to ensure the safety and health of the ones you love. I would have broken in and to steal the drug and gladly paid the penalty for my actions.

    A problem with this question is that it opens up the option of going above the law and taking from others for your the well-being of those that you care about. A dangerous road to go down.

  2. Thomas says:

    Of course. The sum of the many possible ramifications for breaching our social, moral, and legal codes by theft, for all parties, is a small price to pay to save a person’s life. In time, as money allows, Bill can pay the druggist for the medicine and the damage to the building from breaking in, and anything else, anonymously if he needs to avoid criminal charges, or, if he is willing and able to absorb the criminal record, he can turn himself in after the treatment has been administered.

  3. This is rather like that movie where Denzel Washington takes the hospital hostage in order to get his kid a heart transplant. My vote: yes, he should steal the medicine. A life is more important than profits, and I’m a pinko anti-corporate commie in general. But, he should absolutely pay the legal penalty for it. His wife is still alive, but he’ll have to pay a fine or go to jail or whatever. I think this solution affirms the value of a life over profits, but keeps the stakes high enough to discourage others from stealing except in the most dire of circumstances.

  4. Jon says:

    Yes I think he should. I also think he should be tried by a judge and jury. The bigger argument to me is putting together a system where he shouldn’t have to make that decision. Lifesaving drugs should be available to all. Also, an “experimental” drug like this case are often initially sponsored by those running the tests. I realize the need for drug companies to profit and to fund research, but there’s definitely something wrong with this druggist who doesn’t seem to have any sympathy. Drugs are released all the time that are way more expensive than current options and minimally more effective, but because they’re on TV!(I can’t believe they’re allowed on TV!) people demand they receive THAT drug. We have such a stupid system that needs MAJOR repair before a complete collapse becomes unavoidable. Should I go on?

  5. Todd Erickson says:

    yes, but he should simultaneously sue the druggist for millions for dollars for killing his wife. The drugist can save her, but chooses to extort her for money she doesn’t have. Extortion and attempted manslaughter in the hands of the right lawyer.

  6. Jacob says:

    Hell yeah. I’ve written hot checks for groceries too. You gotta do what you gotta do. I’d never let my wife die for lack of $1,000. I’d rob a bank too. Life is short man. Money is just trash.

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