Should we compromise our health in order to make more money?

by eli-daoust on September 10, 2013 - 9:15pm


Last season, Genevra Richards, member of the committee that produced Human Enhancement and the Future of Work in U.K. has introduced a new drug not yet on the market that would increase workers productivity in order to help firms make more money with the workforce that they presently have. It would help people to have more concentration on what they do. Employees would have more ease to do manual work even though they would have already done many hours of work. It would also help them pass through their day with a positive attitude even though the conditions aren’t always the best. Furthermore, it could help older people to work longer. This new kind of drugs raises a lot of debates amongst scientists and ethicists from the U.K who are asking for a debate on whether this solution is ethical or not. These experts are questioning if this technique shall be seen as exploitation or as an advancement of technology. They are asking if the technology will be beneficial for the workforce or will the consequences do too much harm?

            These debates raise opinion based on important and significant principles such as we shouldn’t use people as means. Every human has the right to be treated as a human, equal to one another and nourish their individual freedom and rights. People should not be exploited nor be used to help someone in power to reach their goal. It would help the factories ‘owners to exploit their employees and give them worse working conditions assuming that the drug would help their employees to endure the hard working conditions. On the other side of the debate we know that the situation which will make greater good is if these drugs are inserted in the workforce. Some employees might be exploited because of their higher capacity and productivity but more goods and services could be provided for the society which would have more wealth. A whole society and a country’s economy could benefit from this technology. If we look at both sides we can see that the greater good would be for the society and this means giving these drugs to the employees.

            I think that even though we could really benefit from this new drug and that it could help the economy, it isn’t worth it. Why should we compromise the working conditions of a few people for the wealth of our society? Each individual has the right to be happy and to have a job where they can fulfill themselves. This drug shouldn’t even be debated. What did we do with the human rights? It gives the impression that some people are compared to objects and there to quench the numerous demand of multinationals. We are living in a world where we defend individual’s rights but on the other side exploitation is still present. This could lead to more ethical questions such as if the business owners can require their employees to take this medicine to allow them to work for them. In my opinion, inserting this kind of drug wouldn’t be a technological progress but a regression towards what we have lived during the industrial revolution. If we cross this line today, what else will human have to sacrifice for people in power eventually? Aren’t we supposed to be doing progress?


CBCnews. "Drugs, implants to enhance work raise ethics debate." 7 november 2012. CBCnews. 7 september 2013. <


It is not surprising me with the constant evolution of technology that employers now have the option - a questionable option- to drug their employees to make more money. Without generalizing too much, let's think about all the substances used to stuff beefs and poultries in nowadays common meat industries (to get bigger animals) or about the hydrogenated oils in edible products (just to enhance shelf life). These actions are taken by companies which their main goal in to increase income and production yield. So why not pushing it further by drugging employees to get machinelike workers? Even though we live in a capitalistic society where gaining money is too much important, I believe there is a moral limit that businessmen should not cross. I agree with you that humans should not be compare to objects quenching the demand of multinationals. Why they don't buy robots instead? Employers are ought to respect their workers for who they are and for what they can achieve. Otherwise, what is happening with the respect of human rights?

I agree with you, the fact of putting our life at risk by enhancing our capabilities from a drug for money and success should not be worth it. However, for someone else with fundamental values that are wealth, success and career might totally disagree with us even though it is the same type of approach. In this case, it would be a consequentialist approach since we both look at the costs, the result, or the consequence of the issue.
For us, health plays a more important role than wealth and successfulness. For some of the population, however, this might not be the case. Additionally, this might also be perceived with the deontologist approach since the principle of consuming drugs to enhance ourselves is bad. At the end, it comes back to the principle of drugs being a bad thing. By example, a deontologist would not see the difference of this drug compared to marijuana since all drugs are bad.

I am commenting on your post because it is written really well and you give clear and useful information on the topic. I agree with you, the use of the drugs should not be allowed in order to enhance our work capacity at work. The workforce is a major asset if not the most important part of a company, therefore every employee should be respected by its employer. But, when we are giving employees drugs to make them more efficient, I feel like we are completely disrespecting them because we are treating them like machines and not as human beings. As a result, such practice is breaking an ethical principle which I believe is very important that says that we should not treat humans as means. Another important point is that we do not know how the employees will respond to the drug. How are they going to feel after a long and tiring day when the effects of the drug will be gone? In the long run some might not be able to continue working or might even feel depressed. Thus, this drug could also have really bad results on the worker's health. To which extent should employers be allowed to use their employees?

I find it fascinating to read about subject that concern brand new advancement that I didn’t know. It is always interesting and fun to learn about new technology. In addition, I totally agree with the fact that human rights should be the principal concern and always progress without offending any of them. These types of advancement who can control our behavior should really be taken seriously to avoid any possible negative secondary effects. If this drug gets in the market we need to make sure that only the persons who really need them will consume it and not the entire workforce. A similar problem is now occurring in our society where many children who doesn’t truly need drug like Ritalin, which help the general concentration, are consuming it for any reasons. Can it be possible that these pills become a future social norm, where everyone would take them and where every companies would require them in their employment policies?

When I first read the title of the post, I was sure this was going to be about GMO's or healthy foods or something, but instead I was treated something entirely different.

Workers have always been exploited by their bosses. There is a constant struggle between workers and bosses, workers and management, workers and mercantile 'society'. Bosses alienate workers from themselves by reducing them to mere objects; he is valued only in so far as he can produce for him. If a worker is to refuse to take the new drug and is therefore less productive, he may be eligible to have his salary slashed, fired, mistreated, etc. He may even be coerced into using the drug and suffering from degrading health. This would be the same as forcing coal miners into dangerous situations for the sake of excavating more minerals or fossil fuels. We are putting wealth over workers, profits before people, and it is not the way society should be ran.

Our workers are the ones who do everything for us; they make what we eat, fix what we break, manage what we won't. Should we really allow them to be mistreated this way?

In reading this post, I was really surprise to learn that such a drug exists. I think it is unbelievable how the world as evolve and that we are now able to produce pills to increase the productivity of people at work. In my opinion, even if this could be a revolutionary product, it should not enter the market. At least not before it as been really tested so we could know if there is some long term consequences or anything. Also, if this pills enter the market, we do not know how people would use it and they may be using it for the wrong reasons. For example, like you said in your post, employers may use this drug to exploit their employees and this is against the ethical principal of not using people as a means. Therefore, because it is impossible to know what would be the consequences of this drug if it enters the market, I strongly think that it is not a good idea to make it available to anyone.

This is a very clear tittle in a sense that a states the very point/goal of the article and what it is about. To this debate, I would position myself in favour of those who say that we shouldn't treat people only as a mean to get to our ultimate objectives. I think this discovery violates basic rights such as the right not to be slaved, because this almost turns out to be slavery. Is technology always there to serve us ? I don't believe it is.