Heinz’s Dilemma Essay

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In most ethics and morality classes, Heinz’s dilemma is a common example used. Originally, Heinz’s dilemma was comprehended by a Swiss psychologist known as Jean Piaget. Afterwards, Lawrence Kohlberg who was an American psychologist expanded Heinz’s dilemma to introduce the theory of Stages of moral development (Kohlberg, 1981). This paper presents defenses for the 3 possibilities in the Heinz Dilemma as used by Kohlberg in the stages of moral development.

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Option #1

In the first option, Heinz should steal the drug and refuse to be imprisoned since the scenario is unfair (“Heinz dilemma,” 2018). From the viewpoint of higher morality, the first option makes some sense. Despite the fact that stealing is wrong, in these case, there is a larger morality which is the issue of life and death (Kohlberg, 1981). The life of the woman should not be sacrificed by the druggist just for money. The druggist is working under greed. Through love and depression, Heinz is forced to break into lab to steal the drug. The ability of Heinz to pay for the drug was only $1000, however the druggist could only accept a minimum of $2000. In addition, Heinz was still ready to plan for the payment of the remaining balance, but the druggist denied him despite using less money to come up with the drug. No one should blame Heinz for the wrong deeds committed since it was out of depression.  

Option #2

In the second option, Heinz should not steal the drug since he will break the law (“Heinz dilemma,” 2018). Despite the situation that Heinz is facing, he should not consider the act of stealing the drug since it adds up to breaking the law (Kohlberg, 1981). The love and desperation that Heinz has for the woman should not make him think of becoming a criminal by stealing. Heinz should have considered other means of raising the amount such as seeking for contributions from friends and family that may assist him. Besides friends and family, he should have seek assistance through urging leaders as well as politicians to contribute towards the amount required to purchase the drug from the druggist rather than entering into a crime (Kohlberg, 1981). Despite the druggist being unfair to the situation his wife was undergoing, breaking into the lab could necessarily not solve the problem since he could be caught before accessing the drug and end up in jail while the wife may die.    

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Option #3

In the third option, Heinz should accept the sentence after stealing the drug (“Heinz dilemma,” 2018). This option falls under the conventional stage (Minnameier, 2011). Heinz faces the challenge of a high social standards that subjects him into judgement from family and friends (Kohlberg, 1981). In this scenario, social conformity is considered since Heinz has the need to make see his wife survive and also be a good husband (Kohlberg, 1977). Thus, in this situation, Heinz is caught up by what other people think of him and what comes into play is self-interest but more so conformity.


The paper has discussed the justification of the 3 possibilities in Heinz Dilemma using three different perspectives. From the discussion, different options can be considered by the scenario being faced by Heinz based on Kohlberg‘s stages of moral development.   

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  1. Heinz dilemma. (2018). En.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 11 January 2018, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Heinz_dilemma&oldid=646764520
  2. Kohlberg, L. (1977). The Implications of Moral Stages for Adult Education. Religious Education72(2), 183-201. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0034408770720209
  3. Kohlberg, L. (1981). The philosophy of moral development. Cambridge [u.a]: Harper & Row.
  4. Minnameier, G. (2011). Lawrence Kohlberg: an introduction. Journal Of Moral Education40(4), 539-541. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03057240.2011.619338
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