1. Love Drugs
Romantic love has long been considered an emotional experience that arises in mysterious and
unpredictable ways between people who are attracted to one another naturally. It can be overwhelming, fleeting,
star-crossed, or long-lasting—but we typically think of it as outside of our control. What if we could control it?
In the United States, approximately 40% to 50% of marriages end in divorce.1 With new scientific
interventions, we may be able to reduce this number by increasing or prolonging feelings of love. “We treat
depression, anxiety and other emotion-based responses with drugs. If love isn’t working for us, why not add a
chemical?” asks Rich Wordsworth.2 Current research shows that oxytocin is key to the experience of love.
MDMA, various psychedelics, and some pharmaceutical drugs all prompt release of oxytocin and so also have
an influence on the initiation and persistence of feelings of attraction and love.3 There is anecdotal evidence
suggesting that these substances are linked with increased bonding that happens more quickly than usual and
lasts beyond the chemicals, thereby potentially deepening and strengthening romantic relationships. However,
in other cases, the use of such substances gives a false sense of love so that when a person is not taking it
anymore, the feelings of love disappear, which can lead to unexpected emotional separation and pain.4
Other substances have been linked with deadening the experience of love. SSRIs are commonly used to
treat depression and anxiety, but some of them have side effects that include blunting a person’s ability to
connect with others emotionally as well as sexual dysfunction. If this line of research were extended, we could
imagine using substances to manipulate who and how people love, either willingly or unwillingly. 5
So-called love drugs could help strengthen or stabilize long-term relationships; they could help people get
over difficult break-ups; or they could help individuals to leave abusive relationships.6 As scientists continue to
study the effects of chemicals on love, significant ethical concerns arise. Under ordinary circumstances, we use
emotion as our guide. But if we can change our emotions, then how do we know when we should? Is there
anything wrong with using an artificial or external stimulation for love if participants are willing? Would the
resulting relationship be in some way less real or authentic as a result?
STUDY QUESTIONS: 1.What, if anything, makes loving relationships (including romantic relationships) valuable
or important? How, if at all, would “love drugs” add to or detract from that value or importance?
2.What does it mean for a feeling or relationship to be authentic? Would love drugs make the resulting feelings
or relationships less authentic? Why or why not?
3.What are the morally relevant similarities and diﬀerences between using some chemical help to end the pain
of romantic heartbreak and using chemical help to strengthen one’s romantic feelings toward another? !
6 http://www.wired.co.uk/article/love-drugs-how-to-control-love-with-drugs and https://qz.com/953217/love-drugs-will-soon-be- a-
2. Forced Chemotherapy
In 2014, 17-year-old Cassandra Callender was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a treatable form of immune
cell cancer in the lymphatic system. In young adults and children with Cassandra’s condition, treatment with
chemotherapy and radiation provides an 85% chance of long-term survival. Cassandra, however, objected to
undergoing chemotherapy because she did not want “such toxic harmful drugs” in her body and wished instead
to explore alternative treatments. She understood that, without chemotherapy, she would most likely die. But in
Cassandra’s view, the negative side effects of chemotherapy would decrease her quality of life to such an extent
that any gain in length of life provided by the treatment would not be worth it.
Although minors cannot make their own medical decisions in most cases, Cassandra’s parents agreed with her
choice to refuse chemotherapy. However, courts have the authority to overrule parental decisions when those
decisions threaten the life of their child. When courts do this, they temporarily remove parental custody and
appoint a guardian to make medical decisions for the minor. In 2015, the Connecticut Supreme Court, after
consulting with medical professionals, ruled that Cassandra was to undergo chemotherapy against her will.
This ruling was met with controversy. Many supported the decision of the court and the opinion of the medical
community. After all, most people would judge that an 85% chance of long-term survival is worth undergoing the
temporary suffering caused by chemotherapy. Physicians are morally required to avoid causing harm as well as
to act in the best interests of their patients. Allowing Cassandra to decline chemotherapy would more than likely
have resulted in her death and therefore, many would argue, was not in her best interest.
Others, however, argue that the judicial ruling violated Cassandra’s autonomy. Though she was legally a minor,
at 17 years old she was no less well equipped than an 18-year-old to make her own medical decisions.
Cassandra appealed to the “matureminor” doctrine, which grants minors the authority to make their own medical
decisions if the court deems they are mature enough do so. This request was denied not because of concerns
that Cassandra was too immature, but strictly on the medical advice of health professionals. As a consequence,
Cassandra was forced to undergo the chemotherapy against her will. This kind of treatment can require up to
six months of intense treatment and care: In Cassandra’s case, she first went through surgery to have a port in
her chest installed for drug administration. She was then confined to a hospital, with her cell phone taken away,
often strapped to her bed and sedated.
1.Was it morally right for Cassandra to be forced to undergo chemotherapy in this case?
2.Who should have the power to make medical decisions for minors? Parents? Physicians? Courts?
3.What kinds of medical decisions, if any, should minors be permitted to make forthemselves?
|The Australasian Ethics Olympiad and the Shanghai Interscholastic Ethics Bowl
proudly present the first Australian/Chinese Ethics Olympiad.
No.2 High School of East China Normal University (Shanghai) & Rosebank College (Sydney)
Click here for the rules. Please note that these rules are from the UHSEB in the US and were rewritten for
online Olympiads within Australasia and so some aspects might need to be modified. (We will be negotiating some aspects
of the rules on the day.)
Moderators- Matthew Wills (Australia) and Leo Huang (China)
Judges Stefan Popov, Andrew Contantino, Paul Caudill
We will be using the following two cases for this trial:
These cases were published by the National High School Ethics Bowl Case Writing Committee under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license at
the University of North Carolina. For more information about the National High School Ethics Bowl visit http://nhseb.unc.edu