Heinz Project – Ethics

Part One: You will read the Heinz Incident, then identify and define all the theories that we have studied in this class. You will also analyze the arguments presented and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.


Part Two: You will also describe and analyze one or two ethical challenges you either have faced in the workplace or anticipate encountering using theories studied in this class.


Part Three: You will define and explain your own ethical position and world view.



Ethics Assignment Instructions (150 points)

Complete all three parts.

PART I – Heinz Incident – (Worth 50 Points)

For Part I, read the Heinz Incident and complete the chart at the end of this reading.

The Heinz Incident

In Europe a woman was near death from a terminal disease.  There was, however, one drug which doctors thought might save her.  It was a form of radium that a pharmacist in the same town had recently discovered.  The pharmacist believed that he “had to always do what was in his own best interest,” and decided to charge one hundred times what the drug cost to produce so that he could solicit as much profit from his research as possible.  The cost for one dose was a quarter million dollars, and the doctors suggested that the woman would need four in order to be cured.  The sick woman’s husband, Heinz, went to everyone he knew to secure finances, but was only able to raise $300,000.00 which were all given in the form of gifts.  He went to the pharmacist personally and told him his wife was dying, asking the pharmacist to sell it cheaper or allow him to pay later.  The pharmacist flatly said, “No, it is not in my best personal interest to discount the drug.”  Heinz was desperate and he broke into the man’s laboratory and stole four doses of the drug for his wife.  Heinz and his wife went to a distant town where she received the new treatment, and was cured.

Heinz was so deeply moved by the incident that he used his savings to start his own research center where cures for a number of different terminal diseases were discovered and distributed to the public for a nominal cost.  Over the course of the next years, thousands of individual lives were saved because of his generosity.  Seven years after the theft, the pharmacist who originally discovered the medication was vacationing in this distant town and he recognized Heinz as the individual who had stolen his formula in order to save his wife.  He solicited the help of the local police and had Heinz arrested.  Heinz was later sentenced and a date was arranged for court proceedings.

You were selected to be on the jury discussing this case with five of your peers.  After several days in court where the defense and prosecuting attorneys each presented lively arguments, you and your peers were relocated to a quiet back room where you begin to discuss the evidence.  The room was quiet, with each juror reading through transcripts from the trial.  The prosecuting attorney presented the closing argument, with the following statement providing a summary of his thoughts:  “In closing, I would like to emphasize the sober reality that if Heinz is released, it would set a difficult precedent throughout the Country for others who might choose to steal for various motives.  A wrong decision by you, the jury, could negatively influence dozens of other futures cases throughout our Nation.  Enforcing the just penalty for theft which is established by our judicial laws is obviously in the best interest of our all our citizens.”

Juror one broke the silence after reviewing the final arguments by stating: “you know, I don’t think the prosecuting attorney’s closing arguments really make sense.  I mean, who really believes that the laws of this nation are always correct!  I’m sure there are some remote nations or people who would actually reward Heinz for his action.”  After a brief pause, he concluded: “in a sense, laws are really relative to culture, and therefore how can we possibly sentence someone for something that is not universally agreed upon as wrong?”

After a quiet moment juror two makes a point that the “selfish” pharmacist has lost a million dollars in revenue because of Heinz’s theft, and yet if Heinz is sent to prison his factory will close resulting in the loss of dozens of jobs. Over time, the revenue from these lost jobs would potentially be millions of dollars. In addition, he suggests, those being helped by the medical assistance will no longer have the medicine available at an affordable cost. “You have to do what is best for the most people,” this juror summarized, “and let Heinz go free.  In fact, I think you should lock up the pharmacist.”

In response juror three emphatically says: “sure the pharmacist was selfish, but he did nothing wrong.  He had the right to sell his discovery for any price he wanted to!”

Juror four thoughtfully adds: “I’m sorry for the loss of jobs and the impact of the community, but any way you look at it stealing is wrong….period!  Heinz should go to jail.”

Juror five quickly stands and states:  “I agree with juror four, but perhaps for a different reason.  The Good Book clearly states ‘You shall not steal’!  If God states stealing is wrong, it’s wrong… no questions asked!   I like Heinz, but he broke a divine command and is clearly guilty.”

After a moment of contemplation, the quietist member of the jury, number six, added: “Heinz was simply the better of the two men.”  “In fact,” he continued, “I believe his virtuous character and motives should be weighed more heavily than the rightness or wrongness of his conduct in determining the sentence or even his ultimate guilt.”

The above situation was modified from The Heinz Dilemma, constructed by: Kohlberg, Lawrence.  Collected Papers on Moral Development and Moral Education.  Cambridge:  Moral Education and Research Foundation, Harvard University Education Foundation, 1973.


Based on the information in the Heinz Incident complete the chart below. I will be looking for details on each juror.


PART I – Complete this chart. Make sure to answer all the questions for each juror.


Which theory does this juror represent? (6 Points)

Define each theory in your own words. Explain why this juror represents the corresponding theory. Give your analysis on whether the juror has a good argument or rationale. Indicate which juror you agree with. Explain why? (44 points)

Juror #1    
Juror #2    
Juror #3    
Juror #4    
Juror #5    
Juror #6    


PART II – Ethical Challenges (Worth 50 points)

List one or two ethical challenges you either have faced in the workplace or anticipate encountering.  For each ethical challenge listed use what you have learned in this course to discuss what you believe are the ethical standards expected of an employee when they encounter each challenge. Make sure to include the theory or theories we have studied in class that provided the foundation for your analysis of the ethical challenge(s).


PART III – Personal Ethics (Worth 50 points)

Indicate which ethical theory or theories studied in this course (Divine Command Theory, Subjective Relativism, Cultural Relativism, Act Egoism, Rule Egoism, Act-Utilitarian, Rule-Utilitarian, Kant’s Ethics or Virtue Ethics) best represents your own life and worldview. Provide a detailed illustration as to how this ethical theory has been illustrated by you through your own personal life or within your current vocation.

Submission Options: For this ethics assignment, you may submit your answers in a word document.


For credit, you must submit your Ethics Assignment in Blackboard.