Contemporary Moral Problems Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Ethical Issues Involved

The increased danger of heart disease in urban Asian areas as a result of an unhealthy lifestyle affects several areas of basic human needs. Specifically these include the need for health and happiness. The people most affected by the danger are those living in urban areas. The lifestyle promoted by stress-laden jobs and a lack of physical activity affects the basic need for health.

Health is adversely affected because of the various structures in place in an urbanized setting. The development of motorized transport for example has severely restricted the human tendency to exercise the body in these kinds of settings. Furthermore health is affected by the ready availability of addictive drugs such as cigarettes and alcohol. These are often used to cope with work and other urban-related stress factors, because exercise is no longer used as a stress reliever.

The basic human needs for food and shelter are however met efficiently by means of higher paying jobs and greater luxury in living conditions. Nonetheless, health and happiness are adversely affected by premature deaths as a result of heart disease. Indeed, the economy of the country is being strained as a result of preventable heart disease.

The poor are furthermore also adversely affected. While they do have structures that cater for their basic needs, their health is affected even more badly than that of the rich. Medical services are simply not able to cope with the health needs of persons who neglect their bodies as a result of the urbanized lifestyle. The ethical issue here is thus the fact that an unhealthy lifestyle appears to be promoted by the media and by large tobacco and alcohol companies. These companies appear to thrive on promoting smoking and drinking as practices that help rather than harm.

Positive and Negative Consequences of the Urban Lifestyle

Positive consequences of living in an urban setting include the fact that all goods and services are readily accessible, even to the poor. The comfort level of living is thus raised significantly. Furthermore there is a greater amount of jobs available, with better incomes than what would be the case in a rural setting. Transport is available by means of either public transport or motor vehicles. The immediate result of this lifestyle is thus comfort and food availability. Still, these are short-term consequences, of which the results could be disastrous.

The kind of food most readily available for example is fast food, with few healthy alternatives. Healthy foods and exercise opportunities are often also more expensive than fast foods such as MacDonald's and KFC. The immediate consequences of this include the fact that it is easy to find and pay for food. In the long-term however the regular consumption of such foods leads to problems such as heart disease and obesity, which are threatening to become a national phenomenon.

Another problem is the money and effort required to physically exercise. Gym memberships are expensive, and together with the fact that many people find exercise unpleasant, serves a deterring factor for healthy habits. In contrast to this, persons in rural settings often exercise as part of their daily routine, rather than having to stretch an already tight time schedule in order to go to a gym. These problems exacerbate the long-term effects of unhealthy eating.

The conditions of the urban setting thus include work-related stress, which, combined with only minimal exercise, result in using substances such as tobacco, smoking and unhealthy food to cope with the stressful conditions found at work. The long-term, negative consequences are thus far more serious than the level of benefit derived from the positive consequences.

The Positive against the Negative

As seen above, there are several positive consequences in terms of basic human needs when living in an urban environment. When weighed against the seriousness of the negative consequences however, it becomes clear that the negative consequences outweigh any short-term benefits that might be gained.

In terms of the economy, it must be granted that there are definite benefits within the urban environment. Time and physical energy are for example saved by the industrial and electronic production of goods and services. It has also been mentioned above that these are more readily available to rich and poor, and the quality of these are at a higher level than at rural settings. This is good for the economy, as more manpower and monetary income are available to continue offering high quality goods and services.

This apparent benefit however is being defeated by the health hazards expounded above. The gains in the economy are however offset negatively by the losses incurred as a result of unhealthy living. Measures to cure preventable heart disease for example are extremely expensive, specialized, and often not available. The result of this is a high premature death rate, especially among men. This in turn adversely affects the workforce and thus the economy. A diminished workforce is available, and the above-mentioned increase in quality of goods and services is only on the short-term, while in the long-term preventable heart disease decimates the workforce. The quality and availability of goods and services are thus projected to diminish accordingly.

A further negative consequence is the basic human requirement of relative happiness and peace in living. Premature and indeed preventable death among a prominent sector of society results in devastating emotional losses to families. Mostly the person lost in this way is the breadwinner of the family, and thus the bereft families place a further burden on the economy. The worst element within this situation is the fact that it could be prevented.

Ethical Character of the Actions

There are several major players influencing the factors mentioned above. If these players could be encouraged to make positive changes, the health hazards currently faced in Asia in terms of health and well-being can be curbed. The major perpetrators of action include the government, industries promoting products such as tobacco, alcohol and fast food, and the advertising industry.

The government is currently doing very little to curb the unhealthy habits of its nation. Its actions or lack thereof thus exacerbate the problem. By not adding regulatory measures to fast food, alcohol and tobacco industries, the government by non-action encourages unhealthy habits. Furthermore unhealthy products are more readily available than health products, and frequently at a lower price. Price regulation also falls within the domain of the government, and industries could be regulated and controlled by enforcing price regulation. It is thus unethical of the government to not recognize the problem or curbing it.

The fast food industry thrives on the fact that its products are easy and fast to produce, which caters for the fast-paced world of the urban citizen. It is much easier to buy a prepared meal than it is to buy for example a health food product and preparing it at home. Of course the fact that unhealthy foods tend to be tastier than health food adds to the addictive quality of this food. This is further encouraged by the advertising industry, promoting unhealthy foods as the answer to all problems from time constraints to depression. This is also true of the tobacco and alcohol industries. Although regulations require warning notifications on packs of cigarettes, the advertising industry downplays this and overwhelmingly promotes the qualities of the product that are perceived as the best solution to urban problems. Most of these problems are stress related.

When evaluated from an ethical viewpoint, it is clear that the above actions are unethical, as they tend to deceive the public. While a cigarette and a drink may therefore provide solutions to the short-term effects of stress, advertisements fail to help people recognize the hazards of excess. Furthermore no significant or indeed equivalent healthy solutions are offered, and thus the public is not given a…

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