. . . This got me thinking, if we could create a halluconegenic drug that had absolutely no side effects (apart from making you feel euphoric and taking you out of reality) would it be ethical for an individual to consume it? And would it be ethical to allow it within a society?
Is there an assumption here that the reason that, say, taking heroin is unethical solely because of the unwanted side effects (addiction, habituation, possibility of fatal overdose)?
If the effect of a drug is to “take you out of reality”, does that not itself raise ethical issues? Most ethical traditions value truth, and the search for truth, and assert that the real has a meaning and significance which the imaginary and illusory does not. We are real creatures; that which cuts me off from reality cuts me off from myself. Is that strictly ethical?
Consider alcohol. While it does have potential side effects, it is possible to enjoy alohol, including its mind-altering properties, in a way which minimises or avoids the harmful consequences of those side effects. If, in my own home, I have a glass of wine with dinner and feel fairly mellow as a result, few people would see any problem. But if I drink to insensibility every night then, even if I am blessed with a constitution which enables me to turn up for work every morning bright and fresh, I think people would say that there is an ethical issue. This behaviour is damaging to me.
So a drug which “takes you out of reality” is not ethically neutral. There may well be conditions within which its ethically bad effects are minimised, and there may be countervailing benefits, as with the glass of wine at dinner. But the drug always has the capacity to diminish me.