Blog Post 4- Dr. Belldegrun and the Ring of Gyges

Dr. Belldegrun, a physician who co-founded Kite Pharma has capitalized on America’s desperate need for the cure to cancer. Even without a product on the market, the company is worth about $170 million. In addition to that, the company’s share price has soared to about $50 from an initial price of $17 in 2014. Many attribute the success of Kite to the public’s general excitement over immunotherapy.

The drug Kite is working on will be able to harness the body’s immune system to attack certain cancers, mainly blood, and inevitably save the lives of many. Although Kite is providing a life-saving treatment the public desperately needs, it does come at a cost. The company will reap  an immense financial benefit as American taxpayers will actually be paying twice for the drug, once for research and development, and a second time to buy it.

James Love, director of Knowledge Ecology International, said, “If this was not a government-funded cancer treatment- if it was for a new solar technology, for example- It would be scandalous to think that some private investors are reaping massive profits off a taxpayer-funded invention”.

Dr. Belldegrun  is a prime example of what Plato believes human nature to consist of. In the “Ring of Gyges”, Plato explains that justice is actually a human artifact or a social construct. Humans are driven completely by self-interest, and not by the interest of others.

As Plato puts it, “A man is just, not willingly or because he thinks that justice is any good to him individually, but of necessity; for wherever anyone thinks that he can safely be unjust, there he is unjust.”

Although Dr. Belldegrun may look to be a hero on the surface level, a deeper analyzation of his motives reveal he is driven completely by his own interest, and not of those who are in need of the drug.  He is simply a distinguished master of his craft, able to capitalize on the human desire to fight death.


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