As we get ready to launch the Research & Hope website, I am faced with a moral dilemma that would make any budding philosopher proud. Do I hold fast to my ethical principles, or earn enough money to speed up the research and help more people?
At the moment, Research & Hope has the potential to help numerous stroke survivors, but this is not sufficient. There are so many people that we could help: those suffering from Parkinson’s disease, acquired brain injury, cancer, and a vast array of other conditions. The longer it takes us to generate these sections of the website, the longer people suffer needlessly. As soon as the website starts to make money, I intend to employ researchers. Using the systems I have designed, it would take around four months for two researchers working full-time to generate discussion pages on 20-25 potential treatments for a chronic disease such as Alzheimer’s.
The main source of funding for the website will come from sponsorship. The idea is simple: I will find one sponsor for each potential treatment. But who should I approach? For example, it would be relatively easy to get a stem cell clinic to sponsor the page on stem cells, and I could follow this model until I had made a tidy sum, but I believe that this would compromise the integrity of the website. Like every good philosopher, I want to show both the arguments for and the arguments against each course of action. I can’t imagine this type of sponsor gleefully handing over money while I explain all the potential problems with their treatment. In addition, the entire website could potentially be perceived as a series of advertorials promoting a collection of vested interests.
According to the great philosopher Immanuel Kant, when you are faced with a moral conflict, you should follow his fundamental rule (Categorical Imperative). The gist of his rule is this: imagine that your actions become the rule that everyone will follow. As I reflected on that, I thought, “No, this is not the way I would like every future website to be organised.” I had to come up with another solution.
The second option came from my philosophically-minded web designer, Paul McDonnell. His idea fitted more neatly with one of my favourite philosophers John Stuart Mill’s idea of ‘the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people’. His proposal was this: I should look for sponsors that are one step removed from the therapy they are going to sponsor. For example, Music Therapy could be sponsored by a large chain of music shops. This would allow me to hold onto my ethical principles, while still gaining some sponsors. Fantastic!
The only problem is this: Paul’s idea is great in theory, and when Research & Hope is widely known, I’m sure it will be the perfect solution. However, at the moment, I am finding it very difficult to get past the switchboard of a major music outlet, or a supermarket chain, or a large book retailer.
As I said in my very first blog, I believe that there is an answer to every problem, even though it is not always easy to find. At the moment, I stand with Socrates: I am very aware that I know nothing!
If anyone out there can advise me on how to reach the sponsors I need to keep the research flowing, please contact me. If you know a potential sponsor or a philanthropist, please direct him or her to this blog, or to the website, which will be at www.researchandhope.com in a week or two.