Lifeboat Ethics

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Analysis of “Lifeboat Ethics: The Case against Helping the Poor In his essay “Lifeboat Ethics: The Case against Helping the Poor,” Garrett Hardin, who was Professor Emeritus of Biology at the University of California-Santa Barbara and considered himself to be a human ecologist, argues that helping the poor constantly is the major cause of overpopulation, and the issue of overpopulation leads to an unfair resources’ sharing and the destruction of environment for both of the rich and the poor. Hardin uses the lifeboat, which can hold certain number of people; if the number is over the carrying capacity, the lifeboat will sink and the people aboard will die, as an example to claim that a developed nation with too many people will suffer difficult situations because of the limited resources of its land. Hardin also provides statistics that the increased population in undeveloped nations is more than twice times the number of the developed nations to indicate the effect of this huge proportion will be a greater difference in living condition between the rich and the poor. Hardin acknowledges that the undeveloped nations cannot improve their ability to prevent emergencies and overcome difficulties after disasters if they know they always can get help from other parties, especially when the population grows faster than it used to be. At the end, Hardin concludes managing the reproducing number is a way to enforce a fair share of resources on people. Even though Hardin’s solutions for the issue of overpopulation lack practicality, he clearly state and explain how serious the problems caused by overpopulation are and how the issue progressively and damagingly affect people’s environment and its resources. Hardin keeps giving simple examples and drawing images through his words throughout the article to persuade both of his academic and nonacademic audiences that helping the poor is not practicable. First, Hardin illustrates that being on the lifeboat is...
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