Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping the Poor

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  • Topic: Garrett Hardin, Argumentative, Lifeboat ethics
  • Pages : 4 (1386 words )
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  • Published : September 22, 2010
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In the article Lifeboat Ethics: the Case Against Helping the Poor, Garrett Hardin’s main argument is that we should not help the poor.

The article starts by describing the difference between the spaceship ethic, which is where we should share resources because all needs and shares are equal, and the lifeboat ethic, we should not share our resources and using this ethic we should not help the poor. He argues because of limited resources, tragedy of commons and no true world government to control reproduction and use of available resources, we should govern our actions by the ethics of lifeboat.

The main argument is as follows:
1. If we have limited resources, then we should govern our actions by ethics of lifeboat and not share our resources. 2. We have limited resources. C3> We should govern our actions by ethics of lifeboat and not share our resources. 4. Since we should govern our actions by ethics of lifeboat and not share resources, the poor will suffer if we do not help them. 5. Lifeboat ethic advocates that we should not help the poor. C6> We should not help the poor. The above argument looks valid. So let us examine whether the premises are sound.

In premise 1, this premise is argued for under ‘Adrift in a Moral Sea’. Assuming a lifeboat with an excess capacity of 10 more passengers, those in the boat should assess whether they should admit 10 more people to it if the excess capacity acts as a safety factor. Its argument is as follows: 1. If we have no one on the lifeboat, then we have safety factor. 2. If we have safety factor, then there will not be disastrous outcome. C3> If we have no one on the life boat, then there will not be disastrous outcome. C4> If we have no one on the life boat, then survival is possible. 5. If survival is not possible by undermining the disastrous outcomes from the unforeseen circumstances with excess passengers, then the boat will sink. 6. If the boat sinks, then we should not aid the poor in the waters. C7> If...
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