Unforeseen Bonds: Hardin's Rhetoric in "Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping The Poor"
As Andrew Kuper, a Fellow of Trinity College of Cambridge and researcher of philosophy, politics, and the modern world, once said "Since the costs to ourselves may be significant, how much ought we to sacrifice?" (Kuper, 1). A direct correspondence of such can be seen in the work of Garrett Hardin, specifically "Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping The Poor," versus Peter Singer, author of "The Singer Solution To World Poverty," and Alan Durning, author of "Asking How Much Is Enough." Garret Hardin, a former professor and ecologist, argues that the wealthier nations of the world need to not allow themselves to get caught up in helping the poorer nations. The article itself was published first in Psychology Today, a popular magazine read mainly by those in the United States. The article "Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping The Poor" discusses both competition for resources and resolving poverty and that's why the supporting articles make for worthy exploitation: as can be seen in the title, Singer's article deliberates a solution to poverty, and Durning's article addresses the over consumption of resources. Hardin attempts to invoke fear in his "Case Against Helping The Poor" through the use of the lifeboat and pasture metaphor, ad baculum, Red Herring appeal, an either/or fallacy, distressful diction, and catastrophically positioned and phrased juxtaposition. Hardin's article may be very compelling but that's only because it's been ornamented with a series of rhetorical strategies which become all the more apparent when assessed against the works of Singer and Durning. Durning's straightforward and insipid article makes Hardin's lifeboat metaphor stand out even more than if one were to just read through "Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping The Poor" alone. "Metaphorically each rich nation can be seen as a life boat full of comparatively rich people. In the ocean outside each lifeboat swim the poor of the world, who would like toget in, or at least to share some of the wealth. What should the lifeboat passengers do?" (Hardin, 476-477) Hardin uses the metaphor of a lifeboat in which the wealthy nations are already seated and the other poorer nations are stuck stranded in the sea pleading for a seat in the small boat but cannot get in because there is no way for the wealthier to determine who exactly to accept and upon what criteria and how are the wealthy to know if those stranded aren't to be the ones who will take advantage of the lifeboat and cause them to drown for allowing the poor nation in will cost them. Being on a lifeboat is terrifying, but is especially terrifying when you see others stranded beside you who wish to be in the same position you are. Hardin neatly and cleverly camouflages the persuasive techniques he uses to convince his readers of if the poorer, or developing nations of the world, were held up to the same standard as those of the developed nations, everyone would fail. In his article, Singer contends that moral justice is associated with a good sense of integrity in that if you give to charity, which is according to him morally superior to spending one's earnings on luxuries, someone deprived of the bare necessities will definitely benefit (which, for his example, is a child in need). This conflicts with what Hardin says: "complete justice, complete catastrophe" (Hardin, 477) Hardin uses this contrasting juxtaposition in the sixth paragraph when discussing how taking in all the stranded would cause the boat to sink. It is also an either/or fallacy in that there is no middle ground in helping the poor even the least bit but rather implies that helping will lead to "catastrophe." Obviously these discrepancies bring to light some fault with Hardin's argument. In this paragraph, Hardin alludes to the Biblical tale of Cain and Abel and how being "our brother's keeper" is simply idealistic because...
Cited: Durning, Alan. "Asking How Much Is Enough." The Anteater Reader. Ed. Ray Zimmerman and Carla Copenhaven. 9th ed. Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2007. 404-412.
Hardin, Garrett. "Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping The Poor." The Anteater Reader. Ed. Ray Zimmerman and Carla Copenhaven. 8th ed. Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2005. 476-484.
Kuper, Andrew. "More than charity: cosmopolitan alternatives to the "Singer Solution".(Debate: global poverty relief)." Ethics & International Affairs 16.1 (April 2002): 107(15).
Singer, Peter. "The Singer Solution to World Poverty." The Anteater Reader. Ed. Ray Zimmerman and Carla Copenhaven. 8th ed. Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2005. 500-504.
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