The Effective Concept of Lifeboat Ethics Essay

1482 Words 6 Pages
Lifeboat Ethics is a metaphor for the process of wealth and resource distribution as described by ecologist Garrett Hardin. In 1974, he published an article called, “Lifeboat Ethics: The Case against Helping the Poor,” that outlines his reasons that the wealthy nations of the world should not be wholly responsible for supporting the needs of the poor. Donald Kennedy and William Clark both wrote articles in regard to the concept of lifeboat ethics and the tragedy of the commons. In the article, Hardin defines the concept he terms lifeboat ethics and defends his utilitarian approach to the problem of wealth distribution by offering interesting solutions through use of his appeal to reasoning; however, his metaphor finds fault in assuming …show more content…
There are three logical solutions to this problem: admit all of the 100 to board the boat with the 50 people on it already and risk drowning from overpopulation, allow only 10 people on the boat and exclude the other 90, or to not admit anyone at all. Hardin also elaborates that if those on the boat choose to give up their place for one in the water, “The net result of conscience-stricken people giving up their unjustly held seats is the elimination of that sort of conscience from the lifeboat” (359). This means if those who gave up their seats to other less fortunate, there will be an absence of humanitarianism, as those who now hold the seats in the lifeboat could be extremely reluctant to give up their spot. This starts to become a slippery slope. If the rich countries keep allowing more to share in their resources, they begin to extinct themselves. At some point, there needs to be a limit in how much the rich can help the poor before the resources are completely gone. Hardin describes his views as utilitarian in manner in regards to his lifeboat ethics. Hardin researched extensively to support his utilitarian view on the situation of the rich against the poor. As is the case for most utilitarian proposals, the topics for lifeboat ethics are designed to be useful or practical rather than attractive. For this reason, his views are correct because of their practicality. For example, this article was published in 1974; his
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