100%(1)1 out of 1 people found this document helpful
This preview shows page 1 - 2 out of 4 pages.
Prof. BarnesENGL 101Sept. 2, 2012Lifeboat EthicsAs the world turns the world’s resources keep getting used up, wasted, and polluted. Environmentalist try to use the metaphor of the earth as a “spaceship” saying that we all share life on this planet, they argue, no single person or institutionhas the right to waste our resources. But they confuse the ethics of a spaceship with those of a lifeboat. A spaceship needs a captain, but our earth has no captain. The only captain would be the United Nations, whom is merely toothless tigers, and has little power to enforce any policy upon its bickering members. The world is divided into rich nations and poor nations, two thirds is poor where the other is rich with the United States being the wealthiest. Metaphorically each rich nation can be seen as a lifeboat full of comparatively rich people. In the ocean outside each lifeboat swim the poor of the world, who would like to get in, or at least to share some of the wealth. But each lifeboat has limited capacity, such as a nations land is limited to support a population.So here we sit, say 50 people in our lifeboat. To be generous, let us assume it has room for 10 more, making a total capacity of 60. Suppose the 50 of us in the lifeboat see 100 others swimming in the water outside, begging for admission to our boat for handouts. We can either follow the Christian ideal of being “our brother’s keeper,” or the Marxist ideal of “to each according to his needs.” On the Christian approach, everyone has the same needs so they could be seen as “our brothers,” we could take them all into our boat, making a total of 150 that’s designed for 60. The boat goes down, everybody dies, but justice is served.