Final Reaction Paper

Final Reaction Paper - Willie Reaves PHIL 215 9 April 2010...

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Willie Reaves PHIL 215 9 April 2010 Reaction Paper #4 The Virtue of Lifeboat Ethics With the global population growing exponentially and industrial food production increasing only arithmetically, it appears that governments of the world will soon be forced to take drastic action to significantly slow population growth or to augment the availability of edible food. Resource depletion is a serious issue facing not only cosmopolitan America, but also the entire world. Biologist Garrett Hardin’s “lifeboat ethics” model demonstrates that it is counterproductive for wealthy countries to send food to starving nations because it creates a cycle of dependency and inequality, and because it only amplifies future deaths due to fewer available resources. Hardin runs a utilitarian argument with consequentialist implications and further yields to a minimax theory because he attempts to maximize good while minimizing starvation in the long run. This paper will specifically endorse the lifeboat ethics model as it is related to the distribution of food to developing or starving nations by arguing that such distribution over a long period of time creates agricultural and economic dependency, fashions a cycle that promotes excessive consumption and domestic instability, and magnifies the population even more. First, Hardin argues that the planet is like a lifeboat with such a great number of people desiring entry that if we adopt, for example, Kantian ethics, which value each person as an end- in-themselves, the boat will sink due to weight and everyone will die. Although many may argue that the sanctity of life warrants attempting to save everyone, the reality is that the lifeboat possesses a carrying capacity that dictates the number of people that can logically enter. The environment is actually such a lifeboat, and when resources are stretched while the carrying
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2 capacity is exceeded, someone has to die. When humans attempt to outsmart nature by creating artificial remedies to issues, the outcome usually entails natural disasters and widespread famine. Insofar as agricultural dependency is concerned, most poor nations house a host of small
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This note was uploaded on 11/25/2011 for the course PHIL 215 taught by Professor Markcausey during the Spring '10 term at Emory.

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Final Reaction Paper - Willie Reaves PHIL 215 9 April 2010...

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