Lifeboat ethics

This article appeared in BioScience, vol 24 10pp. Currently available in Stalking the Wild Taboo. Susanne Langer has shown that it is probably impossible to approach an unsolved problem save through the door of metaphor.

Lifeboat ethics

Get Full Essay Get access to this section to get all help you need with your essay and educational issues. The Case against Helping the Poor.

Get Full Essay 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.
Environmentalists use the metaphor of the earth as a "spaceship" in trying to persuade countries, industries and people to stop wasting and polluting our natural resources.
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Hardin uses the metaphor of a lifeboat to make his argument. Lifeboat ethics is a metaphor for resource distribution proposed by the ecologist Garrett Hardin in

To state his point of view, the author makes the metaphor of a lifeboat and divides the world into rich nations and poor nations. The rich nations seems like people inside the lifeboat, while the poor ones are people outside the boat.

And then lots of assumptions are made, to illustrate the harm and danger for rich nations to help those poor ones. The metaphor, a lifeboat full of rich people can help the readers visualize the first object in the scene, lifeboat.

Every lifeboat has a limited capacity and resources which are only enough for a small number of people. But the surrounding swimmers, poor people, who want to get onto the lifeboat, are uncountable.

However, it comes to me that the Lifeboat ethics ethics is so ridiculous since it is based on a completely wrong metaphor of rich nations and poor nations.

It seems that in Lifeboat ethics metaphor rich nations are playing the role of King while poor nations become paupers that could contribute nothing but only wait for help.

This metaphor is so unfair because it totally distorts the relationship and exaggerates the differences between rich nations and poor nations. As we know, in the modern society no single nation could survive without the premise of intercommunication and mutual benefit.

Even for the wealthiest and strongest nation the United States, imports and foreign help are quite necessary. For example, as one of the biggest consumers of gasoline in the world, every year the United States needs to import plenty of gasoline from Middle East, which might be considered as poor nations, otherwise the American economic would collapse promptly.

In this case, how could the rich countries always be the people inside the lifeboat or rescuer for others? Garrett Hardin then argues that our planet faces the problem of overpopulation.

Therefore, while population of poor nations is increasing tremendously, the ratio of rich nations steadily decreases. The initiative of rich countries to help the poor resulted in creation of The World Food Bank.

The Argument of the “Lifeboat Ethics” Essay Sample

Yet, Hardin claims that this program stops the development of poor nations and lets them rely on rich countries when emergency occurs. Hardin beliefs that immigration is another push factor of the overpopulation issue because it allows people to escape from poor nations and burden the ecosystem of rich countries.

But Hardin ignores a basic connection between rich nations and poor nations. It completely neglects the fact that all the people in the world are sharing the same living environment.

Once this only living environment is destroyed, all the people around the world would need to bear the kickback together, no matter rich or poor. Therefore, helping poor nations is not only a form of humanistic expression, but also a kind of self-help for rich nations. In other words, those rich nations, in a way, help those poor ones out of egoism and the concerns on their own interests, which is quite different from the generous aid for the people outside the lifeboat by the people inside the boat.


Therefore, I think the earth actually is a big ship, and all the nations are the people in this ship. All the people on board, regardless rich or poor, shall have the same basic task to protect this ship, since no one would survive once the ship sinks.

It is useless to blame for anyone at this time. In fact, the overpopulation problem has become a big burden on the use of resources in the whole world, rather than for those poor nations only.

Those rich nations may help those poor ones by admitting immigrants.

Lifeboat ethics

By admitting immigrants, rich nations would not only help to ease the burden of poor nations, but also solve the problem of negative birth rate in some rich countries. It is a good way for both poor nations and rich nations.

As a conclusion, the lifeboat ethics introduced in the text is not so proper. Helping the poor in need is not only out of humanism but also for the consideration on their own interests for the rich nations.

As to the overpopulation problems, it is useless to blame the poor nations only.

The Argument of the “Lifeboat Ethics” | Essay Example

Although the control of growth rate is the basic solution, the effort to ease the harmful influence by both poor nations and rich nations is quite necessary in the short term.

More essays like this:LIFEBOAT ETHICS Garrett Hardin In the seventies and eighties, a neoconservative movement broke with the official rhetoric of America’s good intentions around the world. The harsh ethics of the lifeboat become harsher when we consider the reproductive differences between rich and poor.

Multiplying the Rich and the Poor Now suppose the U.S. agreed to pool its resources with those seven countries, with everyone receiving an equal share. In my intro class I’m teaching Garrett Hardin’s famous article, “Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping the Poor.”I hadn’t appreciated quite how horrible it is.

It’s not (just) that I disagree with his conclusions – I teach material I disagree with all the time. Tone of lifeboat ethics essay; Tone of lifeboat ethics essay.

Living on a lifeboat by Garrett Hardin - The Garrett Hardin Society - Articles

by | 21st November Tlu admissions essay for graduate research paper on religion in america funny art critiques essays good films to write essays about yourself o level elective history essays robert brym soc essay a rose for emily essay conclusion. 99 jarige vrouw. Lifeboat ethics is a metaphor for resource distribution proposed by the ecologist Garrett Hardin in Hardin's metaphor describes a lifeboat bearing 50 people, with room for ten more.

The lifeboat is in an ocean surrounded by a hundred swimmers. The harsh ethics of the lifeboat become even harsher when we consider the reproductive differences between the rich nations and the poor nations. The people inside the lifeboats are doubling in numbers every 87 years; those swimming around outside are doubling, on the average, every 35 years, more than twice as fast as the rich.

Lifeboat ethics - Wikipedia