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Moral Journeys Philosophy - Essay Example

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In his article Hardin contrasts two metaphors: “spaceship metaphor” and “lifeboat metaphor”. The first metaphor represents the egalitarian model of distributive justice, which the author considers unreasonable: The spaceship metaphor can be dangerous when used by misguided idealists to justify suicidal policies for sharing our resources through uncontrolled immigration and foreign aid. (Hardin) The latter is a new concept introduced by Hardin. “Lifeboat ethics” advocates the state-centered approach to justice: First, we must recognize the limited capacity of any lifeboat. For example, a nation's land has a limited capacity to support a population and as the current energy crisis has shown us, in some ways we have already exceeded the carrying capacity of our land. (Hardin) From a utilitarian standpoint helping the poor puts a strain on economy of the rich countries, where certain groups get financial benefit from the charity programs. The author shows how the concept of the World Food Bank cannot possibly be implemented to achieve the goal: Some countries will deposit food in the world food bank, and others will withdraw it. There will be almost no overlap. As a result of such solutions to food shortage emergencies, the poor countries will not learn to mend their ways, and will suffer progressively greater emergencies as their populations grow (Hardin). In author’s view giving help to the poor is the result of misunderstood concept of justice. In this approach, the poor are seen as victims of circumstances: unfavorable geographical position, unequal distribution of resources on the planet, ineffective government, weather conditions, and emergency situations like natural disasters. The author stresses that the rich face similar difficulties, but learn to overcome them. The arguments lead the author to the controversial thesis: it is morally wrong to give food aid to poor countries. Hardin gives rational justification for ineffectiveness of food and technology solutions offered by rich nations. To emphasize his point he returns to the lifeboat metaphor and shows that in poor countries population grows faster and in they would eventually overturn their own boats and the ones belonging to the rich (Hardin). If the moral concept of guilt comes into play the author, introduces the metaphor of a lifeboat where a sympathetic passenger feels guilty for being in the boast while many people have to be in the water. He gives his seat to the one swimming in the sea, but the person who takes the place feels no guilt for having what other don’t have. The author points out that people who get such help are likely to take it for granted and feel entitled to it in future. Sympathy would bring about the situation of “elimination of that sort of conscience from the lifeboat” (Hardin). In Hardin’s view, the wish to help the poor is likely to result in elimination of concepts of sympathy and guilt. In utilitarian perspective helping poor would do good neither the helping part, nor the needy part. The rich nation would stretch its resources beyond limit to help the ever-growing population of poor countries. Poor countries would never learn to support themselves and learn to cope with their problems independently. The help would spur population growth in the poor countries, and it would create further need. Giving help is also viewed as morally wrong, ...Show more


Moral Journeys Nowadays people turn to ethics to reflect on what is important to them. Modern world faces new challenges and problems, most them are connected with the rapidly growing gap between poor and rich countries. The paper analyses and compares Peter Singer's and Garrett Hardin's positions on helping the poor…
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Moral Journeys Philosophy Essay essay example
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