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Living on a Lifeboat - Essay Example

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Lifeboat ethics and human survival The article, ‘Living on a lifeboat’ by Garrett Hardin gives insight into the survival paradigms of human race and how the ethical and moral imperatives should be used within the broader constraints of inequitable distribution of resources across the globe…
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Living on a Lifeboat
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Living on a Lifeboat

According to Hardin, lifeboat ethics become hugely critical elements of human survival. Lifeboats have lifeboats have limited space and people in it can survive only if they do not exceed the number of persons that it can take up. Thus, people in the lifeboat must desist saving people from overcrowded boat or drowning people if they want to survive. The self-interest must prevail in the lifeboat ethics. The tragedy of the commons is perceived as hugely crucial factor that adversely impacts the interests of the people at large. The metaphor broadly refers to resources that are used by all people and as such, being ‘common’ nobody takes up the responsibility for it. Hardin says that natural resources like air and water are prime example of the metaphor. People use it indiscriminately but are not concerned as to how it should be saved for posterity as legacy for our children. Christian-Marxist moral imperatives cannot be applied across the board because world is crowded with imperfect human-beings and selfish people would tend to look for their own interests and which would ultimately lead to mutual ruin of the commons. This he has defined as tragedy of the commons. The system of common that affect everyone must be incorporated within the framework of government agendas and world organizations like United Nations, World Bank etc. The wealth and natural resources of the rich nations are increasingly being used to serve the needs of the poor through various agencies. Thus, they can become vital tools or platforms to promote sustainability of resources, with pre-requisite conditions like population control, plantation drive, reforms in agricultural area etc., while disbursing aids in the poor countries. Human survival is at stake because of extreme burden due to increasing population on the limited resources of earth. The rising population has led to fast urbanization which has caused destruction of natural resources in terms of deforestation, pollution of air and water, indiscriminate use of fossil energy etc. Thus, it is important that system of common must become more responsible towards their consumption of natural resources. Hardin has applied the theory, tragedy of the common, on the immigration policy of the rich nation like America to show how the good intentions of the government could adversely impact the interests and survival of the American citizens in the long run. He says that net inflow of immigrants in America is around 400,000 per year while illegal immigrants is nearly 600,000 which goes undetected because they offer cheap labor who can be easily exploited to make huge profits by the business. Natural annual population growth rate is 1.7%, out of which immigrants make up nearly 37%! He has also put forward very interesting concept of pajoristic system that creates unacknowledged commons that tend to worsen situations. It can be applied on the immigration policy of the government that continuously allows immigration. A time will come when the immigrants would be same or more than legitimate American citizens and the wealth from rich American will keep going to the poor immigrants till both become poor! Indeed, Hardin’s concern is genuine because after some time, the immigrant population will not only out number the legitimate American citizens but it would also lead to scarcity of resources, lower quality of life and no significant resources left for our future generation. Hardin’ ... Read More
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