Response to Garrett Hardin's article "Lifeboat Ethics: The Case against Helping the Poor."

Essay by Prue750College, Undergraduate December 2006

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I find a few things wrong with Garrett Hardin's article "Lifeboat Ethics: The Case against Helping the Poor." The dominant argument I have against his article is that it is completely one sided. Hardin fails to even glance at the people, who do not fall under his ideas of what our society, nation, world is like. He has his own opinions, which he is 100% entitled to, but he poses these ideas in his article in such a way that he leaves no room for any alternative ways of thinking. It's as though he thinks his thoughts are the right ones, so there is no reason to allow others to have ideas of their own.

Here is how Hardin describes the "lifeboat" of our world: "If we divide the world crudely into rich nations and poor nations, two thirds of them are desperately poor, and only one third comparatively rich, with the United States the wealthiest of all.

Metaphorically each 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."

I must admit, that I do think Hardin does make a good point with his metaphor. There are, in a crude sense, two groups that we could divide the world into...the rich and the poor. And the metaphor of a lifeboat makes sense. There are those who are swimming in the water, either asking for help into the boat, or are asking for some sort of handout. Hardin goes on in the article to say that he thinks most of the "swimmers" fall under the category of asking for the handouts. This is the problem. This is...