Lifeboat Ethics Essay

Lifeboat Ethics Essay-64
A terrible hour or so later he lost control and crashed the plane into the ocean. Or someone suggests that, in the interests of fairness, you draw lots to decide who will live and who will die. The first powerful person to draw a bad lot refuses to accept the result. On the lifeboat, it turns out, are an 88-year-old man, someone who broke both legs in the crash, an emotional basket-case, and a 95-pound woman with zero fat reserves — along with a healthy 20-year old male, a woman in the military Special Forces, a middle-aged man who is twenty pounds overweight, and several others.

A terrible hour or so later he lost control and crashed the plane into the ocean. Or someone suggests that, in the interests of fairness, you draw lots to decide who will live and who will die. The first powerful person to draw a bad lot refuses to accept the result. On the lifeboat, it turns out, are an 88-year-old man, someone who broke both legs in the crash, an emotional basket-case, and a 95-pound woman with zero fat reserves — along with a healthy 20-year old male, a woman in the military Special Forces, a middle-aged man who is twenty pounds overweight, and several others.You and some others survived and managed to climb into an inflatable lifeboat. There are ten of you in a boat designed for four people, with enough food and water for two days. You might assess the situation ruthlessly, point to the water and shout When one of your companions foolishly looks to see — you shove him overboard. Of course the rest see what’s up and begin trying to shove each other overboard. Someone then suggests that, in the interests of equality, everyone share the food and water. A big wave swamps the boat carrying ten people but designed for four; everyone dies. In the ensuing fight to shove him overboard, the strongest prevail and the weakest lose. So as a group you identify the four strongest and, unfortunately, sacrifice the six weakest. But note that they all seem to be converging on a common result: The lifeboat is a strong-versus-weak situation, and the strong will sacrifice the weak. The point of using lifeboats is to help us think through the big questions of life and death by giving us a simplified model of the factors that we must attend to.

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His vision of a correct salvation is "tough love" (ref., 1) that would save the planet, or better called "spaceship" than lifeboat.

Hardin suggests several ways to overcome the issues.

Nobody knows where you are, you don’t know where you are, and your phones were lost or destroyed in the crash. When the fighting ends, the four quickest and strongest have prevailed and the six slowest or weakest become shark food. Or when one person gets too hungry or thirsty, she defects and shoves someone overboard. The lifeboat’s key factors are economic: the lifeboat’s is the dominant reality.

If the lifeboat is used as a microcosm from which we can draw grand conclusions, as many ethicists and other experts want to, then the claims are, first, that we live in a world of scarce resources and, second, that our public policy decisions should be based on that fact.

Such charity, he argued, undercuts the survival chances of the strong and means only that more of the poor will survive and reproduce, thus making the problem worse in the next generation.

But arguing against Hardin is the equally-widely-cited line from Mahatma Gandhi: Those of us with more are depriving those with less, so we resource-rich should give up for the sake of the resource-poor.

He suggests we better show the minor countries the way to survive, and not just safe their lives.

As an ancient Chinese proverb goes: "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach him how to fish and he will eat for the rest of his days." The idea is to take care of yourself and let others learn the same.

And we should not forget that very realistic lifeboat scenario — the sinking of In accordance with Victorian and Edwardian ethics, stronger men had a noble obligation to protect and, if necessary, sacrifice for their weaker women and offspring.

So which is the more moral policy: Should we sacrifice the weak for the strong — or the strong for the weak?

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