PHIL 2380 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Intensive Animal Farming, John Stuart Mill, Ecological Footprint

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Utilitarianism (John Stuart Mill)
Always act in such a way as to maximize the resulting happiness
Principle of Utility- actions or behaviors are right in so far as they
promote happiness or pleasure, wrong as they tend to produce
unhappiness or pain.
Thomas Malthus
Argues that promoting welfare of poor is counterproductive
because it encourages population growth (raises fertility rates)
Malthus argued that human population would outgrow resources,
and therefore population growth has the greatest influence on the
environment. Resources are consequently the major limitation on
human population growth.
Malthus supported his theory with the following mathematical
assertions and arguments:
1. Human population growth is exponential because humans have
more children than are necessary to replace themselves (one for
each parent).
2. Resources can be increased only arithmetically at best, meaning
that population will always outpace the production of resources.
3. Since population will outgrow resources, the end result will be
scarcity and conflict over resources. War, disease, and famine are
therefore natural limits to population growth.
According to Malthus, therefore, helping the poor is
counterproductive because it allows the population to grow instead
of die from disease, starvation, or conflict. He suggested instead
that people (primarily women) exercise moral restraint.
Malthus’s views are recognized to contain a number of biases that
absolve political or economic structures, the wealthy, and men
from fault.
3 Claims:
1. War, famine, destitution, and disease are natural limits to
growth and act to keep population in check
2. Policies promoting the welfare of the poor are
counterproductive because they only encourage unnecessary
reproduction and resource waste
3. The key to averting periodic and inevitable resource crisis is a
moral code or self-restraint
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a more nuanced way of thinking about the relationship btw
populations and the environment
focuses on population impact
I = environmental impact as deterioration if the resource base
P= population
A =the level of consumption of pop, per capita (per person) gross
domestic product (how many goods each person consumes in the
T = Technology: set of methods available to pop to produce goods
needed to consume
Neomalthusians: present day adherents to a position, established
my mathus in growth outstrips limited natural resources and presents
the single greatest driver of environmental degradation and crisis
Population is biggest factor, because pop is most difficulty and
slowest to yield components of environmental deterioration
Kuznets Curve: Based on theory that income inequality will increase
during economic development and decrease after reaching state of
overall affluence, predicts that environmental impacts rise during
development and only fall after economy matures.
Carrying capacity vs. Ecological footprint
we can also subtly shift our thinking from IPAT model, which
focuses on how much impact a whole pop has on the environment
to thinking about carrying capacity of a geographic region (how
many people it can support)
or to thinking of each person as a chunk of resources > ecological
Carrying Capacity: theoretical limit of population that a system can
Ecological Population: Theoretical spatial extent of the earth’s surface
required to sustain an individual, group, system, organization; an
index of environmental impact
Population Increase
Malthusians and IPAT models both assume that as populations
increase things generally get worse off due to scarcity
-Pop growth leads to innovation, which leads to scarcity solutions
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