Rhetorical Analysis Of Lifeboat Ethics By Garrett Hardin

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Charity is voluntary, not mandatory. Therefore, in his essay “Lifeboat Ethics: The Case against Helping the Poor,” Garrett Hardin argues that prosperous individuals and nations should not be responsible for providing assistance to those living below the poverty line. Individuals and nations should not feel morally obligated to do anything against their will. Instead, he views providing financial aid to the less unfortunate as an immoral act because of the unintended consequences that follow it. No good will come out of this because it does not raise individuals and nations above the poverty line, nor does it establish economic stability. If anything, the issue worsens since aid is only capable of delivering temporary abatement. Thus, the …show more content…

With this, he aims to sway his audience towards a different perspective, one that pushes the audience to resist against humanitarian impulses. He paints a picture of a lifeboat that seats fifty passengers and has a total capacity of sixty, allowing enough room to accommodate to ten more (para 6). Those in the lifeboat represent the rich, while those swimming outside represent the poor. However, the passengers on the boat are faced with the decision to admit only ten others when they are surrounded by one hundred people begging to get in. They cannot narrow down the pool to just ten people when everyone’s needs are the same, nor can they take in every pleading individual. Hardin brings this complication to light in order to strike a chord in those who find themselves guilty of not assisting the poor. He forces the readers to place themselves in a situation where they must put aside their sympathy and place themselves first if they want to survive. Those who object can get out and yield their spot to others, should they feel guilty (para 9). By suggesting this solution, Hardin eliminates all guilt-ridden consciousness from the lifeboat as the metaphor poses a critical life or death situation for those on board. Ultimately, Harden effectively conveys his reasoning as to why the haves should not tend to the have nots by utilizing a metaphor that prompts the readers to reevaluate the consequences associated with assisting …show more content…

For instance, when he explains the lifeboat metaphor and how only ten more individuals swimming outside can be admitted he asks the readers, “But which 10 do we let in? How do we choose? Do we pick the best 10, ‘first come, first served’?” (para 7). This string of questions serves to overwhelm the reader for the purpose of provoking a rational argument. Hardin wants his audience to see his rationale, which forms the basis of his argument behind not helping the poor. It is impossible for the reader to draw the line as well as pick and choose between who he or she wants to save or let drown. This goes back to reinforce Hardin’s argument because affluent nations cannot simply select one impoverished nation they want to support and ignore all over nations facing the same economic instability. Instead, they must provide consistent aid to every nation; however, doing so is financially taxing, taking a toll on their own economic

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