Britain’s got Torment
In this day and age it is difficult enough to find those who agree with China’s One Child Policy let alone wish to replicate it in their own country, but Alex Renton seems more than prepared to join this potential ethical dilemma. In the article “Fewer British babies would mean a fairer planet” the author, Alex Renton, argues for the One Child Policy and claims that it would also be beneficial for Britain to implicate. Although Renton may believe such a strict policy is necessary, there are many ethical issues surrounding his argument. For instance, Renton must consider: who counts morally, if the policy would create the maximum amount of happiness for the majority of people, and if it is morally acceptable to deny any human being the right to have children. China’s One Child Policy raises many questions related to ethics and If Alex Renton is arguing for the policy there are many moral issues to be discussed.
The first ethical dimension to be explored will be the demarcation problem. In the article it seems like Renton does not believe that children count morally. When Renton states: “Could children perhaps become part of an adult's personal carbon allowance?”(Renton, 2009) it may cause some to believe that he is not concerned about the moral value of children, and may simply see them as property of their parents. Some people believe that children count morally, and the fact that Renton does not seem to agree with this causes ethical issues. Who counts morally is not the only issue in this article, the total happiness of the world must also be evaluated.
The consequentialist’s view is another aspect of ethics that shouldn’t be ignored. From a consequentialist’s viewpoint, such as utilitarianism, China’s One Child Policy is a very good way of lowering the world’s population. Although the policy causes some people in China to be upset because they cannot have as large of families as they want, it brings much more happiness to the rest of the world because the population of China is becoming less overpopulated. In the article, Alex Renton Claims: “Yet China now has 300-400 million fewer people. It was certainly the most successful governmental attempt to preserve the world's resources so far.”(Renton, 2009) This proves that the population is going down and therefore preserving the world’s resources which will increase happiness.
The last portion of ethics to investigate is the non-consequentialist’s view of the One Child Policy. A non-consequentialist would believe that every life is important, and that everyone’s happiness should be considered equally. In relation to the One Child Policy, a non-consequentialist would disagree with causing anyone to be unhappy by limiting the number of children they can have, even if it would cause many others to be happy. Therefore Renton’s statement: “After all, based on current emissions and life expectancy, one less British child would permit some 30 women in sub-Saharan Africa to have a baby and still leave the planet a cleaner place.”(Renton, 2009) would cause ethical issues because the would-be parents of the British child would be unhappy because they were not allowed to have the child.
In Conclusion, there are many different ethical dimensions in the article, “Fewer British babies would mean a fairer planet” by Alex Renton. The demarcation problem is one area of ethical issues that Renton must consider when arguing for China’s One Child Policy, but from a consequentialist’s viewpoint Renton is making the right decision already. However, for a non-consequentialist, the One Child Policy is not right, and limiting anyone’s family size is not justified by other people’s happiness. I believe that it is not right to force families to stop having children, and that instead there should be initiatives to have fewer children. It is instinctive for humans to want to have children and to take the most basic right of any creature away from someone is very extreme. I do believe that overpopulation is an important issue, but there are other ways of controlling population size that are less anti-instinctive.
Renton, Alex. “Fewer British babies would mean a fairer planet” The Observer October 25, 2009.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/oct/25/alex-renton-population-control-climate-change Accessed: November 2, 2009.