Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Has China's One-Child Policy Worked?

The ethical debate of the one child policy in China has been going on since the policy was created about 30 years ago. In Michael Bristow’s article “Has China's one-child policy worked?” he describes the situation surrounding the problem and states that China is going to run into problems in the future if they continue with their one child policy.

With regards to demarcation in this instance it is clear that human lives are valued, but do the unborn children of the woman that are forced to abort count morally? Different ethical theories differ on this topic but most believe that they do count morally, thus agreeing with the author that the one child policy needs to be ended. But some believe that children and fetus’s do not count morally because they are not self aware, these people would not have a problem with abortions and contrast the author claim.

From a utilitarian’s point of view the way to get the most aggregate happiness is from having the one child policy, thus lowing overpopulation and leaving a healthier earth for the rest of us to live in. So although the overall happiness has increased the average happiness in China is considerably lower. The hedonistic happiness is lowered if you believe that fetus’s feel pain, and the happiness of the would be parents is lowed because they can’t have as many children as they would like. There is a considerable decrease in the preference happiness because about 400 million births have been prevented (Bristow 2007) with the policy and all these children would have had a potential to achieve their desires and goals. In Bristow’s argument he does not seem to address the issue from a utilitarian point of view because his conclusion differs from its solution.

Non consequentialist believe issues should be debated by considering the moral right and wrongs of a situation instead of about the positive or negative consequences like the utilitarian point of view. In this case it is against people’s rights to dictate how many children they can have. People should have the freedom to make their own decisions about their lifestyles and family even if it is aiding the planet and their country as a whole. This is not a given right but an implied one. Forced abortions can also be seen as morally unacceptable for many people and religions making this aspect a very controversial issue. So from a noncosequentialist point of view the one child policy should be rejected.

There are many different sides to problems surrounding overpopulation and the one child policy in China can be examined from the point of view of various theories. From a demarcation and consequentalists point of view it is the right thing to enforce and from a nonconsequentialist point of view it is the wrong choice. I believe that strictly from an ethics, not economical point of view, that the one child policy is necessary. The population in china was growing at an alarming rate and something needed to be done to decrease the birth rate even though it interferes with the individuals rights.

Bristow, M. (2007, September 20). Has China's one-child policy worked?. Retrieved from


  1. You have a very good set-up for your blog Liia, I like how you have a seperate paragraph for each of the different views. I agree that the author may have difficulty trying to prove his claim if others do not share the belief that fetuses have moral value. The rest of the analysis is very well thought out as well and seems to describe the different views thoroughly. Nice work Liia I enjoyed reading your blog.

  2. Good job on the blog Liia, you're points are well introduced in each body paragraph. You did a good job comparing the two points of view also you gave a brief description on each of the types of view introduced. I also like how you came up with ideas from other points of views such as the whole fetus not having any self awareness.