Garrett Hardin

Garrett Hardin, “Carrying Capacity as an Ethical Concept,” in Larry May and others, Applied Ethics: A Multicultural Approach, Prentice Hall, 2011, 5th ed., pp. 206-212.


The main thesis of Garrett Hardin’s argument is that rich nations should not help poor nations, even in emergency situations. He is concerned that help from rich nations to poor nations will have disastrous effects.

In an effort to apply classic libertarian principles to the international arena, Hardin contends that help from rich nations will reinforce poor planning by poor countries and provide non-sustainable supplies of food. Food supplied from outside the poor countries will lead to increased population.

Poor planning, Hardin holds, will result in famine and disease. Increased population and widespread famine and disease, in turn, will lead to food shortages for everyone–wealthy as well as poor nations. Providing food for poor countries will thus result in greater harm than good.

Hardin’s classic libertarian position places him in the category of a strict deontologist.

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