Philosophy in the Contemporary World

Volume 8, Issue 1, Spring 2001

Frank W. Derringh
Pages 21-30

Is Coerced Fertility Reduction to Preserve Nature Justifiable?

Human population growth must end, and the sooner the better, for both nature and a humanity that pursues boundlessly increasing affluence. Poisoning of organisms and massive extinctions result, exacerbated by population momentum. Infliction of pain and death largely for trivial reasons constitutes the ignoble dénouement of our history. Reducing human numbers would be only one fitting response to recognition of this situation. Reliance on voluntary socio-economic reforms, including even the empowennent of women, appears unlikely to lead to below-replacement-level fertility, since families on average still elect to have more than two children. Discussed are three reasons for thinking that coercive measures could help to engender a decreasing human population without negating preferable voluntary efforts to the same end. Hence some coercion to reduce fertility is justifiable.