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 Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Introduction
 General ethical issues
 The development of ethical...
 The ethical actors
 Some specific issues
 Notes














Group Title: Occasional paper of the Population Council
Title: Ethics and population limitation
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Full Citation
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00088772/00001
 Material Information
Title: Ethics and population limitation
Series Title: Occasional paper of the Population Council
Physical Description: 45 p. : ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Callahan, Daniel, 1930-
Publisher: Population Council distributed by Key Book Service, Bridgeport, Conn.
Place of Publication: New York
Publication Date: 1971
 Subjects
Subject: Birth control   ( lcsh )
Régulation des naissances   ( rvm )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Statement of Responsibility: by Daniel Callahan.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00088772
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 00152099
lccn - 78155736
isbn - 0878340025

Table of Contents
    Cover
        Cover
    Title Page
        Title Page 1
        Title Page 2
    Table of Contents
        Table of Contents 1
        Table of Contents 2
    Introduction
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
    General ethical issues
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
    The development of ethical criteria
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
    The ethical actors
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
    Some specific issues
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
    Notes
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
Full Text









Ethics and
Population
Limitation

Daniel Callahan






I An Occasional Paper of
The Population Council
















The Population Council
245 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10017


Distributed for The Population Council by
Key Book Service, Inc., 425 Asylum Street,
Bridgeport, Connecticut 06610.

Standard Book Number: 0-87834-002-5
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 78-155736
Copyright 1971 by The Population Council. All rights
reserved.

Printed in the United States of America by Wm. F. Fell Company,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


The Population Council is a foundation established
in 1952 for scientific training and study in population
matters. It endeavors to advance knowledge in the
broad field of population by fostering research, train-
ing, and technical consultation and assistance in the
social and biomedical sciences.
John D. Rockefeller 3rd
Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Bernard Berelson, President














Contents



GENERAL ETHICAL ISSUES 7
THE DEVELOPMENT OF ETHICAL CRITERIA 10
Deontological Theories 11
1. Act-deontological Theories
2. Rule-deontological Theories
Teleological Theories 12
1. Act-utilitarianism
2. Rule-utilitarianism

THE ETHICAL ACTORS 16
Individuals (Persons, Couples, Families) 16
1. The Right of Control
2. The Right to a Choice of Method
3. The Right to the Fullest Possible Knowledge
Governments 17
Organizations 20
Recapitulation 22
1. General Moral Rules
2. Criteria for Ethical Decision-Making
3. Rank Order of Preference

SOME SPECIFIC ISSUES 23
Governments 23
Some Formal Criteria and a Ranking of Preference 33
Organizations 36
Freedom and Risk-Taking 40


NOTES




















Daniel Callahan is Director of the Institute of Society,
Ethics and the Life Sciences at Hastings-on-Hudson, New
York. This paper was written while Dr. Callahan served as a
Staff Associate at The Population Council (1969-70). He is
also the author of Abortion: Law, Choice and Morality (The
Macmillan Company, 1970).















THROUGHOUT its history, the human species has been heavily
preoccupied with the conquest of nature and the control of
death. Human beings struggled to survive, as individuals,
families, tribes, communities and nations. Procreation was
an essential part of survival. Food could not be grown, fam-
ilies sustained, individuals supported and industry developed
unless there was an unceasing supply of new human beings.
The historical result was the assignment of a high value to
fertility. It has been thought good to have children: good
for the children themselves, for the parents, for the society
and for the species. While it may always have been granted
that extenuating circumstances could intervene to create
temporary contraindications to child-bearing, the value prem-
ise endured intact. There remained a presumptive right of
individual procreation, a right thought to sustain the high
valuation assigned to the outcome: more human beings.
That the premise may now have to be changed, the values
shifted, can only seem confounding. As Erik Erikson has
urged, it is a risky venture to play with the "fire of creation,"
especially when the playing has implications for almost every
aspect of individual and collective life.1 The reasons for doing
so would have to be grave. Yet the hazards of excessive popu-
lation growth present such reasons, posing critical dangers to
the future of the species, the eco-system, individual liberty
and welfare, and the structure of social life. These hazards
are serious enough to warrant a re-examination and ulti-
mately a revision of the traditional value assigned to unre-
stricted procreation and increase in population size.
The main question is the way the revision is to proceed.
If the old premise-the unlimited right of and need for






ETHICS AND POPULATION LIMITATION


procreation-is to be rejected or amended, what alternative
premises are available? By what morally legitimate social and
political processes, and in the light of what values, are the
possible alternatives to be evaluated and action taken? These
are ethical questions, bearing on what is taken to constitute
the good life, the range and source of human rights and
obligations, the requirements of human justice and welfare.
If the ethical problems of population limitation could be
reduced to one overriding issue, matters would be simplified.
They cannot. Procreation is so fundamental a human activity,
so wide-ranging in its personal and social impact, that its
control poses a wide range of ethical issues. My aim here is
primarily to see what some of the different ethical issues are,
how an approach to them might be structured, and to propose
some solutions.
In a field so ill-defined as "ethics and population limita-
tion," very little by way of common agreement can be taken
for granted. One needs to start at the beginning. Some basic
assertions can be suggested as "the beginning":
Facts and values. There would be no concern about the
ethical issues of population limitation if there did not exist
evidence that excessive population growth jeopardizes present
and future welfare. Yet the way the evidence is evaluated
will be the result of the values and interests brought to bear
on the data. Every definition of the "population problem,"
or of "excessive population growth" will be value-laden,
expressive of the ethical orientations of those who do the
defining. While everyone might agree that widespread starva-
tion and malnutrition are bad, not everyone will agree that
crowding, widespread urbanization, and a loss of primitive
forest areas are equally bad. Human beings differ in their
assessment of relative goods and evils. To say that "excessive
population growth is bad" is to imply that some other state of
population growth would be good or better, e.g., an "optimum
level of population." But as the demographic discussion of
an "optimum" has made clear, so many variables come into






ETHICS AND POPULATION LIMITATION


play that it may be possible to do no more than specify a
direction: "the desirability of a lower rate of growth."2
If the way the population problem is defined will reflect
value orientations, these same definitions will have direct
implications for the way the ethical issues are posed. An
apocalyptic reading of the demographic data and projections
can, not surprisingly, lead to coercive proposals. Desperate
problems are seen to require desperate and otherwise dis-
tasteful solutions.3 Moreover, how the problem is defined,
and how the different values perceived to be at stake are
weighted, will have direct implications for the priority given
to population problems in relationship to other social prob-
lems. People might well agree that population is a serious
issue, but they might (and often do) say that other issues are
comparatively more serious.4 If a low priority is given to
population problems, this is likely to affect the perception of
the ethical issues at stake.
Why ethical questions arise. Excessive population growth
poses ethical questions because it threatens existing or de-
sired human values and goods, and because all or some of the
possible solutions to the problem have the potential for pos-
ing difficult ethical dilemmas. Choices are required among a
variety of values. Excessive population growth poses threats
when physical security and health are endangered, political
conflicts engendered, economic development hindered, the
environment polluted, non-renewable resources rapidly dis-
sipated and psychologically harmful crowding and forced
migration intensified-to mention only a few of the possi-
bilities. Any one of these factors, or a combination of them,
has the potential to undermine human life. The decision to
act or not to act in the face of the threats is an ethical decision.
It is a way of affirming where the human good lies and the
kinds of obligations individuals and societies have toward
themselves and others. A choice in favor of action will, how-
ever, mean the weighing of different options, and most of the
available options pose ethical dilemmas.






ETHICS AND POPULATION LIMITATION


Ethics and politics. The political context of ethical deci-
sions in the population area will often be that of pluralistic
societies, where a number of group interests, loyalties and
values compete for attention and power. A major difficulty
will be that of reconciling different kinds of ethical judgments
and value systems. Almost inevitably, then, the ethics of
population limitation must encompass the ethics of politics
and government as well.
Ends, means and criteria. In making ethical choices, a de-
cision will be needed on (a) the human goods and values
which need serving or promoting-the ends; (b) the range of
methods and actions consistent and coherent with those ends
-the means; and (c) the procedure and rationale to be used
in trying to decide both upon ends and means and upon their
relationship in specific situations-the ethical criteria for
decision-making. A failure to determine the ends, both ulti-
mate and proximate, can make it difficult or impossible to
choose the appropriate means. A failure to determine the
range of possible means can make it difficult to serve the
ends. A failure to specify or articulate the ethical criteria for
decision-making can lead to capricious or self-serving choices,
as well as placing obstacles in the way of a rational resolution
of ethical conflicts.
The last assertion touches directly upon the possibilities of
ethical analysis. Among them are these: a heightened sensi-
tivity to the value assumptions latent in our thinking and
acting; a greater awareness of the implications for good or
evil of the possible lines of conduct open to us; some greater
capacity for introducing rigor into our ethical thinking; an
expanded talent for devising criteria by which to act. There
are also limitations. Ethics has no single methodology; schools
and methodologies abound. The history of ethics has been
marked by basic disputes about the nature and function of
ethics.
There has been, however, general agreement on a few key
points. "Traditionally," P. H. Nowell-Smith has remarked,






ETHICS AND POPULATION LIMITATION


"moral philosophy has always been regarded as a practical
science, a 'science' because it was a systematic inquiry the
goal of which was knowledge, and 'practical' because the goal
was practical knowledge, knowledge of what to do rather
than knowledge of what is the case."5 Yet even though ethics
has been directed toward practice and action, its students have
agreed that it cannot supply detailed rules about how to act
in concrete cases, which can combine a great range of vari-
ables; that is why it is often called an art. "A philosopher," to
quote Nowell-Smith again, "is not a parish priest or Universal
Aunt or Citizens' Advice Bureau."6
In the instance of ethics and population limitation, both
the possibilities and the limitations of ethics become apparent.
In the face of a variety of proposals to solve the population
problem, some of them highly coercive, a sensitivity to the
ethical issues and some greater rigor in dealing with them is
imperative. The most fundamental matters of human life and
welfare are at stake. Yet because of the complexity of the
problem, including its variability from one nation or geo-
graphical region to the next, few hard and fast rules can be
laid down about what to do in such and such a place at such
and such a time.
Still, since some choices must be made (and not to choose
it to make a choice as well), the practical ethical task will be
that of deciding upon the available options. While this paper
will focus on some of the proposed options to reduce birth-
rates, they are not the only ones possible. Ralph Potter has
discussed some others: "It has generally been assumed that
policy must be primarily, if not exclusively, concerned with
bringing about a decline in the rate of population increase
through a reduction in the birth rate. But there are other
choices. It is generally considered desirable but impossible to
increase resources at a sufficient pace and through an adequate
duration to preserve the present level of living for all within
an expanding population. It is generally considered possible
but undesirable to omit the requirement that all persons have






ETHICS AND POPULATION LIMITATION


access to that which is necessary for a good life. There is still
the option of redefining what is to be considered necessary
for a good life or of foregoing some things necessary for a
good life in order to obtain an equitable distribution in a
society that preserves the autonomy of parents to determine
the size of their families."7
A useful way of posing the issue practically is to envision
the ethical options ranked on a preferential scale, from the
most desirable to the least desirable. For working purposes, I
will adopt as my own the formulation of Kenneth E. Boul-
ding: "A moral, or ethical proposition, is a statement about
a rank order of preferences among alternatives, which is in-
tended to apply to more than one person."s Ethics enters at
that point where the preferences are put forward as having a
value which transcends individual tastes or inclinations. Im-
plicitly or explicitly, a decision among alternatives becomes
an ethical one when it is claimed that one or another alterna-
tive ought to be chosen, not just by me but by others as well.
That is where it differs from tastes or personal likings which,
by definition, imply non-obligatory preferences applicable to
no more than one person (even if the tastes are shared). The
"ought" of ethical propositions can be expressed in the lan-
guage of "duties," "obligations," or "responsibilities," each of
which connotes a level of preferences different from that of
personal inclination.
In the face of alternative proposals to reduce population
growth, how is a "rank order of preferences" to be determined
and obligations sorted out? The answer to this question re-
quires a specification of possible ends, means, and criteria for
decision-making; for "preferences," as used here, will refer
to all three of these ethical ingredients. It is possible, that is,
to make a choice among different ends, different means and
different criteria, putting each in some kind of rank order. A
first step in the problem of ranking preferences is to delineate
some of the major and general ethical issues posed by excessive
population growth and the alternative possibilities available






GENERAL ETHICAL ISSUES


to meet it. The second step will be to note some current ethical
theories which can be brought to bear in the development
of criteria for making decisions and to make a choice among
them. The third step will be to sketch the rights of different
ethical actors, and their attendant obligations, in population-
related ethical decisions. The fourth step will be to list some
specific issues of population limitation, attempting to show
how the foregoing ethical analysis provides a means of reso-
lution.

GENERAL ETHICAL ISSUES

I will assume at the outset that there is a problem of ex-
cessive population growth, serious for the world as a whole
(with a 2% annual growth rate), grave for many developing
nations (where the growth rate approaches 3% per annum),
and possibly harmful for the developed nations as well (with
an average 1% growth rate). The threats posed by excessive
population growth are numerous: economic, environmental,
agricultural, political and socio-psychological. There is con-
siderable agreement that something must be done to meet
these threats. For the purpose of ethical analysis, the first
question to be asked is: in trying to meet these threats, what
human ends are we seeking to serve? Two kinds of human
ends can be distinguished: proximate and ultimate.
Among the important proximate ends being sought in at-
tempts to reduce birthrates are (in the developing countries):
a raising of literacy rates, a reduction in dependency ratios,
the elimination of starvation and malnutrition, more rapid
economic development, an improvement in health and wel-
fare services; and (in the developed countries): a maintenance
or improvement of the quality of life, the protection of non-
renewable resources, the control of environmental pollution.
For most purposes, it will be sufficient to cite goals of that
sort. But it is critical for ethical purposes to consider not just
proximate but ultimate ends as well. For it is legitimate to






ETHICS AND POPULATION LIMITATION


ask, of the specified proximate ends, what ultimate human
ends they are meant to serve. Why is it important to raise
literacy rates? Why is it necessary to protect non-renewable
resources? Why ought the elimination of starvation and mal-
nutrition be sought? For the most part, these are questions
which need not be asked or require no elaborate answer. The
ethical importance of such questions is that they force us to
confront the goals of human life. Unless they are confronted
at some point, ethics cannot start or finish.
Philosophically, the problem can be put as one of deter-
mining what final values should be pursued. The reason,
presumably, that a reduction in illiteracy rates is sought is
that it is thought valuable for human beings to possess the
means of achieving knowledge. The elimination of starvation
and malnutrition is sought because of a self-evident perception
that human beings must eat to survive. The preservation of
non-renewable resources is necessary in order that human life
can continue through future generations. There is little
argument about the validity of these propositions because
they all presuppose some ultimate human values: knowledge,
life, species survival, for instance. Historically, philosophers
have attempted to specify what, in the name of "the good,"
human beings essentially seek. What do they, in the end,
finally value? The historical list of values is long: life, pleas-
ure, happiness, knowledge, freedom, justice and self-expres-
sion, among others.
This is not the place to enter into a discussion of all these
values and the philosophical history of attempts to specify
and rank them. Suffice it to say that three values have had a
predominant role, at least in the West: freedom, justice and
security/survival. Most pertinently, many of the major ethical
dilemmas posed by the need for population limitation can be
reduced to that of choosing among, ranking and interpreting
these three values. Freedom is a prized value because it is a
condition for self-determination and the achievement of
knowledge. Justice, particularly distributive justice, is prized







GENERAL ETHICAL ISSUES


because it entails equality of treatment and opportunity and
an equitable access to those resources and opportunities nec-
essary for human development. Security/survival is prized
because it constitutes a fundamental ground for all human
activities.
Excessive population growth poses ethical dilemmas because
it forces us to weight and rank these values in trying to find
solutions. How much procreative freedom, if any, should be
given up in order to insure the security/survival of a nation
or a community? How much security/survival can be risked
in order to promote distributive justice? How much procre-
ative freedom can be tolerated if it jeopardizes distributive
justice?
Ethical dilemmas might be minimized if there was a fixed
agreement on the way the three values ought to be ranked.
One could say that freedom is so supreme a value that both
justice and security/survival should be sacrificed to maintain
it. But there are inherent difficulties in taking such a position.
It is easily possible to imagine situations where a failure to
give due weight to the other values could result in an under-
mining of the possibility of freedom itself. If people cannot
survive at the physical level, it becomes impossible for them
to exercise freedom of choice, procreative or otherwise. If the
freedom of some is unjustly achieved at the expense of the
freedom of others, then the overall benefits of freedom are
not maximized. Analogously, if security/survival is given the
place of supremacy, situations could arise where this value
was used to justify the suppression of freedom or the perpetu-
ation of social injustice. In that case, those suppressed might
well ask: why live if one cannot have freedom and justice?
For all these reasons, it is difficult and perhaps unwise to
specify a fixed and abstract rank order of preferences among
the three values. In some circumstances, each can enter a
valid claim against the others. In the end, at the level of
abstractions, one is forced to say that all three values are
critically important; none can be permanently set aside or







ETHICS AND POPULATION LIMITATION


minimized. Ethical dilemmas arise because it is often the case
that a perfect balance cannot be obtained among them; the
price of honoring one is to detract from a full realization of
the others.
As I will argue shortly, however, the contemporary rank
order of preference in the West, and much of the rest of the
world, is to give freedom of choice in family planning the
place of primacy. Yet this primacy has been challenged by one
group on the grounds that it cannot be relied upon to insure
the kind of population control necessary to insure security/
survival.9 And its primacy has been challenged by other
groups on the grounds that it diverts attention away from the
need for social justice.10 In the case of both challenges, then,
the primacy of freedom is called into question in the name
of other values, with different candidates for the place of
primacy being put forward.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF ETHICAL CRITERIA

In approaching the task of ranking an order of preference
among values in concrete situations, it is necessary to develop
ethical criteria. They can then be used in judging the validity
of different possible choices. If one asks, of different ethical
choices, what is the right thing to do, or what am I obliged
to do, no meaningful answer is possible unless there has been
a consideration of what might count as a satisfactory answer.
What are the ethical criteria for judging among many pos-
sible answers?
I propose to analyze that last question in terms of norma-
tive ethics, particularly that aspect of it which deals with
normative theory of obligation. William K. Frankena has
provided a representative statement concerning the latter:

The ultimate concern of the normative theory of obligation is to
guide us in the making of decisions and judgments about actions in
particular situations. A main concern, of course, is to guide us in







THE DEVELOPMENT OF ETHICAL CRITERIA


our capacity as agents trying to decide what we should do in this
case and that. But we want to know more than just what we should
do in situations before us. We also wish to make judgments about
what others should do ... We are not just agents in morality; we
are also spectators, advisers, instructors, judges and critics. Still, in
all of these capacities our primary question is this: how may or
should we decide to determine what is morally right for a certain
agent (oneself or another, possibly a group or a whole society) to do,
or what he morally ought to do, in a certain situation?11
Normative theories of obligation are usually divided into
two classes, teleological and deontological. Teleological the-
ories hold, in general, that the standard of ethical judgment
is the relative balance of good over evil produced: "thus, an
act is right if and only if it or the rule under which it falls
produces, or will probably produce, or is intended to produce
at least as great a balance of good over evil as any available
alternative; an act is wrong if and only if it does not do so."12
Deontological theories, by contrast, hold that other factors
than the consequences of acts or rules may make them right
or obligatory, e.g., their intrinsic validity quite apart from
their consequences: "A deontologist contends that it is pos-
sible for an action or rule of action to be morally right or
obligatory even if it does not promote the greatest possible
balance of good over evil for self, society, or universe. It may
be right or obligatory simply because of some other fact about
it or because of its own nature."'1
Both deontological and teleological theories have taken
different forms (and have been subject to different criticisms).

DEONTOLOGICAL THEORIES
1. Act-deontological theories.
Act-deontologists (E. F. Carritt, H. A. Prichard) maintain
that all judgments of obligation ought to be purely particular:
in this situation I should do such and such. They affirm that
each situation must be judged separately, without recourse
to any rules or any attempt to achieve a balance of good over
evil. They have been criticized on the grounds that they offer








ETHICS AND POPULATION LIMITATION


no standards at all for determining right and wrong in par-
ticular cases.

2. Rule-deontological theories.
Rule-deontologists (Ross, Kant) hold that the standard of
ethical obligation consists of rules, either concrete or abstract.
They contend that the rules are fundamental, neither induc-
tions from nor to be judged by particular cases. On the con-
trary, particular cases are to be judged in terms of the rules.
The principal objection to these theories lies in the difficulty
of framing rules which admit of no exceptions and which will
not result in conflict among the rules.

TELEOLOGICAL THEORIES
Teleological theories can, in the first place, be distinguished
in terms of the good that one is obliged to promote. Ethical
egoism (Epicurus, Hobbes, Nietzsche) contends that the perti-
nent good to be promoted is that of the ethical actor himself
-his personal greatest good. Ethical universalism, or utilitari-
anism (Bentham, Mill) holds that the ultimate standard is
the promotion of the greatest general good. Ethical egoism is
open to the objection, among others, that it cannot be to the
advantage of an individual that every other individual should
single-mindedly pursue his own advantage. Utilitarianism
(ethical universalism) has had a much larger following in the
history of ethics. In Frankena's formulation, "utilitarianism"
can be defined as the view "which says the sole ultimate
standard of right, wrong, and obligation is the principle of
utility or beneficence, which says quite strictly that the moral
end to be sought in all we do is the greatest possible balance of
good over evil (or the least possible balance of evil over
good)."14 Two views of utilitarianism can be distinguished.

1. Act-utilitarianism.
Act-utilitarians hold that, in attempting to determine what
is obligatory, one appeals directly to the principle of utility,







THE DEVELOPMENT OF ETHICAL CRITERIA


trying to discover which of the available actions is likely to
result in the greatest general balance of good over evil. Pressed
to its extreme, this view would not allow us to make use of
any rules or to generalize from past experience. It has been
criticized on the grounds of its impracticality (for some rules
seem necessary).

2. Rule-utilitarianism.
In common with rule-deontologists, rule-utilitarians grant
a central place to moral rules. They contend that in most if
not all situations we are to determine what we ought to do
by recourse to a rule (e.g., tell the truth) instead of by de-
termining which particular action will have the best conse-
quences. However, in contrast with rule-deontologism, it
stipulates that our rules should be determined by inquiring
which rules will promote the greatest general good: "This
means that for the rule utilitarian it may be right to obey
a rule like telling the truth simply because it is so useful to
have the rule, even when, in the particular case in question,
telling the truth does not lead to the best consequences."15
There are at least two major difficulties with rule-utilitari-
anism. One has to do with the interpretation of the principle
of utility. What is to count as the "general good"? The other
concerns the problem of justice. A rule may, for instance,
maximize the general amount of good in the world and yet
result in a mal-distribution of the good; that is, it might be
unjust in its effects, benefiting most but not all. The problem
is that the principle of utility tells us to maximize the good
but provides no directions in choosing how to distribute the
good; an independent principle of justice is needed for that
purpose. Accordingly, a mixed deontological theory has been
proposed: "there are at least two basic and independent
principles of morality, that of beneficence or utility which
tells us to maximize the total amount of good in the world
and that of justice This theory instructs us to deter-
mine what is right or wrong in particular situations, normally







ETHICS AND POPULATION LIMITATION


at least, by consulting rules such as we usually associate with
morality; but it goes on to say that the way to tell what rules
we should live by is to see which rules best fulfill the joint
requirements of utility and justice."16 A similar theory has
been proposed by Henry D. Aiken, only his version adds
liberty as independent principle. The principle of utility then
comes to function not as a test of the independent principles
-for neither justice nor liberty can or ought to be justified
on utilitarian grounds-but, instead, "is at best to be viewed
as a principle for the making of exceptions to other principles
that are themselves independently binding."17
For the purposes of this paper, I will work with the last-
mentioned position, a mixed deontological theory, adapting
it somewhat to my own purposes. As "independent principles"
I will count the three mentioned earlier: freedom (liberty),
justice, security/survival. Each, I believe, is best justified in
its own terms, not in terms of its utility; that is, each has a
value independent of its utility. Yet since ethical dilemmas
arise because of real or apparent conflicts between and among
these principles, the principle of utility can be used in those
situations where exceptions to one or another principles ap-
pear in order. Thus when conflicts arise, it is legitimate to
turn to the utilitarian principle as a standard for testing pro-
posed resolutions. In a situation posing a conflict between
the principle of procreative freedom and the principle of
security/survival, for instance, one can turn to the principle
of utility to see whether the demands of security/survival
would warrant taking exception to the otherwise valid prin-
ciple of freedom. Would a limitation of freedom serve to
increase the balance of good over evil, in accordance with the
principle of utility?
The above-specified mixed deontological theory will, then,
serve as my general ethical criteria for deciding among spe-
cific population limitation proposals. Put formally, it can be
understood to mean that one is obliged to act in such a way
that the fundamental values of freedom, justice and security/







THE DEVELOPMENT OF ETHICAL CRITERIA


survival are to be respected and, in case of conflict, that one
or more of these values can be limited if and only if it can
be shown that such a course will serve to increase the balance
of good over evil. Put in the terminology employed by
Boulding: rank order of preference among alternatives should
go to those which, consistent with the intrinsic values of free-
dom, justice and security/survival, increase the balance of
good over evil. In situations of conflict among the principles,
those alternatives are to be preferred which minimize the
limitations on the three values.
A further specification is necessary. I argued earlier that it
is difficult and perhaps unwise to attempt a fixed and abstract
ranking of the values of freedom, justice, and security/sur-
vival. However, in the area of family planning and population
limitation a number of national and international declara-
tions have served to give a primacy of place to individual
freedom. The Declaration of the 1968 United Nations Inter-
national Conference on Human Rights is representative:
"... couples have a basic human right to decide freely and
responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and
a right to adequate education and information in this re-
spect."18 While this primacy has been challenged,19 it retains
its position, serving as the ethical foundation of both domestic
and foreign family planning and population policies. Accord-
ingly, it will be argued here (a) that the burden of proof on
proposals to limit freedom of choice (whether on the grounds
of justice or security/survival) rests with those who make the
proposals, but that (b) this burden can, under specified con-
ditions, be discharged if it can be shown that a limitation of
freedom of choice in the name of justice or security/survival
would tend to increase the general balance of good over evil.
This is only to say that while the present international "rank
order of preference" gives individual freedom the primary
place, it is possible to imagine circumstances which would
require a revision of the ranking.







ETHICS AND POPULATION LIMITATION


THE ETHICAL ACTORS

One way of approaching the normative issues of ranking
preferences in population limitation programs and proposals
is by locating the key ethical actors, those who can be said to
have obligations. Three groups of actors can be identified:
individuals (persons, couples, families), the officers and agents
of voluntary (private-external) organizations, and responsible
government officials. What are the ethical obligations of each
of the actors? What is the right or correct course of conduct
for them? I will approach these questions by first trying to
define some general rights and obligations for each set of
actors and then, in the final section of the paper, by offering
some suggested resolutions of a number of specific issues.

INDIVIDUALS (PERSONS, COUPLES, FAMILIES)
We begin with individuals because it has already been con-
tended that, in the ranking of values, individual freedom of
choice has been accorded an international primacy; and it is
individuals who procreate. What are the rights and obligations
of individuals with regard to procreation?
Individuals have the right voluntarily to control their own
fertility in accordance with their personal preferences and
convictions (whatever their source)." This right logically
extends to a choice of methods to achieve the desired control
and the right to the fullest possible knowledge of available
methods and their consequences (medical, social, economic
and demographic, among others):
The right of control: this right implies non-interference
and non-coercion on the part of others (individuals, organi-
zations and governments); it also entails the obligation of
others to respect, protect and advance this right.
The right to a choice of methods: this right implies the
availability of a range of methods; it entails the obligation of







THE ETHICAL ACTORS


others (particularly governments) to take those steps necessary
to provide the required range of methods.
The right to the fullest possible knowledge: this right
implies an access to knowledge, in order that the choices made
will reflect an awareness of options and of the consequences
of the options; it entails an obligation on the part of others to
share the knowledge they possess fully and truthfully, not only
when such knowledge is requested but also on their own
initiative when not requested.
Individuals have the obligation to care for the needs of
and respect the rights of their existing children (intellectual,
emotional and physical); and, in their decision to have a child
(or another child), to determine if they will be able to care
for the needs and respect the rights of the child-to-be. Since
individuals are obliged to respect the rights of others, they
are obliged in their conduct to act in such a way that these
rights are not jeopardized. In determining family size, this
means they are obliged to exercise their own freedom of choice
in such a way that they do not curtail the freedom of others.
They are obliged, in short, to respect the requirements of the
common good in their exercise of free choice.21 The source of
these obligations is the rights of others.

GOVERNMENTS
The role of governments in promoting the welfare of its
citizens has long been recognized. It is only fairly recently,
however, that governments have come to take a leading role
in an anti-natalist control of fertility. This has come about by
the establishment in a number of countries of national family
planning programs and the establishment of national popu-
lation policies. While many countries still do not have such
policies, few international objections have been raised against
the right of nations to develop them. So far, most government
population policies have rested upon and been justified in
terms of an extension of freedom of choice. Increasingly,
though, it is being recognized that since demographic trends







ETHICS AND POPULATION LIMITATION


can have a significant impact on national welfare, it is within
the right of nations to adopt policies designed to reduce birth
rates and slow population growth.
A preliminary question must, therefore, be asked. Is there
any special reason to presume or suspect that governmental
intervention in the area of individual procreation and na-
tional fertility patterns raises problems which, in kind, are
significantly different from other kinds of interventions? To
put the question another way, can the ethico-political prob-
lems which arise in this area be handled by historically and
traditionally available principles of political ethics, or must
an entirely new form of ethics be devised?
I can see no special reason to think that the formation of
interventionist anti-natalist national population policies poses
any unique theoretical difficulties. To be sure, the problem
of a perceived need to reduce population growth is historically
new; there exists no developed political or ethico-political
tradition dealing with the specific problem. Yet the principle
of governmental intervention into procreation-related be-
havior has a long historical precedent: in earlier pro-natalist
population policies, in the legal regulation of marriage, and
in laws designed to regulate sexual behavior. It seems a safe
generalization to say that governments have felt (and gen-
erally been given) as much right to intervene in this area as
in any other where individual and collective welfare appears
at stake. That new forms of intervention may seem called for
or be proposed (i.e., in an anti- rather than pro-natalist di-
rection) does not mean that a new ethical or political principle
is at issue. No such principle at least appears immediately
evident.
Yet if it is possible to agree that no new problems of prin-
ciples are raised, it is still possible to argue that a further
extension of an old principle-the right of government inter-
vention into procreation-related behavior-would be wrong.
Indeed, it is an historical irony that after a long international
struggle to establish the freedom of choice of individuals to







THE ETHICAL ACTORS


control their own fertility, that freedom should immediately
be challenged in the name of the population crisis. Irony or
not, there is no cause to be surprised by such a course of
events. The history of human liberty is studded with instances
in which, for a variety of reasons, it has been possible to say
that liberty is a vital human good and yet that, for the sake of
other goods, restriction of liberty seems required. A classical
argument for the need of a government is that a formal and
public apparatus is necessary to regulate the use of individual
liberty for the sake of the common good.
It will, in any case, be the premise of the ensuing discussion
that governments have as much right to intervene in pro-
creation-related behavior as they do in other areas of behavior
affecting the general welfare. This right extends to the control
of fertility generally and the control of individual fertility in
particular. The critical issue is the way in which this right is to
be exercised-its conditions and limits-and that can only
be approached by first noting some general issues bearing on
the restriction of individual freedom of choice by govern-
ments.
Governments have the right to take those steps necessary to
insure the preservation and promotion of the common good:
the protection and advancement of the right to life, liberty
and property. The maintenance of an orderly and just po-
litical and legal system, of internal and external security, and
an equitable distribution of goods and resources are encom-
passed within its rights. Its obligations are to act in the
interests of the people, to observe human rights, to respect
national values and traditions and to guarantee justice and
equality. Since excessive population growth can touch upon
all these elements of national life, responses to population
problems will encompass both the rights and obligations
of governments. As will be argued in more detail below,
however, governmental acts should represent collective na-
tional decisions and be subject to a number of controlling
stipulations.







ETHICS AND POPULATION LIMITATION


ORGANIZATIONS
Democratic societies are marked by the existence of private,
voluntary organizations. Their right to existence is legally
guaranteed. They are free to act as they see fit provided they
act within the law. Morally, they are required to act in ac-
cordance with principles of human rights and dignity. Along
with other voluntary associations, organizations working in
the field of population have the same general rights as other
associations: the right to freedom of speech and action, free-
dom from unjust and illegal governmental interference, the
right to press their own viewpoint. Specifically, voluntary
population organizations have the right to engage in research,
to provide information, assistance and support when re-
quested, the right to persuade individuals, other organizations
and governments to accept offers of information and assistance.
The obligations of private organizations are more complex.
They fall into three categories: obligations toward individ-
uals, laws and governments.
Private organizations working in the population field have
the same obligations as individuals: to respect the freedom of
choice of other individuals. Respect for this freedom requires
more than a merely perfunctory or formalistic attempt to
determine the wishes or values of another. While it is the right
of organizations to engage in rational persuasion of others,
they should bear in mind that, even in situations where there
is in principle the right of individual decision-making, there
can often be an inequality of power relationships. Uneducated
people often feel at a disadvantage in their relationship with
educated elites. They may feel intimidated even if that is not
the intention of the elite person with whom they interact. The
extensive literature on the problem of "voluntary consent"
has detailed both the difficulties in adequately defining the
concept and in assuring that such consent has genuinely been
obtained. It is not enough simply to ask for consent and to get
an answer. More than that, it is necessary for those seeking
consent to make a serious effort to determine, so far as pos-







THE ETHICAL ACTORS


sible, if verbal responses adequately reflect a full freedom of
choice. Complaints of minority and other groups that they are
sometimes at a disadvantage in the face of the persuasive
efforts of majorities and elites must be taken seriously.
An important component of freedom of choice is the right
of the individual to have his perception of situations count;
that perception should be the starting point. When assist-
ance is being offered to individuals, organizations also have
the obligation to make known to them the possible or likely
consequences of their choices. They have the right to point
out the advantages as they see them; they have the obligation
to point out possible disadvantages.
The obligations of voluntary organizations toward existing
laws, whether in their own or in other countries, are compli-
cated by the fact that not all laws are just, representative of
public opinion or rational. If it is taken to be the human
right of individuals to control their own fertility, it would
seem morally permissible for an organization to press for the
fulfillment of those rights even if in opposition to existing
laws. But this course would be permissible only if it was deter-
mined that the people of an area or nation were seeking those
rights, and that all efforts to have the laws changed had failed.
Politically of course any attempt to circumvent laws could be
exceedingly unwise; and it would be necessary to determine
if a circumvention of laws for the sake of one set of human
rights would be worth the threat that the principle of circum-
vention would introduce into a social order. It could only be
justified as a last resort and only if some central human values
seemed to be at stake.
Normally, organizations would be obliged to respect not
only existing laws but also community attitudes and mores.
This would particularly be the case where the organizations
are external to the communities or nations within which they
operate. They cannot presume an automatic right to intervene
in either the internal or external affairs of a society. On the
contrary, societies have the right to self-determination, in-







ETHICS AND POPULATION LIMITATION


cluding the right to exclude those outside of the society they
choose not to admit.
The obligations of voluntary organizations toward govern-
ments whom they assist pose still further complications.
Organizations have the right to provide information so long
as they do not infringe the rights of individuals and the
rights of governments to implement a nations desire for self-
determination. If a government has not expressly forbidden
an organization to assist in the development of programs and
policies, they ought feel no compunction about doing so. The
determining element would be the desires of the people.

RECAPITULATION
It is time to pause and recapitulate the points so far made.
This will be done by offering some summary propositions,
which I will then use to suggest solutions to some specific
ethical issues.

1. General moral rules
(a.) Individuals have the right to freedom of procreative
choice; they have the obligation to respect the freedom of
others and the requirements of the common good.
(b.) Governments have the right to take those steps neces-
sary to secure a maximization of freedom, justice and security/
survival; they have the obligation to act in such a way
that freedom and justice are protected and security/survival
enhanced.
(c.) Organizations have the right to act as they see fit pro-
viding that they respect the rights of individual and govern-
ments; they have the obligation to respect those rights.

2. Criteria for ethical decision-making
(a.) One (individual, government, organization) is obliged
to act in such a way that the fundamental values of freedom,
justice, and security/survival are respected.







SOME SPECIFIC ISSUES


(b.) In cases of conflict, one is obliged to act in such a way
that any limitation of one or more of the three fundamental
values-a making of exceptions to the rules concerning these
values-continues to respect the values and can be justified
because it promises to increase the balance of good over evil.

3. Rank order of preference
(a.) Those choices of action ought to be preferred which
give a primacy of place to the value of freedom of choice.
(b.) If conditions appear to require a limitation of freedom,
this should be done in such a way as to minimize the direct
and indirect harmful consequences, and be just in the chosen
means of limitation; the less the harm, the higher the ranking.

SOME SPECIFIC ISSUES

Since it has already been contended that individual freedom
of choice has a primacy, the ethical issues to be specified here
will concentrate on those posed for governments and organi-
zations. And this focus will, in any event, serve to test the
limits of individual freedom.

GOVERNMENTS
Faced with an excessive population growth, a variety of
courses are open to governments. They can do nothing at all.
They can institute, develop or expand voluntary family plan-
ning programs. They can attempt to implement proposals
which go "beyond family planning."22
Would it be ethically right for a nation experiencing exces-
sive population growth to do nothing at all? Let us assume
that a government had sound evidence that present and pro-
jected growth pose a direct and relatively immediate threat
to physical life. In that event, and since it is the obligation
of government to do what is necessary to protect security/
survival, it would be wrong for a government to do nothing.
Moreover, when it can be shown that the people desire the







ETHICS AND POPULATION LIMITATION


knowledge and means of reducing the size of their families, a
government would be derelict in its duty to the right of
individuals to procreative freedom if it did nothing. Is it
possible to imagine circumstances under which a government
would be justified in doing nothing? Perhaps so, if, for
instance, a government could show that its decision to do
nothing truly represented the desires of those it governed.
However, since a decision to do nothing would have profound
implications for future generations, it is difficult to see how it
could justify decisions which would, in effect, preempt their
right to freedom and security/survival.
Is it right for a government, in response to excessive popu-
lation growth, to institute, develop and implement a voluntary
family planning program? Yes, for this is one way for a govern-
ment to respect and make effective the individual's right to
free choice. Indeed, quite apart from a population problem,
governments have an obligation to respect freedom of choice
in family planning. If knowledge does not exist of the possible
choices, or the means do not exist to implement the choices,
then the freedom is nullified; hence, governments appear to
have an obligation to make the freedom efficacious, by the
establishment of a program. If it could be shown that volun-
tary organizations are meeting the need, this would diminish
the government's obligation to act.
Is it right to include sterilization and abortion in voluntary
government family planning programs? Sterilization appears
to pose no special ethical issues insofar as its choice remains
wholly voluntary and that choice is made upon the best
available knowledge of the consequences for the individual.
Family planning programs would, of course, have the obli-
gation of taking the initiative if necessary in pointing out the
consequences; otherwise, the individual's capacity to make a
prudent choice would be limited. To be sure, it is the obli-
gation of those responsible for family planning programs to
make available to individuals their knowledge of the conse-
quences (medical, psychological, etc.) of any method included







SOME SPECIFIC ISSUES


in their program. Abortion poses more difficult problems,
primarily because many individuals and some religions con-
sider abortion the taking of human life. However, if abortion
is legal in a country and if its use remains voluntary in a
family planning program, it would seem ethically right to
include it in a program.23
Would it be right for governments to go "beyond family
planning" if the gravity of excessive population growth could
be shown? This question conceals a great range of issues.
Who would decide if governments have this right? Of all the
possible ways of going "beyond family planning," which could
be most easily justified and which would be the hardest to
justify? How much of a showing of the gravity of the problem
would be necessary? As a general proposition, it is possible
ethically to say that governments would have the right to go
beyond family planning. The obligation of governments
to protect fundamental values could require that they set
aside the primacy of freedom in order to protect justice and
security/survival. But everything would depend upon the way
in which they proposed to do so. Let us examine some of the
possibilities, attempting at the end to specify an ethical "rank
order of preference":
Would it be right for governments to establish involuntary
fertility controls? These might include (if technically feasible)
the use of a mass "fertility control agent," the licensing of the
right to have children, compulsory temporary or permanent
sterilization, or compulsory abortion.24 Proposals of this kind
have been put forth primarily as "last resort" methods, often
in the context that human survival may be at stake. "Com-
pulsory control of family size is an unpalatable idea to many,"
the Ehrlichs have written, "but the alternatives may be much
more horrifying .. human survival seems certain to require
population control programs. ." 2Their own suggestion
is manifestly coercive: "If... relatively uncoercive laws should
fail to bring the birth rate under control, laws could be
written that would make the bearing of a third child illegal







ETHICS AND POPULATION LIMITATION


and that would require an abortion to terminate all such
pregnancies."26
That last suggestion requires examination. Let us assume
for the moment that the scientific case has been made that
survival itself is at stake, and that the administrative and
enforcement problems admit of a solution. Even so, some
basic ethical issues would remain. "No one," the United
Nations has declared, "shall be subjected to torture or to
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."27
It is hard to see how compulsory abortion, requiring govern-
mental invasion of a woman's body, could fail to qualify as
"inhuman or degrading .punishment." Moreover, it is
difficult to see how this kind of suggestion can be said to
respect in any way the values of freedom and justice. It re-
moves free choice altogether, and in its provision for an
abortion of the third child makes no room for distributive
justice at all; its burden would probably fall upon the poorest
and least educated. It gives security/survival the primacy but
to such an extent and in such a way that the other values are
ignored altogether. But could not one say, where survival
itself is at stake, that this method would increase the balance
of good over evil? The case would not be easy to make,
(a) because survival is not the only human value at stake,
(b) because the social consequences of such a law could be
highly destructive (e.g., the inevitably massive fear and
anxiety about third pregnancies which would result from such
a law), and (c) because it would be almost impossible to show
that this is the only method which would or could work to
achieve the desired reduction in birth rates.
Would it be right for governments to develop "positive"
incentive programs, designed to provide people with money
or goods in return for a regulation of their fertility behavior?
These might include payments for sterilization, for the use
of contraceptives, for periods of non-pregnancy or non-birth,
for family planning bonds or "responsibility prizes."28 In prin-
ciple, incentive schemes are non-coercive, i.e., people are not







SOME SPECIFIC ISSUES


forced to take advantage of the incentive. Instead, the point
of an incentive is to give them a choice they did not previ-
ously have.
Yet there are a number of ethical questions about incentive
plans. To whom would they most appeal? Presumably, their
greatest appeal would be to the poor, those who want or need
the money or goods offered by an incentive program; they
would hold little appeal for the affluent, who already have
these things. Yet if the poor desperately need the money or
goods offered by the incentive plan, it is questionable whether,
in any real sense, they have a free choice. Their material
needs may make the incentive seem coercive to them. Thus,
if it is only or mainly the poor who would find the induce-
ments of an incentive plan attractive, a question of distribu-
tive justice is raised. Because of their needs, the poor have
less choice than the rich about accepting or rejecting the
incentive; this could be seen as a form of exploitation of
poverty. In sum, one can ask whether incentive schemes are
or could be covertly coercive, and whether they are or could
be unjust?29 If so, then while they may serve the need for
security/survival, they may do so at the expense of freedom
and justice.
At least three responses seem possible. First, if the need for
security/survival is desperate, incentive schemes might well
appear the lesser evil in comparison with more overtly coercive
alternatives. Second, the possible objections to incentive
schemes could be reduced if, in addition to having the benefit
of reducing births, they met additional needs as well. For
instance, a "family planning bond" program would have the
additional benefit of providing old-age security.30 And any one
of the programs might be defended on the grounds that those
who take advantage of it actually want to control births in
any case (if this can be shown). Third, much could depend
upon the size of the incentive benefits. At present, most in-
centive programs offer comparatively small rewards; one may
doubt that they offer great dilemmas for individuals or put







ETHICS AND POPULATION LIMITATION


them in psychologically difficult straits. The objection of
coercion would become most pertinent if it can be shown
that the recipients of an incentive believe they have no real
choice in the matter (because of their desperate poverty or
the size of the incentive); so far, this does not appear to be
the case.31
While ethical objections have been leveled at incentive
programs because of some experienced corrupt practices in
their implementation, this seems to raise less serious theo-
retical issues. Every program run by governments is subject
to corruption; but there are usually ways of minimizing
them (by laws and review procedures, for instance). Corrup-
tion, I would suggest, becomes a serious theoretical issue
only when and if it can be shown that a government program
is inherently likely to create a serious, inescapable and socially
damaging system of corruption. This does not appear to be
the case with those incentive programs so far employed or
proposed.
Would it be right for governments to institute "negative"
incentive programs? These could take the form of a with-
drawal of child or family allowances after x number of chil-
dren, a withdrawal of maternity benefits after x number, or a
reversal of tax benefits, favoring those with small families.82
A number of objections have been leveled at such proposed
programs. They are directly coercive, in that they deprive
people of a free choice about how many children they will
have by imposing a penalty on excess procreation; thus they
do not give a primacy to freedom of choice. They can also
violate the demands of justice, especially in those cases where
the burden of the penalties would fall upon those children
who would lose benefits available to their siblings. And the
penalties would probably be more onerous to the poor than
to the rich, further increasing the injustice. Finally, from
quite a different perspective, the social consequences of such
programs could be most undesirable. They could, for instance,
have the effect of worsening the health and welfare of those







SOME SPECIFIC ISSUES


mothers, families and children who would lose needed social
and welfare benefits. Moreover, such programs could be
patently unjust in those places where effective contraceptives
do not exist (most places at present). For in that case, people
would be penalized for having children which the available
birth control methods do not effectively allow them to avoid.
It is possible to imagine ways of reducing the force of these
objections. If the penalties were quite mild, more symbolic
than actual (as Garret Hardin has proposed), the objection
from the viewpoint of free choice would be less; and the same
would apply to the objection from the viewpoint of justice.33
Moreover, if the penalty system was devised in such a way
that the welfare of children and families would not be
harmed, the dangerous social consequences would be miti-
gated. Much would depend, in short, upon the actual pro-
visions of the penalty plan and the extent to which it could
minimize injustice and harmful social consequences. None-
theless, penalty schemes raise some serious ethical problems.
They would seem justifiable only if it could be shown that
survival/security was at stake and that, in their application,
they could give due respect to freedom and justice. Finally,
it would have to be shown that, despite their disadvantages,
they promised to increase the balance of good over evil-
which would include a calculation of the harm done to free-
dom and justice and a weighing of other possibly harmful
social consequences.
Would it be right for governments to introduce anti-natalist
shifts in social and economic institutions? Among such shifts
might be a raising of marriage ages, manipulation of the
family structure in a nonfamilial direction, and bonuses for
delayed marriage.34 The premise of these proposals is that
fertility patterns are influenced by the context in which
choices are made, and that some contexts (e.g., higher female
employment) are anti- rather than pro-natalist. Thus, instead
of intervening directly into the choices women make, they
would alter the environment of choice; freedom of individual







ETHICS AND POPULATION LIMITATION


choice would remain. The attractiveness of these proposals
lies in their non-interference with choice; they do not envision
coercion. But they are not without their ethical problems, at
least in some circumstances. A too-heavy weighting of the
environment of choice in an anti-natalist direction would be
tantamount to an interference with freedom of choice-even
if, technically, a woman could make a free choice. In some
situations, a manipulation of the institution of marriage
(e.g., raising the marriage age) could be unjust, especially
when there exist no available social options for women other
than marriage.
The most serious problems, however, lie in the potential
social consequences of changes in basic social institutions.
What would be the long-term consequences of a radical
manipulation of family structure for the male-female rela-
tionship, for the welfare of children, for the family? One
might say that the consequences would be good or bad, but
the important point is that they would have to be weighed.
Should some of them appear bad, one would then have to
justify these consequences as entailing a lesser evil than a
continuation of high fertility rates. If some of the changes
promised to be all-but-irreversible once introduced, the justi-
fication would have to be all the greater. However, if the
introduction of shifts in social institutions had some advan-
tages in addition to anti-natalism-for instance, greater free-
dom for women, a value in its own right-these could be
taken to offset some other possibly harmful consequences.
Would it be right for the government of a developed nation
to make the establishment of a population control program
in a developing nation a condition of extending food aid?35
This would be extremely difficult to justify on ethical
grounds. At the very least, it would constitute an interference
in a nation's right to self-determination.38 Even more seri-
ously, it would be a direct exploitation of one nation's poverty
in the interests of another nation's concept of what is good
for it; and that would be unjust. Finally, I would argue that,







SOME SPECIFIC ISSUES


on the basis of Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, a failure to provide needed food aid would
be a fundamental violation of the right to life (when that aid
could, without great cost to the benefactor nation, be given).37
The argument that such aid, without an attendant population
control program, would only make the problem worse in the
long run, is defective. Those already alive, and in need of
food, have a right to security/survival. To willfully allow
them to die, or to deprive them of the necessities of life, in
the name of saving even more lives at a later date cannot be
justified in the name of a greater balance of good over evil.
There could be no guarantee that those lives would be saved,
and there would be such a violation of the rights of the living
(including the right to life) that fundamental human values
would be sacrificed.
Would it be right for a government to institute a population
control program which goes "beyond family planning" for the
sake of racist or self-interested political ends? No, because
racism is itself ethically illegitimate, involving gross injustice
and deprivation of freedom. The use of population programs
for self-interested political ends (e.g., the maintenance of a
government regime, the protection of the interests of an elite
group) is no less wrong, a violation also of freedom and justice.
But what of those situations where only a voluntary family
planning program is envisaged, a program which has the
virtue of providing assistance known to be desired but which
also, as a vice, happens to serve the racist or political interests
of those establishing the program? A problem of this kind
indicates the shortcomings of using a criterion so general as
the "balance of good over evil." My own conclusion is that
it would be wrong for a government to introduce such a
program unless it made known its ulterior political purposes
in doing so. Otherwise, those taking part in the program
would not have a full knowledge of the possible consequences
of their choices; and that would be to deprive them of an
important element of freedom of choice-knowledge of con-







ETHICS AND POPULATION LIMITATION


sequences. Put another way, a "voluntary" program which
concealed the motives behind the program and its political
implications, would not be genuinely voluntary.
Would it be right for a government to institute programs
which go "beyond family planning"-particularly in a coercive
direction-for the sake of future more than of present gen-
erations? This is a particularly difficult question, in great part
because the status of the rights of yet-to-be-born generations
has never been philosophically, legally or ethically analyzed
in any great depth.38 On the one hand, it is evident that the
actions of one generation can have profound effects on the
options available to future generations. And just as those
living owe much of their own welfare to those who preceded
them historically (beginning with their parents), so too, the
living would seem to have obligations to those yet unborn.
On the other hand, though, the living do themselves have
rights, not just potential but actual. To set aside these rights,
necessary for the dignity of the living, in favor of those not yet
living would, I think, be to act arbitrarily.
A general solution might, however, be suggested. While the
rights of the living should take clear precedence over the
rights of unborn generations, the living have an obligation
to refrain from actions which would endanger the possibility
of future generations enjoying the same rights they presently
enjoy. This means, for instance, that the present generation
should not exhaust non-renewable resources, irrevocably
pollute the environment or procreate to such an extent that
future generations will be left with an unmanageably large
number of people. All of these obligations imply a possible
restriction of freedom. However, since the present generation
does have the right to make use of natural resources and to
procreate, it must be demonstrated (and not just asserted) that
the conduct of the present generation is such as to pose a direct
threat to the possibility of future generations enjoying similar
rights. In a word, the present generation cannot be deprived
of rights on the basis of vague speculations about the future








SOME SPECIFIC ISSUES


or uncertain projections into the future (see "freedom and
risk-taking," p. 40).
Do governments have the right unilaterally to introduce
programs which go "beyond family planning"? It is doubtful
that they do. Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights asserts that "Everyone has the right to take
part in the government of his country, directly or through
freely chosen representatives The will of the people shall
be the basis of the authority of government."39 No reason is
evident why matters pertaining to fertility control should be
exempt from the requirements of this right. By direct impli-
cation, not only measures which go beyond family planning,
but family planning programs as well require the sanction of
the will of the people and the participation of the people in
important decisions.

SOME FORMAL CRITERIA AND A RANKING OF PREFERENCES
The preceding list of specific issues by no means exhausts
the full range of possible ethical issues pertaining to govern-
mental action; it is meant to be illustrative only of some of
the major issues. Moreover, the suggested solutions are no less
illustrative. The complexities of specific situations could well
lead to a modification of any one of them. That is why ethical
analysis can never say exactly what ought to be done in x
place, at y time, by z people. It can suggest general guide-
lines only.
I want now to propose some general ethical guidelines for
governmental action, putting them in the form of a "rank
order of preferences," from the most preferable to the least
preferable.
1. Given the primacy accorded to freedom of choice, gov-
ernments have an obligation to do everything within their
power to protect, enhance and implement freedom of choice
in family planning. This means the establishment, as the first
order of business, of effective voluntary family planning
programs.







ETHICS AND POPULATION LIMITATION


2. If it turns out that voluntary programs are not effective
in reducing excessive population growth, then governments
have the right, as the next step, to introduce programs which
go "beyond family planning." However, in order to justify
the introduction of such programs, it must be shown that
voluntary methods have been adequately and fairly tried, and
yet nonetheless have failed and promise to continue to fail.
It is highly doubtful that, at present, such programs have
"failed"; they have not been tried in any massive and sys-
tematic way.40
3. In choosing among possible programs which go "beyond
family planning," governments have an obligation to first try
those which, comparatively, most respect freedom of choice
(i.e., are the least coercive). For instance, they should try
"positive" incentive programs and manipulation of social
structures before resorting to "negative" incentive programs
and involuntary fertility controls.
4. Further, if circumstances force a government to choose
programs which are either quasi- or wholly coercive, they can
justify such programs if and only if a number of prior con-
ditions have been met:
(a) If, in the light of the primacy of free choice, government
has discharged the burden of proof necessary to justify a limi-
tation of free choice; and the burden of proof is on the gov-
ernment. This burden may be discharged by a demonstration
that continued unrestricted liberty poses a direct threat to
distributive justice or security/survival. Restrictions on lib-
erty can only be instituted when essential requirements of the
common good are threatened.
(b) If, in light of the right of citizens to take part in the
government of their country:
-the proposed limitations on freedom promise to increase
the sum total, in the long run, of options of choice. Thus even
if set aside temporarily, a commitment to freedom of choice
must remain influential.
-decisions to limit freedom are collective decisions.







SOME SPECIFIC ISSUES


-the limitations on freedom are in accord with the prin-
ciple of due process of law and distributive justice. The limi-
tations must be legally regulated and the burden must fall
upon all equally.
-the chosen means of limitation respect human dignity,
which will be here defined as respecting those rights specified
in the United Nations "Declaration of Human Rights." The
end-even security/survival-does not justify the means when
the means violate human dignity and when the means logi-
cally contradicts the end.
As a general rule, the more coercive the proposed plan, the
more stringent the conditions necessary to justify and regulate
the coercion should be. In addition, as one moves through a
continuum of possible programs, from the least coercive to
the most coercive, there is an obligation to take account of the
possible social consequences of different programs, conse-
quences over and above their impact on freedom, justice and
security/survival. Thus if it appears that some degree of
coercion is required, that policy or program should be chosen
which:
entails the least amount of coercion.
limits the coercion to the fewest possible cases.
is most problem-specific.
allows the most room for dissent of conscience.
limits the coercion to the narrowest possible range of
human rights.
least threatens human dignity.
least establishes precedents for other forms of coercion.
is most quickly reversible if conditions change.
While it is true to say that social, cultural and political life
requires, and has always required, some degree of limitation
on individual liberty-and thus some coercion-that precedent
does not by itself automatically justify the introduction of new
limitations.41 Every proposal for a new limitation must be






ETHICS AND POPULATION LIMITATION


justified in its own terms-the specific form of the proposed
limitation must be specifically justified. It must be proved that
it represents the least possible coercion, that it minimizes
injustice to the greatest extent possible, that it gives the
greatest promise of enhancing security/survival, and that its
harmful consequences (short- and long-term) are the fewest
possible.

ORGANIZATIONS
The ethical problems facing private, voluntary non-govern-
mental organizations working in the population and family
planning field are somewhat different from those facing gov-
ernments, though most of the same criteria will apply.
Do organizations have the obligation to provide informa-
tion on the consequences (medical, social, etc.) of the pro-
grams and methods they support and promote? Yes, since a
knowledge of these consequences will or should be an impor-
tant part of a decision to accept the assistance offered by an
organization. Without knowledge, the freedom of recipients
is curtailed by real or comparative ignorance. The obligation
to support the freedom of others cannot be discharged if avail-
able knowledge is withheld. But what if the consequences of
different kinds of assistance and methods are not known?
In that case, the obligation would be discharged by pointing
out that fact. Is there an obligation to provide a knowledge
of consequences even if a recipient of aid does not ask for it?
Yes, if the known data is of a kind which might significantly
influence a decision whether to accept the aid or not.
Is it right for organizations to assist dictatorial governments
in the development of population control programs? Every-
thing would depend upon the conditions under which assist-
ance was provided. By definition, dictatorial governments
deprive people of the right to take part in the government
of their country. Direct assistance to such governments can
readily (and often justly) be considered a means of aiding and
abetting them in their maintenance of power.







SOME SPECIFIC ISSUES


Yet a distinction can be made between helping a govern-
ment and helping the people themselves. If, in the instance
of population control, the goals of a dictatorial government
reflect the desires of the people, assistance could be ethically
legitimate. The critical question would be whether the people
want the kind of assistance and the program the government
proposes to help provide them. It is their freedom, not that
of the government, which is important. In case of doubt, the
granting of a request ought to be conditional upon the right
of the organization to conduct a survey to determine what
the people want. In cases where there is reason to think that
the government has ulterior motives in wanting to see popu-
lation control programs introduced, it would become im-
perative to inform potential recipients of aid of the possible
political consequences of their acceptance. Only in that way
could their full freedom be protected.
Is it right for organizations to advocate that methods or
programs be adopted abroad which are not acceptable at
home? Some distinctions need to be made here. For instance,
abortion is not yet legally acceptable in all areas in the
United States; yet the right exists to advocate the legalization
of abortion. There is no reason why it could not be advocated
for other countries-as long as those countries remain fully
free to reject it. Thus a general principle: it is right to advo-
cate for other countries anything which can legally be advo-
cated for this country.
Yet other kinds of cases present themselves. In the United
States it is considered medically vital that women who make
use of oral contraceptives be carefully supervised and given
regular medical examinations. Would it be right to promote
the use of such contraceptives in countries which could not
manage medical supervision or examinations? Only under one
condition: that those who would use the contraceptives be
informed that there is some medical risk and that, normally,
their use should medically be monitored-something which
cannot be done in their case should they choose to use the






ETHICS AND POPULATION LIMITATION


contraceptive. Any other course would be a violation of the
recipient's right to freedom, which includes knowledge of
possible consequences.
What about the testing of contraceptives in countries which
have less stringent drug-testing laws than does the United
States?42 There is no international legal requirement that all
nations have the same drug-testing standards as the United
States. At the same time, though, the point of the American
standards is to protect experimental subjects from harm and
abuse. It would ethically be wrong to support experiments
which did not protect subjects or have their voluntary consent,
regardless of local laws on the subject. Nor can it be plausibly
argued that the dangers of excessive population growth war-
rant a lessening of the moral standards which should accom-
pany any drug testing. A whole range of diseases and path-
ologies threaten human life, any one of which might be used
to claim that a warrant exists for lower standards; it would
seem wise that, if exceptions are not made in those cases, they
should not be made in this one.
Is it right for organizations to use funds contributed by
donors with ulterior motives? Yes, if a number of conditions
are met: if the motives do not violate freedom and justice;
if those who are to be the primary beneficiaries of the funds
are informed of the motives of those who provided them; if the
recipient organization informs the donor that the funds
will be used to further the ends of the organization rather
than the goals of the donor; if the use to be made of the funds
does nothing to violate the U.N. "Declaration of Human
Rights."
Do organizations working in the population field have any
obligation for related social and political reforms? Within
limits, there are some obligations. When social and political
reforms have as their aim the realization of basic human
rights, e.g., life, liberty and security, any organization whose
activities could have an influence on their achievement has an







SOME SPECIFIC ISSUES


obligation to do nothing which would hinder a realization of
that goal. Moreover, within the limits of their capability, they
have an obligation to make every effort to see that their own
efforts make a contribution to the needed social and political
reforms. At the very least, they have an obligation to act in
ways consistent with their own stated ultimate goals. For
instance, if one of the ultimate goals of a population organi-
zation is the reduction of poverty or an improvement of the
quality of life, then they would seem obliged to take whatever
steps they could to make certain that their own efforts did not
hinder the achievement of that goal. If it could be shown, for
example, that a population control program would, in an
oligarchical society, serve mainly to increase the wealth of the
rich, then an organization would be justified in seeking
assurances that the assistance it renders would be made part
of a program of social reform., justly distributing any improve-
ment in the GNP which might stem from its efforts.43 In
situations where social reform is badly needed, one concrete
way of testing whether the activities of a population organi-
zation are a hindrance to social and political reforms would
be by consulting those within a nation most active in pressing
for those reforms. What do they have to say about the ac-
tivities of the organization?
Do population organizations have the right to advocate and
promote population control if they know that such control
could, in some societies, lead to vast long-run cultural changes?
As long as the advocacy and promotion respects the rights of
a people to self-determination, and as long as the available
information on likely or possible long-run consequences are
made known, organizations do have that right. In addition,
if the organizations have reason to believe that what they
promote can have important long-range consequences, they
would appear to have an obli ation to undertake such research
as is possible for them, to determine what these consequences
might be.






ETHICS AND POPULATION LIMITATION


FREEDOM AND RISK-TAKING
The approach taken in this paper to the ethics of population
limitation has been cautionary. It has accepted the primacy
of freedom of choice as a given and has suggested that the
burden of proof must lie with proposals, policies or programs
which would place the primacy elsewhere. At the same time,
it has laid down numerous conditions necessary to discharge
the burden of proof. Indeed, they are so numerous, and the
process of ethical justification so difficult, that the possibility
of undertaking decisive action may seem to have been ex-
cluded. This is a reasonable concern, particularly if it is the
case that time is short. Is it reasonable to give the ethical
advantage to freedom of choice?4 Does this not mean that a
great chance is being taken? Is it not unethical to take risks
of that sort, and all the more so since others rather than our-
selves will have to bear the burden if the risk-taking turns out
disastrously? In particular, would it not be irresponsible for
governments to take risks of this magnitude?
Three kinds of response are possible in answer to these
questions. First, as mentioned, it can and has been argued
that freedom of choice has hardly been given an adequate test.
The absence of a safe, effective and cheap contraceptive has
been one hindrance, particularly in developing countries; it is
reasonable to expect that such a contraceptive will eventually
be developed. The weakness of existing family planning pro-
grams (and population policies dependent upon them) has
in great part been the result of inadequate financing, poor
administration and scanty research and survey data. These
are correctible deficiencies, assuming that nations give popu-
lation limitation a high priority. If they do not give it a high
priority, it will in any case be unlikely that more drastic
population policies could successfully be introduced or im-
plemented. Very little effort has been expended anywhere in
the world to educate and persuade people to change their pro-
creation habits. Until a full-scale effort has been made, there
are few good grounds for asserting that it will be ineffective.







SOME SPECIFIC ISSUES


Second, while the question of scientific/medical/techno-
logical readiness, political viability, administrative feasibility,
economic capability and assumed effectiveness of proposals
which would go "beyond family planning" is not directly
ethical in nature, it has some important ethical implications.
If it seems the case that all of these categories militate against
the practical possibility of instituting very strong, immediate
or effective coercive measures, then it could become irre-
sponsible to press for or support them. This would especially
be the case if it diverted attention away from what could be
done, e.g., an intensification of family planning programs.
Third, primacy has been given to freedom of choice for
ethical reasons. Whether this freedom will work as a means
of population limitation is a separate question. A strong indi-
cation that it will be ineffective does not, by itself, establish
grounds for rejecting it. Only if it can be shown that its failure
to reduce population growth threatens other important
human values, thus establishing a genuine conflict of values,
would the way be open to remove it from a place of primacy.
This is only another way of asserting that freedom of choice
is a right, grounded in a commitment to human dignity. The
concept of a "right" becomes meaningless if rights are wholly
subject to tests of economic, social or demographic utility, to
be given or withheld depending upon their effectiveness in
serving social goals.
In this sense, to predicate human rights at all is to take a
risk. It is to assert that the respect to be accorded human
beings ought not to be dependent upon majority opinion, cost-
benefit analysis, social utility, governmental magnanimity or
popular opinion. While it is obviously necessary to adjudicate
conflicts among rights, and often to limit one right in order
to do justice to another, the pertinent calculus is that of rights,
not of utility. A claim can be entered against the primacy of
one right only in the name of one or more other important
rights. The proper route to a limitation of rights is not directly
from social (demographic, economic, etc.) facts to rights, as if







ETHICS AND POPULATION LIMITATION


these facts are enough in themselves to prove the case against
a right. The proper route is by showing first that the social
facts threaten rights, and in what way, and then showing that
a limitation of one right may be necessary to safeguard or
enhance other rights. To give primacy to the right of free
choice is to take a risk. The justification for the risk is the
high value assigned to the right, a value which transcends
straight utilitarian considerations.


NOTES

1. Erik H. Erikson, Insight and Responsibility, W. W. Norton, New
York, 1964, p. 132.
2. Bernard Berelson, "Is There an Optimum Level of Population?" in
S. Fred Singer, ed., Is There an Optimum Level of Population?, The
Population Council, forthcoming, 1971.
3. See, for instance, Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich, Population,
Resources, Environment, W. H. Freeman and Co., San Francisco, 1970,
pp. 321-324.
4. A 1967 survey undertaken by the Gallup Organization, for example,
revealed that while 54% of those surveyed felt that the rate of American
population growth posed a serious problem, crime, racial discrimination
and poverty were thought to be comparatively more serious social prob-
lems. "American Attitudes on Population Policy: Recent Trends," in
Studies in Family Planning, No. 30, May 1968, p. 6.
5. P. H. Nowell-Smith, Ethics, New York, Penguin Books, 1954, p. 11.
6. Ibid., p. 12.
7. Ralph B. Potter, Jr., in the manuscript of a book edited by Leon
Kass and Daniel Callahan, Freedom, Coercion and the Life Sciences,
1971, forthcoming.
8. Kenneth E. Boulding, "Economics as a Moral Science," The Ameri-
can Economic Review, 59, March 1969, p. 1.
9. This is the thrust of Garrett Hardin in "The Tragedy of the
Commons," Science, 162, December 13, 1968, especially when he says
(pp. 1246-1247) that "It is a mistake to think that we can control the
breeding of mankind in the long run by an appeal to conscience. ...
The larger question we should ask is whether, as a matter of policy, we
should ever encourage the use of a technique the tendency (if not the
intention) of which is psychologically pathogenic." It is thus a short
step to his recommendation of "mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon








NOTES


by the majority of the people affected." (Ibid., p. 1247.) See also Kingsley
Davis, "Population Policy: Will Current Programs Succeed?" Science,
158, November 10, 1967, especially his comment that "Logically, it does
not make sense to use family planning to provide national population
control or planning. The 'planning' in family planning is that of each
separate couple." (p. 732.)
10. See, for instance, the frequency of this theme in the Black Muslim
newspaper, Muhammad Speaks, passim.
11. William K. Frankena, Ethics, Prentice-Hall, Engelwood Cliffs,
N. J., 1963, p. 11.
12. Ibid., p. 13.
13. Ibid., p. 14.
14. Ibid., p. 29.
15. Ibid., p. 31.
16. Ibid., p. 35.
17. Henry David Aiken, Reason and Conduct, Alfred A. Knopf, New
York, 1962, p. 310. Aiken's argument that liberty can not and should
not be defended on utilitarian grounds is worth citing in the context
of this paper: "The moral foundation of liberty, I contend, is nothing
other than the right to be at liberty itself. In short, the fountainhead
of freedom (if the phrase may be allowed) is not utility but simply and
solely the principle that every person has a right to be at liberty ....
What authenticates it is merely our own conscientious avowal of it. In
the language of Kant, the principle of liberty is categorically impera-
tive." (Ibid., p. 311.)
18. Final Act of the International Conference on Human Rights,
United Nations, 1968, p. 15. See also the "Declaration on Population:
The World Leaders Statement," in Studies in Family Planning, No. 26,
January 1968, pp. 1-3.
19. For instance, not only has Garrett Hardin, in response to the "The
World Leaders Statement" (Ibid.), denied the right of the family to
choice with regard to family size, he has also said that "If we love the
truth we must openly deny the validity of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, even though it is promoted by the United Nations."
(Hardin, Ibid., p. 1246.) How literally is one to take this statement?
The Declaration, after all, affirms such rights as life, liberty, dignity,
equality, education, privacy and freedom of thought. Are none of these
rights valid?
20. Final Act of the International Conference on Human Rights, Ibid.
21. Cf. A. S. Parkes, "The Right to Reproduce in an Overcrowded
World," in F. J. Ebling, ed., Biology and Ethics, Academic Press, New
York, 1969, pp. 109-116.








ETHICS AND POPULATION LIMITATION


22. See Bernard Berelson, "Beyond Family Planning," Studies in
Family Planning, No. 38, February 1969.
23. For a fuller discussion of the ethical problems of legalized abortion
see, for instance, Robert E. Hall, ed., Abortion in a Changing World,
Columbia University Press, New York, 1970, vol. 1, passim; and Daniel
Callahan, Abortion: Law, Choice and Morality, The Macmillan Com-
pany, New York, especially Chapter 14. The present status of abortion
laws throughout the world is detailed in Emily C. Moore, "Abortion:
What is Known?" The Population Council, forthcoming, 1971.
24. Berelson, "Beyond Family Planning," op. cit., p. 2.
25. Ehrlich and Ehrlich, op. cit., p. 256.
26. Ibid., p. 274.
27. "Universal Declaration of Human Rights," article 5, in Human
Rights: A Compilation of International Instruments of the United
Nations, United Nations, 1967.
28. Berelson, "Beyond Family Planning," op. cit., p. 2.
29. Cf. Edward Pohlman and Kamala Gopal Rao, "Some Ethical
Questions about Family Planning and Cash Incentives," The Licentiate,
17, 1967, pp. 236-241.
30. See, for instance, Ronald G. Ridker, "Synopsis of a Proposal for a
Family Planning Bond," in Studies in Family Planning, No. 43, June
1969, pp. 11-16.
31. The payments made in six different family planning programs are
listed in Incentive Payments in Family Planning Programmes, Inter-
national Planned Parenthood Federation, London, 1969, pp. 8-9.
32. Berelson, "Beyond Family Planning," op. cit., p. 2.
33. Garrett Hardin, "Multiple Paths to Population Control," Family
Planning Perspectives, 2, June 1970, p. 26.
34. Berelson, "Beyond Family Planning," op. cit., pp. 2-3.
35. See, for example, Wayne H. Davis, "More or Less People," The
New Republic, June 20, 1970, pp. 19-21; and Paul R. Ehrlich, The
Population Bomb, Ballantine Books, New York, 1968, pp. 158-173.
36. See the "International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights," I:1,1, in Human Rights: A Compilation of International
Instruments of the United Nations, op. cit., p. 4: "All people have the
right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine
their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural
development."
37. "Universal Declaration of Human Rights," op. cit., Article 3:
"Everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of person."
38. One of the few recent discussions on the obligation owed to future
generations is in Martin P. Golding, "Ethical Issues in Biological
Engineering," UCLA Law Review, 15, February 1968, pp. 457-463.







NOTES


39. "Universal Declaration of Human Rights," op. cit.
40. See Dorothy Nortman, "Population and Family Planning Pro-
grams: A Factbook," in Reports on Population/Family Planning, De-
cember 1969. Judith Blake expresses a pessimistic viewpoint on the
possibilities of family planning programs in "Demographic Science and
the Redirection of Population Policy," Journal of Chronic Diseases, 18,
1965, pp. 1181-1200. Cf. Judith Blake, "Population Policy for Americans:
Is the Government Being Misled?" Science, 164, May 2, 1969, pp. 522-
529; and the reply of Oscar Harkavy, Frederick S. Jaffe, Samuel M.
Wishik, "Family Planning and Public Policy: Who Is Misleading
Whom?" Science, 165, July 25, 1969, pp. 367-373.
41. Cf. Edward Pohlman, "Mobilizing Pressures Toward Small Fam-
ilies," Eugenics Quarterly, 13, June 1966, p. 122: "The spectre of
'experts' monkeying around with such private matters as family size
desires frightens many people as being too 'Big Brotherish.' But those
involved in eugenics, or psychotherapy, or child psychology, or almost
any aspect of family planning are constantly open to the charge of
interfering in private lives, so that the charge would not be new ....
Of course, many injustices have been done with the rationale of being
'for their own good.' But the population avalanche may be used to
justify-perhaps rationalize-contemplation of large-scale attempts to
manipulate family size desires, even rather stealthily." This mode of
reasoning may explain how some people will think and act; but it does
not constitute anything approaching an ethical justification.
42. Some critical issues in the development and testing of contra-
ceptives are discussed in Carl Djerassi, "Prognosis for the Development
of New Chemical Birth-Control Agents," Science, 166, October 24, 1969,
pp. 468-473. Djerassi argues that present FDA standards are too stringent
with regard to the testing of chemical contraceptives. Two useful ar-
ticles on the general problem of drug testing are Bernard Barber,
"Experimenting with Humans," The Public Interest, Winter 1967,
pp. 91-102, and Joseph F. Sadusk, Jr., "Drugs and the Public Safety,"
Annals of Internal Medicine, 65, October 1966, pp. 849-856.
43. I am indebted to J. Mayone Stycos for this suggestion, made in a
seminar on ethics and population limitation at The Population Council,
January 12, 1970.
44. In The Population Bomb, op. cit., pp. 197-198, Paul R. Ehrlich
argues that the taking of strong steps now to curb population growth
is the wiser and safer gamble than doing nothing or too little. This
seems to me a reasonable enough position, up to a point. That point
would come when the proposed steps would be such as to seriously
endanger human dignity; an ethic of survival, at the cost of other basic
human values, is not worth the cost.




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