Sunday, February 15, 2009

Population, Resources, and the Ideology of Science

David Harvey wrote this journal to explain that "The lack of ethical neutrality in science affects each and every attempt at scientific discussion of the population of resource relationship." He does this by discussing the views of Malthus, Ricardo, and Marx. Malthus uses the method of empiricism which I have found through the readings to be explained as a view that you can only believe something if you have experienced it or seen it first hand. Malthus uses the example of a man becoming and ostrich; Malthus says that he cannot contradict the statement if it can be shown that "The necks of man have been gradually elongating and the legs and feet are altering in shape" David Harvey goes on to discuss Malthus' morals. Malthus believed that society takes everything from the poor so that they can only think about the present and never think about the future because they have to worry about their "present necessities."
Malthus believes that giving welfare to lower classes only makes the more miserable because it doesn't give them any incentive to work as they are taken care of by the government. So the lower class continues to increase in number. Malthus also believes that the higher classes don't increase in population as much because they are afraid to lose their stature.

Ricardo believed that population regulated itself and is related to the wages of laborers, "the encouragement of high wages give to the increase in population, the number of laboures is increased, wages again fall to their natural price and indeed from a reaction sometimes fall below it." Ricardo believes that if wages are above their natural price because of accumulation of capitol then the population will not increase as rapidly.

Marx believed that nothing could be understood independently of the relations in which it has to other things. Marx uses the example of resources which "can be defined only in relationship to the mode of production." Resources cannot be understood with out considering the activity of consumers. In this aspect I agree with Marx's thinking. I also agree with Marx when he says that capitalism freed mankind from nature. Marx's method is called dialectical materialism.

Although this reading was kind of hard to understand at first after re-reading many of the sections over numerous times I can see how the examples explained the different views of the population resource principle.

1 comment:

  1. I was also a bit confused when it came to the comparisons of Malthusians, Marxists and others. The in class example did benefit some but what would help is a bulleted list of similarities and differences. Malthusians believe or so I interpreted that society robs the poor in order to take care of the needs of today rather than that of the future, and that the rich will always remain so as long as the lower class isn’t given incentives to work, as long as government pays its bills. This statement seems a broad statement & classification of people according to positions held in society. As if these oppressed people wouldn’t be successful at situating themselves in a world economy; it could even be said hateful towards populations of people held or repressed by class.
    Ricardo was different in that he did justify stable wages with the relations in stable laborers but when you raise pay this will increase the population and provide sort of this flux in capital vs. population.
    Marxists on the other hand believed that resources and consumer activity go hand in hand. I was a bit surprised that the author hadn’t mentioned Knaufts ideas as they are closely related to Marx with an example being that if we know the limitations of the past we can analyze them to consider limitations in the future. I disagree with some of Marx’s ideas but I also think many of them were revolutionary for the period. If you ever get a chance read Marx’s Concept of Man and I think the reading will make sense to you a bit more with that particular school of thought. Some ideas found in “Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts” would probably be the most relevant read. However to end it I’ll quote from “Capital” in which he states that bourgeois society doesn’t allow universal human nature to express itself, because in it ‘a general or a banker plays a great part, but mere man, on the other hand, a very shabby part. David Harvey wrote a good and scholarly article though some parts were difficult to digest.