Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Rees, Robert A.
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i62 I Dialogue The fifth section, headed "Man the Destroyer? Not Necessarily/' two essays by B. Belworth Gardner and Elvis J. Holt, deal with the problem of the relations of population pressure and environmental damage, and point out these are only loosely related and that the central problem of pollution and environmental damage is how to develop processes of production which ultimately produce more goods per "bad/7 Pollution and environmental deterioration result mainly from the fact that goods and bads are produced jointly and we want the goods and so are prepared to put up with the bads. Still, I think the authors do not recognize adequately that the disposal of bads depends on these being an "away" in which to throw them, even though in the long run, as Garrett Hardin has pointed out so eloquently, there is really no "away" at all, except perhaps outerspace, so that even in the present historical period the increase in human population diminishes the possibility of finding an "away" in which to throw things. Here again, there is a real problem of priorities and I think a strong case can be made at the moment that more progress can be made with environmental problems by working on the production functions themselves than on the absolute rise of the population. But, here again, this may be a difference between short-run and long-run priorities. The sixth section on "The 'Crisis' in Future Perspective" consists of essays by R. Buckminster Fuller and W. Farrell Edwards. Fuller, of course, is a great technological optimist. Edwards points out quite rightly that ecological strain in the future may result more from increasing per capita energy requirements and materials throughout than it does from increase in the numbers of the population. Still, one would have thought the conclusion of this is that we should put far more effort into reducing population in order to permit increased per capita energy consumption, so that this is an argument that can very easily backfire. One would like to have seen an essay which would criticize the methods of future projections, which are really very dubious, and a little study of the reasons why crystal balls in the past have been so remarkably clouded would not have come amiss. The final section is on "Population Policies: Implicit Values and Ethical Problems," with essays by Howard M. Bahr, one of the editors, and Arthur J. Dyck. These do raise some interesting issues in regard to the conflict of values, but neither of them to my mind comes to grips with the more difficult of the ethical issues involved. One issue is the almost inevitable and agonizing conflict between individual liberty, individual expression, and the realization of individual potential, and the necessity for overall social controls at what might be called a "macro" level. This is indeed the major problem of what might be called "political ethics," how to reconcile order with freedom, the development of the individual with the survival of the total society or even the total evolutionary experiment. The principle that individual liberty should be diminished as little as possible is a sound one. On the other hand, the principle also that individual liberty may have to be circumscribed in the interests of general survival has always been accepted. My own somewhat half-hearted suggestion of equally distributed marketable licenses for having children, what I sometimes call my "green stamp plan" is mentioned by Dyck, but he does not seem to me to appreciate the problem of how to have social control with a minimum intervention in individual liberty. The other ethical and political issue which I think is not mentioned at all in this volume, and which is perhaps so painful and dangerous that nobody dare mention it, is the problem of competitive population expansion on the part of differ-