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Basic RightsSubsistence, Affluence, and U.S. Foreign Policy: 40th Anniversary Edition$
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Henry Shue

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691202280

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691202280.001.0001

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Realism and Responsibility

Realism and Responsibility

(p.91) 4 Realism and Responsibility
Basic Rights

Henry Shue

Princeton University Press

This chapter assesses the argument that the practical consequences of everyone's enjoying adequate nutrition—and especially the allegedly resultant global “population explosion”—would make the fulfillment of subsistence rights impracticable, however genuine the rights may be at a theoretical level. It would hurt the future poor. These population objections rest upon a thesis about inevitable deprivation: deprivation that is inevitable unless population growth is slowed by means of the international refusal to fulfill subsistence rights. If indeed the world now has, or soon will have, an absolute shortage of vital resources, then some people will simply have to do without the necessities for survival. On this thesis about the explanation of deprivation, the unavoidable deprivations resulting from the supposed excess of people are taken to be as purely natural as any social phenomenon could be, and attempting to provide social guarantees against the resultant starvation is made to look quixotic.

Keywords:   population explosion, adequate nutrition, subsistence rights, deprivation, population growth, population control, starvation

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