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POPULATION THEORIES AND MORAL IMPLICATIONS
2.0 INTRODUCTION: THE MORALITY OF POPULATION CONTROL
Any treatise on population ethics must have an appropriate moral discourse of the concept of population. To this end, this chapter would look at the concept of population and its relationship with the environment in the moral and non-moral senses as it affectshuman and non-human resources. It would also examine or consider the moral implications of population control.For the most part, this chapter would look like an essay on social science; however a proper analysis of population is necessary for the rigorous philosophical discourse which follows.
2.1 THE NATURE OF POPULATION
Population studies are usually concerned with the quantitative aspect of it.That is, the size, structure, characteristics and territorial distribution of human populations and the changes occurring in them. It is also concerned with the study of the underlying causes of population phenomena.
According to English lexicography, population is the total number of people living in a particular geographical area. In a more general sense, population is a summation of all the organisms of the same group or species, which live in the same geographical area, and have the capability of interbreeding.[i]Human population is of primary concern here, although its effects and relations with non-human populations areof equal importance. Demography, derived from the Greek word “Demos” meaning “people”, is the scientific study of population. It is concerned with the study of the components of population, population variations, and changes. It looks at the evolution of population overtime, and also tries to scientifically predict future evolutions in population changes.
2.2 POPULATION DYNAMICS
The study of population cannot be done in isolation. When one attempts to describe, compare or explain the determinants of population phenomena, social phenomena has to be taken into consideration. To this end, the study of population is multidisciplinary in nature, involving an understanding of biology, genetics, mathematics, statistics, economics, etc.Moreover from this, the subject matter of any exposition on population would include an understanding of migration, social mobility, fertility, and mortality. The primary source of population data is population census which is the collection of information about people living in a particular geographical area at a certain time. Other sources of population data include vital statistics, dual report system, sample survey, population registers, etc. In what follows, I shall briefly comment on some aspects of population dynamics.
Migration is one of the important factors of population change. It affects a population size socially, culturally, economically and politically. According to The UN Demographic Dictionary, Migration is a form of geographical mobility or spatial mobility between one geographical area to another, generally involving a change in residence from the place of origin or place of departure to the place of destination or the place of arrival.
It is distinguished from other forms of movements in that it tends to be more permanent.
Migration may increase or decrease the size and structure of a population depending on the form of migration taking place. Immigration refers to the movements into and emigration refers to the movements out of a population territory. Thus, migrants leaving Nigeria to India to settle are immigrants to India, and emigrants to Nigeria.
Mortality also plays an important role in population dynamics. It is basically the study of the effects of deaths on the population. Since death can only occur after birth, mortality is the study of the span between birth and death of the population. As it would be pointed out in the theories of population, the factor of mortality plays a dominant role in the decrease in population rate. The study of mortality is useful in the analysis of demographic conditions. It helps to determine the possible changes in mortality conditions for the future.
Arguably, human fertility is primarily responsible for the biological replacement and maintenance of human society. The growth or sustenance of human population depends largely on the factor of fertility. It is a sort of positive force through which the population expands. The term fertility is generally used to indicate the actual reproductive performance of a woman or group of women and it starts with adulthood. Thus, the beginning of puberty is an indication of fertility. Fertility is the actual reproductive performance of an individual or group.
When the population of a given geographical area is much more than the available resources obtainable from such an area, such a place is over-populated. This usually leads to an overload on the workload of the environment, and in extension a reduction in the quality of life for the populace.Over-population arguably occurs in developing or under-developed communities where there is a high level of poverty and a low level of education concerning the relationship between the environment and the populace.
Under-population is a situation where the population of a given geographical area is much lower than the available resources. In the case of under-population, there is usually wastage of environmental resources due to lack of human resources to properly harness them. Under-population equally results in a less than desirable quality of life, and many people are left impoverished due to the lack of certain basic needs that would otherwise have been available if there were more people to add to the available human resources.
2.2.5 OPTIMUM POPULATION
When the available resources in a given area are proportional to the population size, the result is optimum population. Here, proportionality indicates a sort of equilibrium between human resources and non-human resources. In this case, the available resources in such a geographical area are properly harnessed to their best levels, and in turn this creates a living condition that is best suited to both the environment and the human population on it. Amongst the three theories above, optimum population is the preferred population. Precisely, given that in a state of optimum population, the development of a nation can progress at all levels with optimal moral results. More of this would be considered fully in the discussion of classical population theories.
2.3 POPULATION AND ENVIRONMENT: A CRUCIAL RELATIONSHIP