Parental desires and needs in the face of socio-economic and ecological constraints are the basis on which economic demography has been built. Moral philosophers in contrast study population ethics, but shy away from characterising the constraints under which the ethics is to be put to work.
No system of ethics should be expected to yield unquestionable directives in all conceivable circumstances, even to the same person. If we are to arrive at satisfactory policies, a suitable accommodation has to be found for the economist's concerns, the environmental scientist's predilections, and the philosopher's sensibilities. In this lecture I put a broad version of Utilitarian population ethics to work on current estimates of Earth's carrying capacity. The population size and the average standard of living that the ethics commends is shown to be substantially different from what they are today. Plausible ranges of values for the ethical parameters point to a desirable population size that is considerably lower than the current 7.2 billion and an average living standard that is higher than the current per capita income of some 12,000 international dollars a year.
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Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta
Partha Dasgupta, who was born in Dhaka (at that time in India) and educated in Varanasi (Matriculation 1958 from Rajghat Besant School), Delhi (B.Sc. Hons, in Physics, 1962, University of Delhi), and Cambridge (B.A. Hons. in Mathematics, 1965, and Ph.D. in Economics, 1968) at the University of Cambridge), is the Frank Ramsey Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Cambridge; Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge; and Visiting Professor at the New College of the Humanities, London. He taught at the London School of Economics during 1971-1984 and moved to the University of Cambridge in 1985 as Professor of Economics, where he served as Chairman of the Faculty of Economics in 1997-2001. During 1989-92 he was also Professor of Economics, Professor of Philosophy, and Director of the Program in Ethics in Society at Stanford University; and during 1991-97 he was Chairman of the (Scientific Advisory) Board of the Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics, Stockholm. Since 1999 he has been a Founder Member of the Management and Advisory Committee of the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE), Kathmandu. In 1996 he helped to establish the journal Environment and Development Economics, published by Cambridge University Press, whose purpose has been not only to publish original research at the interface of poverty and the environmental-resource base, but also to provide an opportunity to fellows in developing countries to publish their findings in an international journal. He is currently Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Wittgenstein Centre, Vienna; and Chairman of the Scientific Board of the International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP) on Global Environmental Change.
Professor Dasgupta's research interests have covered welfare and development economics, the economics of technological change, population, environmental and resource economics, the theory of games, the economics of undernutrition, and the economics of social capital.
He was named Knight Bachelor by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in her Birthday Honours List in 2002 for "services to economics"; was co-winner (with Karl-Goran Maler of the Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics, Stockholm) of the 2002 Volvo Environment Prize and of the 2004 Kenneth E. Boulding Memorial Award of the International Society for Ecological Economics; was recipient of the John Kenneth Galbraith Award, 2007, of the American Agricultural Economics Association; the Zayed International Environment Prize (Category II: Scientific and Technological Achievements), 2010; the 2015 Blue Planet Prize for Scientific Achievement; and the 2016 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement. He has received a Doctorate, Honoris Causa, from Wageningen University, 2000; Catholic University of Louvain, 2007; Faculte Universitaire Saint-Louis, 2009; University of Bologna, 2010; University of Tilberg, 2012; and Harvard University.