An Essay on the Principle of Population

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An Essay on the Principle of Population

Looking for an essay on the principle of a population?  Below is an essay sample on Hume and causes of the movement of the population, written by our qualified custom essays writers' team:

An Essay on the Principle of Population: Free Sample

…In one of the Essays, Hume tried to define the causes of the movements of population. The increase in population which corresponds to the satisfaction of a natural instinct, is desirable in itself: 'For as there is in all men, both male and female, a desire and power of generation, more active than is ever universally excited, the restraints which they lie under must proceed from some difficulties in their situation, which it belongs to a wise legislature carefully to observe and remove'. Without these difficulties 'the human species . . . would more than double every generation'. But these difficulties are of two kinds. They are physical and depend on the quality of available subsistence. They are also social: 'if everything else is equal, it seems natural to expect that, wherever there are most happiness and virtue, and the wisest institutions, there will also be most people'.

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To give abundance and security to subjects is, therefore, to contribute to the increase in population. Hume, in his Enquiry, even goes so far as to hold that an equalitarian society is physically possible. 'It must, indeed, be confessed, that nature is so liberal to mankind, that, were all her presents equally divided among the species, and improved by art and industry, every individual would enjoy all the necessaries, and even most of the comforts of life; nor would ever be liable to any ills, but such as might accidentally arise from the sickly frame and constitution of the body.' Godwin never made use of a stronger expression than this. But a difficulty came in Hume's way. It is labor which gives things a value, and in an equalitarian society, labor would not receive the necessary encouragement. 'Render possessions ever so equal, men's different degrees of art, care, and industry, will immediately break that equality. Or if you check these virtues, you reduce society to the most extreme indigence; and instead of preventing want and beggary in a few, render it unavoidable to the whole community.'

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In reality, this objection contradicts Hume's observation as to the 'liberality' of nature. In the Treatise he went further still, and asserted not only that man cannot live without labor, but also that it is not in the nature of things that his labor should be sufficient to enable him to live. We possess, he said, three kinds of goods: the internal satisfaction of our minds; the external advantages of the body; and the enjoyment of the goods which we have acquired by our labor and by our good fortune…

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