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Should We Control World Population?

Diana Coole

ISBN: 978-1-509-52344-3 August 2018 Polity 140 Pages


By 2100, the human population may exceed 11 billion. Having recently surpassed 7.5 billion, it has trebled since 1950. Are such numbers sustainable, given a deepening environmental crisis? Can so many live well? Or should world population be controlled? The population question, one of the twentieth century’s most bitterly contested issues, is being debated once again.

In this compelling book, Diana Coole examines some of the profound political and ethical questions involved. Are ethical objections to government interference with individuals’ reproductive freedom definitive? Is it possible to limit population in a non-coercive way that is consistent with liberal-democratic values? Interweaving erudite original analysis with an accessible overview of the crucial debates, Coole argues that a case can be made for reducing our numbers in ways that are compatible with human rights.

This book will be essential reading for anyone interested in one of the most important questions facing our planet, from concerned citizens to students of politics, sociology, political economy, gender studies and environmental studies.
  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • Chapter One
  • Should Population be Controlled?
  • Chapter Two
  • The Ethics of Population Control: Reproductive Freedom and Human Rights
  • Chapter Three
  • The Means of Population Governance
  • Notes
‘This important and accessible work persuasively addresses difficult normative questions about population control, philosophically rejecting common arguments which seek to put any discussion of population policy “off the table” while remaining sensitive to the historical and political context motivating such concerns.’
Elizabeth Cripps, University of Edinburgh

‘An informed, subtle and revealing analysis.’
Sarah Conly, author of One Child