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A comparison of the volume of writing, or the number and breadth of authorities cited, between the first edition of Malthus’s Essay and the second, shows just how much he achieved in the five years between 17. In 1798 he had argued against speculations on the ‘future improvement of society’; in 1803 the Essay was a view of population’s ‘past and present effects on human happiness, with an inquiry into our prospects respecting the future removal or mitigation of the evils which it occasions’.
(according to his calculations of the world’s population at the time), 9 billion inhabitants instead of 600 million, especially given the prolific source of subsistence represented by the sea.
, published in 1830, in which the author stands by his population principle despite all the vigorous attempts to refute it.
Anglican parson Thomas Robert Malthus wrote his famous essay in 1798 in response to speculations on social perfectibility aroused by the French Revolution.
Because human powers of procreation so greatly exceed the production of food, Malthus explained, population will always exceed available resources, and many will inevitably live at the ragged edge of subsistence.
If man’s perfectibility was unlimited, then there was no reason to fear world population growth.
According to Godwin, the earth could feed “fifteen individuals instead of one”; i.e.Godwin in particular saw it as his duty to refute Malthus’ fundamental principle.Malthus, he declared, had “entered on a desert land, and, like the first discoverers of countries, set up a symbol of occupation and without further ceremony said, ‘It is mine’”. The main question was whether the forces of procreation were the sole source of population growth.Thomas Malthus was born near Guildford, Surrey, England in 1766 into a well-off family.He was educated from 1784 at Jesus College, Cambridge where he achieved distinguished marks in his mathematical studies.How could entire peoples have disappeared if the driving force of population growth was so powerful?In situations of depopulation, the food supply constraint was clearly not as dire so logically the population should start growing again.It should be noted that according to Malthus’ “axiom”, human institutions could play no more than a secondary role in population developments.But how could the population principle be compatible with depopulation?In the Malthusian model, poverty increases with population size.Was this the effect of a natural law or simply of the “law of very artificial life” (Godwin), which advantaged a handful of individuals?