R. Malthus. An Essay on the Principle of Population.
- How fast does Malthus say that food and population each can increase, and what
does this have to do with theories of the perfectablity of mankind? (chapter 1)
- What features of social organization among natives of North America does Malthus bring
out as likely reasons for slow increase and low size of population on this fertile continent?
- Explain the distinction between "positive" versus "preventive" checks to population. Why
does the relative importance of each type of check vary, depending on the level of advancement
of civilizations? (chapter 4)
- By transferring money to the poorest people, what effect did Malthus suggest the Poor Laws
had on the balance of population and resources, and therefore on human happiness? (chapter
- To what details of social organization does Malthus attribute the superior rate of population
growth in English colonies, compared to colonies of other countries in the New World?
- If "population does invariably increase when the means of subsistence increase," how
could "variations in the proportion between the number of inhabitants and the quantity of food
consumed, arising from the different habits of living that prevail in each state" ever arise in the
first place? How is the progress of civilization possible, in the face of the power of population?
- What consequences might contemporary research into genetic engineering have for the
conclusions Malthus draws concerning the mutability of plants, animals and man? (chapter
- Review the thought experiment by which Malthus tries to show that his principle of
population, and not Godwin's vicious social institutions, are the root cause of misery and vice.
- Malthus agrees that wage laborers lacked power and comfort in the new industrial system of
his day; how does he compare that situation to their moral and material position before the
advent of manufacturing? (chapter 15)
- When profits are reinvested and increase manufacturing productivity, why does Malthus say
the "condition of the laboring poor" is not improved? What might this have to do with his
definition of "funds for the maintenance of labor?" (chapter 16)
- How does Malthus feel about manufacturing work compared with agriculture? What would
be the result for a population if it took his advice about the merits of producing silks and laces
versus producing food? (chapter 17)